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ATD Blog

How to Launch a Capability Academy

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Booz Allen Hamilton is a global firm of 34,000 diverse professionals committed to excellence and positive change. We specialize in consulting, analytics, digital solutions, engineering, and cyber safety across various industries. Our multicultural community values diversity and aims to empower people to change the world with integrity. We tackle today’s problems while innovating for tomorrow. Our workforce has the knowledge and skills to meet complex technical challenges for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and military organizations.

When clients need guidance on the most complicated technical challenges in the marketplace today, organizations should ensure that their workforce has the knowledge and skills to meet client needs. Organizations must often hire and train staff in some of the most complicated and hard-to-find skills in the marketplace.

This is a challenge that Booz Allen faces every day. The global consultancy helps Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and military organizations defend against cyberattacks, adopt analytics capabilities, and navigate tremendous digital transformation efforts.

We continue to fuel retention and elevate our employee value proposition by investing in the development of our people. Our best-in-class learning ecosystem and the priority we place on employee development are key differentiators to the Booz Allen experience.

The Booz Allen talent development ecosystem is evolving from a functional university taxonomy powered by SharePoint into an integrated system that enables career development across roles and job families, driven by strategic business priorities, called Empower U. Weaving together skills across leadership, business management, functional expertise, and core capabilities, this unified digital experience empowers our workforce.


In the past, we faced the challenge of aligning experiences with the unique priorities of each business line. Specifically, we needed to equip employees with the skills necessary not only to meet client needs but also to deliver solutions the “Booz Allen Way.” Our strategic partnerships with key stakeholders, including technology experience groups (TXGs), the chief technology office (CTO), and communities of practice, were instrumental in curating effective learning within our capability academies. TXGs, as company-sponsored technical communities, provide networking opportunities, professional development, and insights into technological advancements for all employees. This collaborative approach ensures that our workforce stays ahead in a dynamic technical landscape, fostering career growth and innovation.

Since the launch of Empower U in September 2023, we’ve witnessed more than a surge; it’s a tidal wave of professionals returning, hungry for skill elevation and credentials. Our data isn’t just numbers; it’s a narrative of growth: a 28 percent spike in user engagement, a 7 percent increase in certifications, and a staggering 40 percent rise in employees adorned with one or more Booz Allen badges.


In the competitive arena described by the Dec 2023 PWC Federal Contractor Benchmark report, Booz Allen isn’t just participating; we’re leading:

  • Surpassing expectations at 10.4 points below the term rate benchmark median of 24.2
  • Excelling with grace at 4.5 points below the voluntary term rate benchmark median of 12.1
  • Growing robustly at 5.3 points above the headcount growth benchmark median

But we’re not stopping here. The evolution of Empower U is in full swing. We’re regularly unveiling groundbreaking features like Degreed Assistant, meticulously designed to tailor skills-based learning experiences to individual nuances and needs. Our vision extends beyond mirroring industry trends. We’re forging ahead, imparting to our workforce insights that aren’t just current but future ready and aligning capabilities seamlessly with client expectations, all the “Booz Allen Way.”

For more insights and details, join us at the ATD 2024 International Conference & EXPO. During our session, A Guided Workshop on How to Launch a Capability Academy, we will describe the characteristics and benefits of a capability academy, outline how our organization launched its capability academies, and offer advice on developing a capability academy at your organization.

About the Author

Jason Jury is the talent development manager at Booz Allen Hamilton responsible for building programs to increase technical capacity firmwide. He collaborates with firm leadership to develop and curate learning experiences that bridge the gap between business and talent development strategies in the areas such as AI, cybersecurity, cloud, data science, and software engineering. Jason has 20+ years of L&D experience working at Marriott, Bechtel, and currently Booz Allen Hamilton.

About the Author

Li-Ming Yang is a curriculum manager for in-demand technical skills at Booz Allen Hamilton. She drives and secures partner relationships to curate training portfolios and engage employees across the firm in different learning opportunities. She uses enterprise-wide platforms to analyze current trends and identify training needs. Prior to this role, she was a learning strategist and instructional systems designer leading the development and delivery of learning solutions for government agencies.

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Thank you Jason and Li-Ming for sharing about Empower U at Booz Allen Hamilton . I know the session will be a big hit at ATD24 because of the interest in capability academies.
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