Larry Magday

Senior VP of Programs

Freedom Technology Solutions Group, LLC.

What excites you about building a career in national security?

A couple of years after getting my clearance, I had my first opportunity as a contractor to support a mission-critical program. That experience gave me a whole new perspective, and I realized how privileged I was to work with teams whose purpose is our national security. Supporting the Intelligence Community (IC) is a unique responsibility because of the critical nature of the mission. Support of the IC mission is not like an “ordinary job” in that the things we do and do well have a direct impact on the IC’s ability to keep our nation safe. It is a responsibility that I both enjoy and take very seriously.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

GovCon is a people-focused business, so the most rewarding aspect of my job is helping the folks on my team grow both personally and professionally. I like getting to know people and figuring out what makes them tick, and I enjoy connecting them to roles that enable them to play to their strengths but also challenge them to do something different and grow their careers.  

Who are your mentors? Who has inspired you?

When I started my career in the IC, I lucked out and had not one but two amazing mentors who really set the standard for leadership and truly inspired me. They weren't just managers; they were the kind of leaders who left a lasting impact on my approach to work and life.

The first is Paul Gentile, whom I worked with in 2001 at a small company called SilentRunner, then again in 2005 when I joined SAIC. Paul is a great leader. He connected with the people in the organization, and he created environments where everyone felt valued. His teams were some of the most cohesive, productive, and successful teams I’ve ever been a part of.

The second is Karen Anderson, my division manager at SAIC and Leidos. Her leadership style was a well-rounded combination of savvy business acumen and a genuine interest in people. She could spot a person’s potential from a mile away, and she ensured they had the opportunities to make the most of it. When a management position became available in her division, she urged me to consider it. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I trusted her judgement and made the leap.

What’s one piece of advice you would offer somebody new to the field?

My advice to somebody new to the field of national security is to make communication a priority. Make it an essential part of your professional approach. Throughout my career, I have seen the game-changing effects that clear and open lines of communication can have on an organization. Encouraging transparency and fostering a culture of collaboration where team members communicate early and often can significantly contribute to the success of any effort while also minimizing the potential for misunderstandings.

What’s one piece of advice you are still trying to master?

“Perfection is the enemy of progress” is a famous quote by Winston Churchill. At times I find myself overthinking something and have to tell myself to stop and just get going.

Can you describe a skill you have carried throughout your career that has always proved to be valuable?

The ability to assess situations from multiple perspectives has been valuable throughout my career. It allows me to see the unique strengths and viewpoints of various team members, and it enables effective communication and conflict resolution.

What’s one thing you want to change within the Intelligence Community?

There aren’t enough fully cleared individuals in the workforce to match the current demand. Security reform efforts are underway, but I hope to see more immediate efforts to clear the backlog of security clearance cases and improve the clearance processing timelines.

What is your favorite movie, book, TV Show, or podcast? Why?

When I read, it’s typically books on leadership, and one of my favorites is “Creativity, Inc.” I prefer books that offer insights based on real-world experiences rather than just conceptual advice or generic leadership principles. “Creativity, Inc.” hit the mark for me. The book is an easy read that provides insights, advice, and valuable takeaways that anyone can easily follow to help their organization improve its culture.

My advice to somebody new to the field is to make communication an essential part of your professional approach. Throughout my career, I have seen the game-changing effects that clear and open lines of communication can have on an organization.

Larry Magday