Leading Digital Transformation in Central Georgia With Booz Allen's Lizz Said

Jul 12, 2021 8:15 AM ET
Blog

Girls building robots and STEM skills for the future. Digital training specialists helping warfighters prepare for their missions. Cybersecurity experts and aerospace engineers supporting aircraft like the C-130 Hercules flown all around the world.

These activities and more are happening in Warner Robins, GA, a city of just under 80,000 in the heart of the southeastern United States.

“Central Georgia wants to be that center of digital excellence,” according to Booz Allen Principal Lizz Said, who leads the firm’s office in Warner Robins.

Leading a major Air Force transformation

At Warner Robins, Booz Allen provides support to the U.S. Air Force at Robins Air Force Base: enterprise integration, talent development, cybersecurity, and more. The 65-person-and-growing team brings a deep blend of expertise in both weapons systems and digital innovations like cloud architecture and DevSecOps.

“Warner Robins is in the middle of a digital transformation,” she said. “As planes go from being analog to digital, we have weapons systems we need to maintain that are no longer just analog. It’s very exciting.”

A 20-year journey of opportunity and growth

Said’s path to leading Booz Allen’s Warner Robins office started 20 years ago in San Francisco, working as a junior Oracle database administrator for U.S. Navy systems.

When Booz Allen won a contract with NASA’s Johnson Space Station and the International Space Station Program, she relocated to Texas. A position in Houston led to an opportunity in San Antonio, where she spent eight years building up the firm’s local IT team and technical business.

Then Said received another relocation offer: back to Alabama. “A partner and VP asked if I wanted to go home, and I said yes,” she said.

At Booz Allen’s Montgomery, Alabama office, she supported initiatives including an Air Force civil engineering project, assumed leadership of the Montgomery office, and served as chief of staff for Booz Allen’s aerospace business.

In January 2020, Said was promoted to principal and named the new site lead of the Warner Robins, GA office. Last summer, she celebrated her 20-year anniversary. “I essentially grew up with the firm,” she said.

Taking things in stride during a challenging year

Said describes her leadership style as calm, communicative, and consistent. “I tend to take things in stride.”

All of these traits have come in handy over the past year as Said found herself leading Warner Robins during the first phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. She swiftly reached out to clients and associates and put processes in place for staying connected and navigating the evolving situation.

Throughout, Said prioritized having fun. “This job is hard enough. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.” Highlights have included cooking classes, video dance-offs, “Zoom Pilates” as she and her team worked together to support each other and clients through a year of change and uncertainty.

The best of both worlds

According to Said, Central Georgia is a great place to both make a living and build a life—and invest in the next generation of tech talent in the region.

As Robins Air Force Base undergoes major transformation, “You can be on the ground floor and help build it up,” she said, adding that Booz Allen’s work with the base is part of an overall effort to make the region a center of technical excellence.

“People interested in working at the edge of innovation in cloud architecture, DevSecOps, and cybersecurity can come here—or come back—and find opportunity,” she said.

With a friendly atmosphere, reasonable cost of living, and major cities like Atlanta and Savannah just a drive away, “Warner Robins is the best of both worlds,” she said.

Learn more about Booz Allen’s work in Central Georgia.