EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Top 5 Things on the Minds of GovCon Execs: Deb Dunie

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This summer, WashingtonExec is reaching out to leaders in government and government contracting who’ve had success to learn more about their habits, experiences and perspectives.

Deb Dunie has more than 30 years of experience in the aerospace and defense industry, including serving as a member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service from 2002 to 2006. She currently serves on several prominent boards including those of SAIC and Alliant Energy.

Deb Dunie. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

WashingtonExec: What is on your summer reading list?

Dunie: I have been reading “The Source” by James Michener for a long time – but the story is 5,000 years old, so I think that’s OK. I also recommend “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith.

WashingtonExec: Tell me about a time in your life when you had to really stretch yourself in order to learn and grow.

Dunie: I have been fortunate in that professionally I have held roles in both government and the private sector. The business drivers are dramatically different between these roles, and the transition took a bit of perspective recalibration on my part.

My transition to public board life also required a perception reboot in that I was comfortable being a part of the executive management team, and now, as we say at the National Association of Corporate Directors, (NACD), the role is “noses in, fingers out.”

WashingtonExec: If you could go back and give your younger self career and/or life advice, what would you say?

Dunie: Spend more time with your kids. I was all in on work, and I hope I’m better for it, but you also realize that you don’t get that time back. You need to know what your physical and mental limits are and save something for yourself in that mix and save something for your family who needs some attention too. It’s also important to take really good care of yourself physically.  

Watching my kids grow up has been a tremendous transition for me. You’re constantly trying to understand traits and aspirations based on what you did. Are you doing too much for them? Are you giving them the right level of support?  Do you trust you have provided a good foundation for decision-making? I really try to look at things through their lens – and understand their perspective. As a parent, you question everything. As the “parent” of a business, you question everything, too. It’s definitely the people relationships that are the most critical.  

WashingtonExec: What is your favorite city to visit? What do you enjoy doing there?

Dunie: I do enjoy hiking and visiting friends in Park City, Utah. I also am a big fan of Block Island, Rhode Island. I enjoy sailing into the Great Salt Pond or climbing Oak Bluffs. I have a lot of family memories in both those locations.

WashingtonExec: Tell me about an app, device or type of technology you personally love and why.

Dunie: I love my iPhone, and iPad Mini, and I can’t live without them. They have become an integral part of my life for scheduling, keeping abreast of industry affairs, FaceTiming (with my kids when they are away from home), texting, emailing,  playing games and many other activities.

 

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