Have you ever been so impassioned by a mission that you would jump out of an airplane to support it? MITRE’s director of talent development, Nicole Gilmore, has. She talked with MITRE’s Catherine Trifiletti about her work at MITRE and her commitment to promoting opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.
Gilmore recently tagged along with the Army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights, to film a promotional video highlighting STEM opportunities within the Army and Department of Defense.
“My jump was meant to bring awareness to the diversity of skills and career opportunities that can be afforded to an individual who goes into public service,” she says.
Two Service-Oriented Roles, One Goal
Gilmore is an Army spouse of 25 years whose most recent career experiences include building tech companies in New England and teaching at both Harvard and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Further cementing her deep connection to service, she was appointed to serve as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) by Secretary Ryan McCarthy in 2019 and now serves under Secretary Christine Wormuth.
Gilmore’s diverse background in healthcare, finance, and academia make her an ideal fit for the honorary role. When she’s not parachuting out of planes, the CASA position entails supporting Army recruitment initiatives for Massachusetts, serving on the state’s STEM task force, and “providing a vital link between the Army and the communities for which they serve.”
Since joining MITRE in 2019, Gilmore has driven strategy for learning and growth, as well as early talent acquisition. “I am privileged to lead teams—in the MITRE Institute [our corporate educational development program] and student programs department— who empower our staff to do great work,” she says.
She brings to MITRE and the Army an unshakeable commitment to economic development through workforce optimization.
My jump was meant to bring awareness to the diversity of skills and career opportunities that can be afforded to an individual who goes into public service.
A Transcendent Talent Landscape Between MITRE and the Military
MITRE and the U.S. Army are recruiting from a similar national talent pool, allowing her passion for STEM and talent to seamlessly inform both her functions.
“We're discussing ways to produce more tech talent, whether they join the Army, a company like MITRE, or any other organization that's serves the public interest,” she says.
Recruitment challenges are real. Metrics show that the U.S. is not producing enough professionals with STEM foundations. Gilmore specifically cites an exponentially increasing demand in cybersecurity that’s outpacing skilled talent being supplied to the market.
The smaller pool of candidates can be selective when choosing an employer in the competitive landscape, but “the sweet spot is this generation’s propensity to be purposeful and mission-oriented in their work,” she says. “Both the military and MITRE have that going for them.”
To find solutions for the multi-layered challenges, she and her MITRE team rely on research and statistics.
In the case of cybersecurity, they analyzed the make-up of new hires. “This information helps us identify what kind of talent our departments and directors need, in terms of experience level and exposure, to be effective in solving our sponsor's problems.”
Cyber Futures was created out of this exhaustive exercise to address an often overlooked pool of candidates.
In its second year, the developmental-oriented internship program attracts students from underrepresented populations, primarily historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions, into cybersecurity.
Optimizing Talent Through Growth and Development
For Gilmore and her team, the work doesn’t end after new talent accepts an offer.
At MITRE, staff development is taking shape in a variety of ways. Over the last year 8,500 employees have engaged in some kind of learning activity. Through our on-demand platforms alone, staff have watched more than 17,000 videos and enrolled in dozens of courses and educational programs through the MITRE Institute.
The impressive numbers can be attributed to “our employees’ ferocious appetite for learning,” Gilmore says.
“It's vital to the national interest for us to do our part, to grow and develop talent,” she adds. “It's very important to our economic future to have an educated and skilled population, period.”
More Than a Leap of Faith
Gilmore’s big jump was more than a thrill-seeking activity, or a “publicity stunt” for service-oriented positions.
She thoughtfully parsed out lessons from the once-in-a-lifetime experience: “It takes trust and an incredible amount of teamwork. You have to eat fear in the morning before you go and fulfill your mission.
“We have to be willing to take the risk and go for it, but also be willing to rely on people around us and trust that they are very smart, gifted, and talented in what they are here to do.”
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