Jennifer Felix ’92 has one goal in mind when it comes to leadership – helping everyone maximize their potential.
As president and CEO of ASRC Federal – a Maryland-based government services subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation owned by 13,000 Iñupiat shareholders – Felix has learned firsthand what it means to lead. It starts with empowering others and finding inspiration in every journey, she says.
“I’ve surrounded myself with talented people from different backgrounds in hopes of helping them develop and pursue growth opportunities,” says Felix. “Seeing others take on leadership roles has been fulfilling and being able to encourage and support others ultimately is what leadership is all about.”
Felix’s journey in the business world began in high school when she took an interest in learning how businesses operated. That curiosity led her to the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, where she enrolled as an accounting major.
Accounting was a natural fit because of its applicability in any business context, Felix says. Maryland Smith provided exposure to real-world experiences in the classroom as well as an opportunity to further explore potential career paths.
“Accounting to me was practical in the sense that every aspect of a business is reported through its numbers,” says Felix. “If you understand those numbers, then by default you’ll understand the business. That seemed like a great way to gain a holistic understanding of organizations.”
After graduating from Maryland Smith, Felix joined Deloitte as a senior manager, where she leveraged her accounting background to conduct financial audits in the technology and government contracting industries.
After eight years, she left Deloitte, driven to seek out C-suite positions. Over the next few years, Felix took on numerous executive roles at various companies before arriving at ASRC Federal in 2019 as its executive vice president and COO.
Having already served as CFO at previous companies, Felix had become comfortable with supporting CEOs in running business operations, meeting goals and achieving growth. Moving into the COO role meant a departure from that familiarity, she says, but the potential learning experience was exciting.
“When I joined ASRC Federal, it was an opportunity to step away from the finance role,” says Felix. “I had been so confident in where I was, so it was a risk in that respect, but it enabled me to really focus on learning the rest of the business and step outside of my comfort zone.”
Then, six months into her role as COO, Felix was selected as the company’s new CEO. Stepping in to lead almost 8,000 employees in the midst of the pandemic was daunting, Felix says. What aided her during that transition, she says, was utilizing the support system around her.
“The path to CEO was something that happened a little faster than I expected,” says Felix. “I think leaning on and relying on the people that had been here for quite some time was paramount.”
Now almost two years into her tenure, Felix says she has appreciated being able to learn from others while also advocating for their continued growth. She encourages all who are navigating their own careers to maintain an open mind, embrace change and never stop learning.
“Your learning journey does not end by any means when you leave school and what you study may not be what you’ll do for the rest of your career,” says Felix. “Develop a love for learning and try to understand how to grow from each experience.”
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.