BEYA 2019 honoree spotlight: Ursel Allen
The 2019 Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference will be held in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 7-9. The conference is an annual opportunity for professional training and networking with some of the top engineering employers, as well as a career fair for students seeking professions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). At this year's conference, 10 distinguished Leidos employees will be recognized for their career achievements. Each week leading up to BEYA, we'll profile two of our honorees here on Insights.
Ursel Allen wakes up every morning with one goal in mind: look for opportunities to challenge herself and her employees. This drive for success was born far before her 22-year career began – it took hold in the 4th grade, when she discovered her love for computers. Early in her education she dedicated herself to learning as much as she could about technology. In high school, she joined the Computer Explorers Program where she was first introduced to women working in technology. This experience, as well as support from her family, solidified her decision to pursue a career in computer science.
“My father was the biggest influence,” reflects Ursel. “He saw the passion I had for technology and encouraged me to pursue a career in the field, even though I didn’t see many in the field that looked like me at the time. He told me I could do anything if I stayed the course.”
Ursel was the first in her family to matriculate through four years of college, relocating from Detroit to Virginia to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems from Hampton University. Shortly after graduation she was hired by Lockheed Martin (LM) as a Microsoft Windows administrator. Within months, she pursued and was selected for one of 10 coveted spots in the third class for LM Enterprise Information Systems in the competitive Information Systems Leadership Development program. Simultaneously, Ursel obtained her Master of Science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute while completing challenging and rotating assignments.
Following her initial position at Lockheed Martin, Ursel quickly climbed the ranks and served in multiple roles including: Project Manager for an Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) Telecommunication team, Advanced Technical Leadership Program staff and Technical Assistant to the Vice President of Technical Operations in Enterprise Business Services, Release Manager, Network Engineer, Engineering Proposal Manager, and Control Account Manager. During this time she discovered her love of project management, which allows her to build effective relationships, provide mentoring, and resolve challenges to deliver a successful result.
Being recognized by peers in the industry is a huge honor for me. It symbolizes that even though the journey may not be glamorous, hard work and commitment does not go unnoticed and is appreciated.
Today, Ursel is a systems engineering development manager at Leidos supporting the lifecycle Human Resource capability at a national security agency. She oversees a $47 million team budget and leads a wide-ranging team of 26 data warehouse and reporting systems engineers. Her management style and positive attitude are refreshing and infectious. She is exactly the type of leader and manager people want to work for because she is fair, communicates, provides authority to act, and holds people accountable. Her work leads directly to customer confidence in the entire Leidos team, and has extended the program close to three years beyond its expected conclusion.
In recognition of her exceptional accomplishments, Ursel will be honored with a Special Recognition award at the 33rd annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Conference.