Position: Senior vice president/deputy group president, system and network solutions group, Science Applications International Corp., a $7.2 billion employee-owned research and engineering company that is based in San Diego but has 16,000 employees in the Washington area.

Career highlights: President, systems engineering group, Anteon Corp.; senior vice president, Techmatics Inc.; division manager, ship systems, Techmatics; director, business development, Techmatics; program manger, Techmatics; program manager, Scientific Management Associates; program manager, Advanced Technology.

Age: 48

Education: BS and MS, clothing textiles and related arts, College of Human Resource Management, Virginia Tech.

Personal: Lives in Alexandria with husband, Richard, and their sons, Billy, 20, and Jon, 15.

How did you get to where you are?

I'm a very driven person. That has been critical to my success throughout my career and is a trait that I inherited from my mother. I also like to learn and be challenged, and I was very fortunate in my first position to find both of these things. Early on I found myself working in a male-dominated industry with a very large percentage of engineers and military personnel. This immediately presented a challenge to overcome the stigma that women did not belong in the defense industry. I needed to prove myself. I did this by learning quickly how to work with customers and ultimately secure contracts. Once I brought in my first contract, I found that this created an excitement for me that ended up being the stimulus for my future growth.

I also was very fortunate to recognize early in my career the value of surrounding myself with very talented people. And as I progressively took on more challenges, I built better and stronger teams to overcome the challenges. This is a people business and if you are going to succeed you need to take the time to work with the people as individuals to understand their strengths and weaknesses and then put them in a position where they can do well.

I feel a turning point in my career was when Techmatics was acquired by Anteon in 1998. It was critical at this time to keep the team together and to make the acquisition a success. This ended up being a true test of my ability to work with people and keep them focused during a time of major change. With the assistance of a great team, we accomplished this and in the first year of our acquisition exceeded the expectations of our new owner.

Today, in my new rule as deputy group president at SAIC, I know I will continue to be challenged. I am now surrounded by even more talented people and have the opportunity to move into new customer areas. I am also very fortunate to be part of an organization that puts a real focus on diversity. Although I have never let being a woman in a male-dominated industry slow me down, I do find it refreshing to be part of an organization that is committed to helping others succeed by sharing lessons learned and eliminating any barriers to success.

-- Judith Mbuya