A recipe for success
A Virtual Mentoring Session with Anne Guevara
What’s it like to be mentored by our leaders? It’s impossible for every one of us to sit down with members of our leadership team, so we’re conducting virtual mentoring sessions with them to pass along wisdom and lessons from the people who have ascended to Electronic Systems’ highest level positions.
In this virtual mentoring session, we talk with Anne Guevara, Senior Director of Program Excellence, about family, change, and life lessons.
Tell me about your journey so far, as both an individual and professional.
I come from a big Italian and German family so I always wanted to be a mom. My wonderful Italian mother was a nursing professional who balanced work and motherhood artfully. Later, I became fascinated with constitutional law and protection of the underserved. I thought my journey would take me to law school right after college. Things change. Looking through the rear view mirror, my career journey has truly been fascinating and richly rewarding. I went to Tulane on an ROTC scholarship and graduated with honors as a distinguished military graduate, being commissioned into the U.S. Army. I served for 26 years on both Active Duty and in the Reserves (so I could stay home with my kids for several years). During my military career, I served in primarily tactical health care management (combat casualty care) roles including commanding at Company and Battalion levels, serving on the Corps Staff and deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on special assignment for The Surgeon General of the Army.
Once the children were school aged, I was recruited by Texas Instruments (then sold to Raytheon) as part of their Junior Military Officer program and trained as an Industrial engineer. That was the beginning of a 23+ year career at Raytheon where I served in various Operations and Program Management roles, including 2 expat assignments in France. I retired from Raytheon in 2019 to join the BAE Systems team.
You’ve had so many diverse experiences. What were the biggest takeaways or skillsets you acquired during your career?
My time in the military taught me perspective and sense of urgency. Commanding a medevac battalion requires planning and on-the-spot decisions that mean life or death for your patients. That’s a weighty responsibility.
It also taught me to be decisive in times of crisis. You can’t wring your hands wanting more data or opinions. You have to make on-the-spot decisions, be OK with them, and move forward. While my PM career decisions were generally not life or death, effectively navigating uncertainty was an essential skill that aided me in my private sector career.
Throughout my career I also learned the importance of being a change agent. To stay competitive at BAE Systems, we need to evolve and improve ourselves. Change will happen in a vacuum but if we want it to be effective, we need to design or architect how the community evolves. It’s like a recipe. You don’t just aspire to have a great pot of Italian gravy (sauce for those northern Italians) at the end of the evening. You have to get groceries, you have to have a recipe, you have to stand over the stove and stir that pot. It doesn’t happen effectively on its own; neither does change!
Who has influenced you the most?
My number one coach and mentor was my father. He was a dentist by profession, a dabbling engineer and innovator by hobby, and an Army Colonel. He served as an Army dentist for 36 years, a professor at LSU Dental School, and then a consultant. I guess I’m following in his footsteps because, like him, I don’t know when to retire. He was a very wise man but at the same time very practical and he taught compelling lessons.
Two really stuck with me. The first is to “take care of your troops.” You will not be successful unless they are successful, and the best way for them to be successful is for you to see to their needs. Hopefully my team will tell you that’s a credo I live by to this very day.
The second lesson is that the places we go and the people we meet all serve to form our very character. Seek out new and interesting experiences: travel to new places, meet new people, and you will be a better person! This lesson truly shaped my thirst for diversity of perspective and my passion for travel.
Do you have advice for employees transitioning from military service to the private sector?
A few tips come to mind. Find a buddy in the private sector who is a fellow veteran to help you navigate the pitfalls. Take time to learn the language. Even if you were in an “Acquisition” role as a government PM, some of the language or perspective in industry is different (margin analysis, profit & loss, bookings, etc.). Leave your rank at the door; while the grade you achieved in the military is noteworthy and admirable, it will not necessarily translate directly into civilian life. Be proud of your accomplishments, but recognize that others have experiences in the civilian world that you can learn from. Lastly, it may seem trivial, but learn PowerPoint and Excel! These skills are essential to success.
What are your interests outside work?
Number one is traveling. I blame and bless my parents for teaching me the love of travel. I moved around a lot as a kid and my mom was artful at exciting us with adventure. I probably perpetuated that as an adult, jumping at the opportunity to live abroad a few times. Like my father said, the places we go and people we meet, shape who we are.
Aside from traveling, I like to read, sew, swim, fish, do remodeling projects, and cook (which is hard as two of my children are professional chefs!). Mostly, I love doing anything with my loved ones.
By Laura Goodwin, Communications, Merrimack, New Hampshire