The Tennessee Valley Chapter of Women In Defense was honored to have Alicia Ryan, CEO of LSINC, speak to our members at our latest mentorship event, held July 18.

Mrs. Ryan spoke about her career, the obstacles she faced and overcame along the way, and what she has learned and taken away from all of it.

“When I look back on my life, there is no way to say that one part of it didn’t impact who I am today,” Mrs. Ryan said.

With an Industrial Organization Psychology degree and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership, Mrs. Ryan began her career in the government industry. She eventually joined the team at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she began to navigate the engineering environment.

At BAH, Mrs. Ryan supported the president and vice presidents on analyzing markets and technologies. She worked tirelessly to create a crucial team that could bridge the gap between business strategy and engineering.

In 2005, Mrs. Ryan and her family made their way to Huntsville. Just three years later, she set out to start her own small business because of the shortage of companies devoted to working with senior leaders to develop their business strategies.

Due to the immediate success of her business, Mrs. Ryan incorporated within six months. She expected to stay at five employees that worked out of her home. However, by the time her company celebrated its one-year anniversary, they’d moved into an office.

The rest is history.

1. Be Passionate About Your Work

“In all the work I’ve done with leaders and what I’ve learned about myself is that if I don’t do something I’m passionate about, I’m not going to be good at it,” Mrs. Ryan said. “But I have to match that passion with what the market needs. I have to think through how I am going to bring in business while I maintain my passion. It’s not either/or.”

Mrs. Ryan’s strategy for keeping the passion alive among her entire team is to go after work that will sustain the company, while also going after their joint vision.

2. Consider Your Choices Carefully

Another key lesson Mrs. Ryan learned along the way was on the importance of the choices we make. When Marshall Space Flight Center lost Ares in 2010, Mr. Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. was serving as director. He brought in Mrs. Ryan and her team for strategy assurance.

Nearly a decade later, Mr. Lightfoot joined the LSINC team because of the impact the concepts she introduced made to NASA as an organization.

“The things we do can make a difference later when you can tie it back,” Mrs. Ryan said.

3. Find A Mentor

Among the many lessons she’s learned along the way, Mrs. Ryan also encouraged the importance of mentors that can provide advice, guidance, and perspective. One of her key mentors in her career has been Dr. Julian Davidson, founder of Davidson Technologies.

“I think it’s important to look for mentors that think differently than you,” she said.

4. Maintain Work-Life Balance

Finally, Mrs. Ryan provided attendees advice on maintaining a work-life balance with their careers. She noted that with balance, you can make it all count. Mrs. Ryan has successfully discovered that the things she learns with her husband and children at home can often be applicable at work, and vice versa.

When asked what she would do differently looking back on her successful career, she simply said, “I would not beat myself up so much. Somewhere along the line I learned that I didn’t have to have an ‘A’ in everything.”

Thank you, Mrs. Ryan, for sharing your passion, valuable life and career advice, key lessons learned, and impactful testimony with WID-TVC.