Eric Lester is a self-described Navy brat who saw quite a bit of the world during his father’s 22 years in the service. Though his eyesight wasn’t quite good enough to enable him to fulfill his vision of being a fighter pilot, Lester has nonetheless found a way to be an asset to the U.S. government and military: as a principal in the management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
“Primarily, [my job gratification] centers on the fact that I know we're having a positive impact on the war fighters and advancing their ability to protect us,” said Lester, who joined Booz Allen in 1996 as an entry-level consultant. “I've been focused on program management and enterprise decision-making, if you will, for probably the past 15 years and, through that, I've been able to help our clients start up new organizations and create structures that best enable them to deliver capability and response to the war fighter requirements.”
A native of the Bay Area, Lester attended San Diego State University in the late 1980s and earned a bachelor's degree in finance. Thrust into the job market after college, he discovered that “the defense industry was kind of going a little bit sideways” in San Diego at that time, “but I was able to strike an internship with one of the local defense companies and tried to use my financial background to help inform decision-making that would be advantageous to the company and their constituents,” Lester said.
A few years later, fate smiled on Lester’s career when the Congressional Base Closure and Realignment Commission moved a major Navy acquisition command to San Diego. The presence of SPAWAR -- Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command -- in San Diego opened the door for Lester at Booz Allen, which provides direct support to its Navy clients and has helped build the next generation of command-and-control capability.
Lester has led a few teams that help SPAWAR and, specifically, PEO C4I, the Navy's Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence, which provides integrated communication and information technology systems that enable information dominance and the command and control of maritime forces, Lester said.
“So it's the cross-section -- acquisition finance, engineering, information assurance, contracting expertise -- and we're there to help advise and support the government in their decision-making,” he said.
Lester said he also enjoys working with a diverse community of companies in San Diego through his affiliation with organizations such as the National Defense Industrial Association, Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and San Diego Military Advisory Council.
“I really have enjoyed immersing myself in [the Navy’s] problem set and trying to find ways to make a difference,” Lester said. “And they've given me the opportunity, and my investment in them has made a difference for them, too.”
-Lovitt is a La Jolla-based freelance writer.