Booz Allen’s Dee Dee Helfenstein Shares Career Advice for the Next Generation of Women in Consulting
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What advice guides a successful trajectory for women in consulting? For Booz Allen Executive Vice President Dee Dee Helfenstein, it’s a quote by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said and forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“I have always loved this quote as it is about the heart and making people feel valued, motivated, and supported,” Helfenstein said. “My advice for new leaders is to always remember to be fully present, to listen, to empower, and to inspire.”
Helfenstein shared insights from two decades in consulting, plus stories from other “trailblazing, authentic female leaders,” on Booz Allen’s website. Highlights follow.
Break out of your comfort zone
One of the women consulting leaders Helfenstein features is Booz Allen Executive Vice President Karen Dahut. Enlisting as an officer in the U.S. Navy right after college, Dahut was soon in charge of men twice her age. She now oversees 10,000 people working on global defense projects.
“She never shied away from taking on a new job or tackling a thorny client challenge, despite the perceived risks of failure, and that has served her well,” Helfenstein wrote.
Learn to be an active listener
Listening is another important skill for women leaders in consulting. “When you don’t listen, and perhaps come in with a preconceived idea of what’s right, you miss opportunities,” Helfenstein wrote.
She cited Booz Allen Senior Vice President Michele Hintz, who leads teams delivering digital and analytics capabilities to the U.S. Army. “Michele believes that success requires active listening to clients—to understand their mission, needs, and root challenges—and then working collaboratively with a diverse team to identify the best solution to solve those challenges.”
Look for new ways to transform the business
Finally, Helfenstein stressed the importance of understanding emerging technologies, seeking out new opportunities for growth, and anticipating client needs. She included a quote by Vice President Nyla Beth Gawel, who helps lead Booz Allen’s Solutions Business: “The best consultants aren’t just thinking about individual contracts but rather are focused on how to continue solving problems more effectively and well into the future.”