For most people, the phrases “information technology” and “information systems” bring to mind tasks like responding to support tickets and holding technology training sessions. And while yes, those are small components, the truth is that there’s a whole lot more to those fields — the best information tech and systems strategies are proactive, cutting-edge and ever-evolving to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation. Just ask Shawn Purvis, Corporate Vice President and President of Northrop Grumman’s Enterprise Services.
In the six years that she’s been with Northrop Grumman, Purvis has served in various leadership roles within the company’s information systems department, working in such areas as intelligence collection, cybersecurity, enterprise IT solutions, command and control deployment and operations, data analytics and many more. These solutions, in turn, play a key role in helping defense, intelligence and civilian agencies perform their missions.
Glassdoor’s Emily Moore chatted with Purvis recently to learn a little more about how she came to play a leading role at one of the world’s leading global security companies, what makes her excited to come into work every day and what advice she has for those who might want to follow in her footsteps — here’s what she had to say.
Glassdoor: What are your day-to-day responsibilities at Northrop Grumman?
Shawn Purvis: My current role is corporate vice president and president, Enterprise Services for Northrop Grumman Corporation. I lead the company’s Enterprise Services sector which is responsible for providing program, corporate and employee services in support of program execution. The Enterprise Services organization leads Northrop Grumman’s information technology (IT), Information security, service center operations, data analytics and global IT strategy.
Glassdoor: You’ve been at Northrop Grumman for over six years. What makes you excited to come into work each day?
Shawn Purvis: The company continues to grow in the aerospace and defense field. I have had the opportunity to learn new roles in different areas of responsibilities as I have moved throughout the company. My career has spanned over 20 years in the Intel Community, cyber and information technology areas. I enjoy learning and developing and the continual opportunity to grow in my career.
Glassdoor: What are one or two projects that you have spearheaded that are the highlights of your time with Northrop Grumman?
Shawn Purvis: Truly, the highlight of my career thus far has been to work and lead teams of high-performing individuals who are passionate and focused on delivering new technology to our customers. Taking a new requirement from concept through development to production is the best part of my job. We provide solutions that protect our government and the warfighters. The successful delivery of solutions in support of our government and our warfighters continues to be the proudest accomplishment of my career.
Glassdoor: I saw that you attended Hampton University. How did that help set you up for success? What advice would you give current Hampton students interested in pursuing a career in Information Systems?
Shawn Purvis: I had fantastic professors at Hampton University who challenged us to seek solutions that optimize the results. I learned how to work in teams and develop systems from a requirements document to a working product. All of those skills have enabled me to be successful at Northrop Grumman Corporation. For those students seeking a career in Information Systems at Hampton, I would say “Go for it!” Learn all you can from your peers and professors — challenge yourself in areas of math, programming and engineering. Stretch yourself in areas of communication and business. Use all of the talent you were given and leave no regrets.
Glassdoor: Reviews on Glassdoor rave about the company culture at Northrop Grumman. What would you tell a friend about working at your company?
Shawn Purvis: Northrop Grumman is a company centered on a culture of high ethics, quality and the value of performance. The company values diversity and inclusion at all levels in the company. We believe that creating a workforce and a workplace that values diversity and fosters inclusion is pivotal to promoting innovation and increasing productivity and profitability. Our goal is to continually support and nurture the large number of Northrop Grumman employees whose backgrounds, characteristics and perspectives are as diverse as the global communities in which we reside. We are committed to leveraging our organizational diversity through teamwork, cross-functional collaboration and joint ventures to help us meet and exceed our business goals and ensure our role as a leader in our industry.
Glassdoor: Any interesting traditions on your team or fun, quirky team activities you do?
Shawn Purvis: I send out birthday and service anniversary cards to our employees. It is a little something that brings a smile to their day and lets them know we care and appreciate them!
Glassdoor: What skills or traits make someone successful at your company?
Shawn Purvis: Good communication skills, strong leadership characteristics and the desire to do good for our customers and our employees.
Glassdoor: Alright, now for a few fun ones. What was your first job and what did it teach you?
Shawn Purvis: My first job was sorting mail in a mailroom. I was 16 years old and in order to have a car, I had to have a job. It taught me responsibility, work ethic and financial management. I also learned all of the zip codes in the Northern VA region!
Glassdoor: What was your first big career mistake and how did you overcome it?
Shawn Purvis: I have learned life sends you many, many “mistakes” and “failures” throughout the course of your career. In reality, the only way you do not experience a challenge is if you never try. I take the time to reflect on what I could and will do better moving forward, I take accountability for my personal (and my team’s) results and I provide an honest assessment of the situation and how we will overcome it. If you see each mistake as a learning experience, you gain great wisdom along your career journey. As Vince Lombardi once said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
Glassdoor:What songs are on your “get it done” playlist?
Shawn Purvis: I like music from all genres. My go-to list is Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige and 90’s Hip Hop!
Want to work for an innovative, high-tech, global security leader? Check out open Northrop Grumman jobs today!