Jeff A. Raver of SAIC: “I have always viewed myself as a servant leader, working to provide my organization with everything they need to be successful”

To me leadership is a combination of understanding, compassion, respect, and decisiveness. I have always viewed myself as a servant leader, working to provide my organization with everything they need to be successful. Over the course of my career, the most accomplished teams are the ones who know that their leadership is working not only […]

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To me leadership is a combination of understanding, compassion, respect, and decisiveness. I have always viewed myself as a servant leader, working to provide my organization with everything they need to be successful. Over the course of my career, the most accomplished teams are the ones who know that their leadership is working not only in the interest of the corporation and the customer, but also in their interests as well. Companies that recognize the importance of their workforce and reinforce that understanding through the actions they take, including benefits, training and development, compensation, flexibility and opportunity, are often the most successful. I believe that as the workplace changes with more distributed teams, greater opportunities for remote work, and less face-to-face interactions, these values will become even more critical for success. Strong leaders listen to their workforce and understand that they do not have all the answers, but know at the end of the day they are responsible for making decisions.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff A. Raver.

Jeff A. Raver is vice president and interim general manager for Science Applications International Corp.’s (NYSE: SAIC) Solutions and Technology Group, leading the team that is responsible for the discovery, architecture, and delivery of transformative solutions for federal, commercial, and state/local government customers.

With a focus on fostering an agile culture of innovation through research, product development, and strategic alliances, Raver positions SAIC as a leader in its industry and an influential technology integrator serving the U.S. government and other customers.

Raver joined SAIC in 2004 and previously was the vice president for Training and Mission Solutions. In this role, he managed and mentored a team of over 5,000 instructors, training analysts, instructional systems designers, training content developers, program managers, and communications specialists who create, deliver, and manage training worldwide for every branch of the military, numerous federal and state agencies, and a variety of commercial customers.

Raver has more than 30 years of experience in the design, development, and delivery of innovative and immersive training solutions for complex problems, including the application of technology and data analytics to increase training efficiency and effectiveness. He has authored numerous technical articles on these topics.

A visible Out Executive and Leader at SAIC, he has been instrumental in advancing LGBTQ — both nationally and in local communities around the Greater Washington, D.C., area as well as within the SAIC workplace.

As a volunteer, he is active with Team D.C., Capital Pride, the Capital Pride Alliance, Food and Friends, and many other national nonprofit organizations.

Raver established the SAIC Equality Alliance Business Resource Group and has helped SAIC earn national recognition as a corporate leader in diversity and LGBTQ inclusion and equality.

Raver earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from The Catholic University of America and a Master of Science degree in systems engineering from The George Washington University.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As an undergraduate, I knew that I was interested in psychology but also knew that I did not want to get a PhD. I did some volunteer engagements in social work and counseling, but really liked the idea of integrating my interests in computer science and engineering. That led me to pursue opportunities in applied experimental psychology and human factors engineering. Over the course of my career those early experiences inspired my involvement in systems design and training and ultimately getting my MS degree in Systems Engineering.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

About five years ago, I was approached about creating a new Employee Resource Group (ERG) at SAIC. The company was looking to create engagement across our workforce by establishing affinity groups where employees could share experiences and support philanthropic engagements. The group I was asked to lead represented the LGBTQ members of our workforce. I have been an openly gay leader within the organization for many years, but my initial thought when asked about leading this new group was, “Do I really want to be that ‘out’ to all 26,000 employees at SAIC?” My next thought was, “No one should ever have to ask themselves that question,” and I immediately agreed to lead the new SAIC Equality Alliance ERG. Since forming the group, we have participated in events nationwide raising awareness about LGBTQ issues, created supportive policies across SAIC, promoted campaigns with Feeding America and through local volunteer activities like Food and Friends in Washington, DC and Mama’s Kitchen in San Diego, CA, and established the company as a “Best place to work for LGBTQ equality” on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

As a federal contractor with more than 26,000 employees across every state in the nation, we look for opportunities that have both a national impact as well as within the specific communities where we live and work. On a national level we have campaigns supporting organizations like Feeding America, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Building Homes for Heroes. At the local level, we support STEM initiatives, robotics clubs, environmental events, local area food banks and other food service organizations that help our communities. Our ERGs are often aligned with these engagements to raise funds, generate support and volunteer time and effort.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Our extremely diverse work in the defense and federal contracting industry, that is geographically distributed across the country, creates a large variance in the environments where we live and work. With the standup of our ERGs, we have created organizations that can help their members by providing opportunities and overcoming challenges. Since we established the Equality Alliance, I have been approached by many of my LGBTQ and allied coworkers who have expressed how important it was for them to know that they and their families are valued for who they are and that they have the full support of the company to be their true and authentic selves. Concerns over acceptance, having to hide aspects of their lives, and worrying about their LGBTQ family members all become distractions that drain energy and focus. Creating an environment where these concerns are mitigated and addressed improves productivity and job satisfaction across the company. More than one employee has approached me, some with tears in their eyes, to say how important it was for them to know the company respects and supports them no matter who they are.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To me leadership is a combination of understanding, compassion, respect, and decisiveness. I have always viewed myself as a servant leader, working to provide my organization with everything they need to be successful. Over the course of my career, the most accomplished teams are the ones who know that their leadership is working not only in the interest of the corporation and the customer, but also in their interests as well. Companies that recognize the importance of their workforce and reinforce that understanding through the actions they take, including benefits, training and development, compensation, flexibility and opportunity, are often the most successful. I believe that as the workplace changes with more distributed teams, greater opportunities for remote work, and less face-to-face interactions, these values will become even more critical for success. Strong leaders listen to their workforce and understand that they do not have all the answers, but know at the end of the day they are responsible for making decisions.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I struggle with the fact that our country has become so polarized. If it were within my power, I would like to show my fellow citizens how much we are similar versus continuing to highlight our differences. I fully respect different points of view and believe wholeheartedly that everyone has the right to their own beliefs. My concern is that we have somehow lost our ability to compromise and show genuine respect for one another. We have become a society in which you either agree or are an “enemy.” The goodness I would strive to bring to the greatest number of people is to show them the importance of coexistence, compromise, understanding and respect.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A former boss and mentor once told me, “Never bring a problem, always bring a solution.” Throughout my career I have taken this to heart and have tried to live it in every role I have filled. As a leader of large organizations within SAIC, I have also appreciated this advice with regard to the teams reporting to me. It is often much more difficult to figure out how to solve a problem than it is to just point it out. Leaders with a large sphere of responsibility appreciate when individuals and teams put thought into resolving an issue at the same time they bring it forward. I may not always agree with the solution, but I always appreciate the forethought.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I would be very interested in sitting down to speak at length with Pete Buttigieg. I have an enormous amount of respect for his accomplishments and believe strongly that we are only just beginning to appreciate all that he can do for the country. I would love to hear more about his life experiences growing up, how he made the decisions that led him to where he is today and what his vision of the future will be as he continues to grow his role in U.S. politics. I love the concept of engaging with someone who is still growing in their career and influence. Knowing that I might have influenced a future world leader with whom I can relate is incredibly interesting to me. Plus, the fact that he and his husband, and now their two new children, live just down the street from me makes me imagine that a meeting like this could actually happen!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Personally, I am most active on LinkedIn under “Jeffrey Raver,” plus SAIC is active on all social channels as @saic.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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