We believe that leadership is a lifestyle. It’s a phrase you’ll hear frequently at The She-Suite, because we see it prove to be true, time and time again. One of the biggest ways that we see this concept play out within our community is through our BLI Alumna. The women who have taken the time to learn the concepts and teachings of The Brand Leadership Institute across 24+ weeks, put in the hard work, and walked away as more confident leaders.
Which is why today, we want to take a moment to spotlight Ana Gray’s story. The new Inc. Headquarter Business Technology Director and the Chief of Staff supporting our Office of the Chief Information Officer for BAE Systems, Enterprise Shared Services, we recently sat down with this alumna of the BLI class of 2020, to catch-up and hear more about her recent promotion with BAE.
First and foremost, I’m a Mom. My culture also plays a huge role in my identity, I’m Latina and First Generation American. I was the first to graduate college within my family which was a pretty big deal to all of us; it’s something that I’m really proud of.
I have a daughter, and three dogs, and family is at the center of all that I do. It’s what I value the most, and when I have that extra free time, that’s how I prefer to spend it; making lasting memories with them.
As for my career, I’ve been at BAE Systems now for 14 years, starting out in Accounts Payable. I’ve stayed within the Finance Division my entire time here. When I first started, my main motivation was to build a strong career… not just for myself, but to also make my family proud.
As I have grown in my career, I’ve been able to meet some amazing mentors and friends along the way, who ended up being some of my biggest advocates. As I grew in my various roles, it became clear how important it was going to be to find people who were in my corner. And the more that I took that time to open up and actually share what I wanted… what my goals were… or where my head was at… I found people willing to listen and help. Part of what I loved about the BLI is that this same concept is reflected throughout the curriculum; if you want something, you have to speak up and vocalize what you need to others. It’s amazing how people are so willing to listen, and to help.
Yet to be completely transparent, this wasn’t a practice that was always easy for me. I can be stubborn by nature, and so I had to overcome that roadblock of always wanting to figure things out by myself. It was the role of mentors who truly believed in me that led me to some awesome opportunities across my career. This was also how I ended up being nominated for The Brand Leadership Institute, which was an honor to be a part of. It was exciting to be part of a cohort of women, all with similar backgrounds, who were there for each other and boosting each other up throughout the experience.
Another key concept that the BLI advocates for is the idea of ‘give to get’ – The G2 Principal. At The She-Suite, we believe that Leadership is the greatest gift to the next generation. We remain committed to the G2 principle and look for ways continually to give back and pay it forward. Ana is a shining example of this.
I started to find that as my mentors helped to push and advocate for me, that I wanted to be able to do the same for others. Creating my MVP (Mission, Vision, and Purpose) during my BLI Experience also helped me to realize what a huge part of my brand that this is. Mentorship was such an important part of my own growth, and so moving forward it’s been important to check-in with others who are working with me, and for me, and ensure that they feel that they have an advocate. I want others to know that I’m here to help.
For the past month, I’ve been transitioning into a new role with BAE. And while starting any new role can be daunting, I’ve found that coming back to both my MVP and 90-Day Plan (two tools from The BLI) and molding those to fit into my new position has been a helpful exercise. It’s been eye opening to come back to those tools, adjust them to align with my journey moving forward in this new role, and to also share with my new manager to ensure we are aligned with what I hope to achieve moving forward.
As I continue adjusting and learning in this new role, some days can feel overwhelming. Yet I’m confident that I have the toolbox moving forward to create success, and best support not only my team and organization, but myself. I live by the motto, “Leadership is service, not position,” and look forward to supporting new projects, and new teams as I move forward with purpose.
Ana Gray is the Inc. Headquarter Business Technology Director and the Chief of Staff supporting our Office of the Chief Information Officer for BAE Systems, Enterprise Shared Services. This position will serve as a strategist, consultant, and implementer and she will be working with Senior Leadership team to support delivery of our organization objectives.
Ana is a long-time Virginia native, a graduate of Marymount University, and (whenever possible) she enjoys beach vacations with extended family as well as nature walks with her husband, daughter, and three dogs.