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What does it mean to win a Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA)? How about winning the BEYA in a special anniversary year?

12 years ago, Linda Gooden was named the 2006 Black Engineer of the Year at the 20th annual science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) event.

Ten years later, the Linda Gooden Legacy Award was named for BEYA’s 2006 Black Engineer of the Year.

Currently, Gooden,  one of the most respected business leaders in defense and aerospace during her 40-year career, serves on the Board of Directors of General Motors, Automatic Data Processing, Inc., The Home Depot, Inc., and Washington Gas Light Company.

Below are excerpts from a US Black Engineer magazine article that is part of a series of 20/20 hindsight interviews with BEYA winners.

What it means to win

I am honored to be among this distinguished list of nominees; that it is the 20th anniversary of the Black Engineer the Year Awards makes it even more special. There’s been a lot of change in the past 20 years.

On the whole, progress has been made in workforce diversity developmental and promotional opportunities, and in work-life balance.

The future offers even more opportunities. What we do today will set the stage for the next 20 years, just as those who walked down the aisle and accepted this award 20 years ago set the stage for us.

Staying ahead of the curve

In the information technology (IT) market, change comes in three dimensions: new technology, new customers, and new buying patterns. The nexus of these three dimensions has presented us with strategic inflection. Our ability to recognize and leverage these points has really given us a competitive advantage.

Biggest challenges

I’ve been exceptionally fortunate that I have been able to find a balance that blends my personal goals with my professional career. When you love what you do, and you’re recognized and appreciated for delivering results and have the opportunity to work with a phenomenal group of people, finding a balance isn’t really difficult.

Best practices

  • Always seek alternative views

Rarely is there a situation where the best course of action is obvious to everyone. More frequently, we arrive at a better solution by integrating some combination of alternatives.

  • Establish a pilot program to validate results and deal with organizational commitments

Move quickly

    • Avoid major mistakes, but don’t be afraid of minor mistakes

The operational tempo of business mandates a balance of accuracy and speed in decision making

Best advice:

My mom told me that my grades and what I decided to do with my life weren’t anyone’s responsibility but my own. She said that I could earn the highest grades and be whatever I wanted to be, but I had to work at it. Success isn’t automatic, it requires experience, discipline, and persistence. The first step is to commit yourself, and the second step is to stay focused on your goals.

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