Feedback, Firsts, and Fearless Conversations with Booz Allen’s Lea Hurley and Kelly Shannon

Mar 20, 2019 9:00 AM ET
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This March, Booz Allen is hosting a series of Courageous Conversations for Women’s History Month. In this second installment of this video series, Operations Lead Kelly Shannon talks with Cyber Security Leader Lea Hurley about career-changing guidance. Highlights follow.

Be open to new paths and “nontraditional” advocates

A client “with a nontraditional approach to everything” challenged Hurley to shift to work in the cybersecurity field—to transition from putting the network together to “thinking about it more deeply.” 

This was during the early days of cyber, when the Department of Defense was just learning about major intrusions, she said. His ongoing support was pivotal to her career, she said—so much so that she invited him and his wife to dinner later and told him so.

“I thanked him and helped him understand what he’d done and the path he’d made for me,” she said.

Embrace being first

According to Hurley, she was often the only woman and the youngest person in the room.

To communicate her credibility, her client advocate encouraged her to get a credential—in this case, a Certified Information Systems and Security Professional (CISSP) certification. Today, it’s the only honor she chooses to hang on her wall.

Welcome feedback—and pay it forward

Hurley emphasized the importance of feedback in a career. “It accelerates your path and your learning.”

Often people reject the feedback they’re given because they don’t trust the person’s. intent, she said. But feedback is a gift.

“They’re telling you because they care about you,” she said. “Not because they’re trying to drag you down.”

“Early in my career, when I stumbled, you called me up and gave me some hard feedback,” Shannon told Hurley during the interview. “It made me a better leader.”.”

Watch the full conversation and learn more about the Courageous Conversation Video Series and about diversity and inclusion at Booz Allen.