Bridget McDermott, 2023 Outstanding Women in Business recipient

Bridget is the Product Line Director at BAE Systems


Bridget has been with BAE Systems for over 15 years, holding a variety of roles ranging from managing subcontracts to working in manufacturing facilities and program management. She now manages the entire product life cycle, from development to production to long-term supportability and sustainment. She graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s in communications, plus a law degree from Suffolk University School of Law. Prior to BAE, Bridget was an attorney for three years, focusing on bankruptcy and real estate litigation. She was the recipient of the Electronic Systems Program Manager of the Year for Growth in 2021, is a co-founder for the Southern New Hampshire chapter of Young Professionals, and recently joined the Greater Boston Chapter of Women in Defense.

Bridget Mcdermott Credit Vincent ArdizoniWhat are your passions outside of work?

I’m a people person, which sounds so simple, but I thrive on interpersonal relationships with people where I can support people both inside and outside of work. That’s important to me. I’ve had a number of people help me along the way, not just professionally but personally. So, being able to do that for other people and still be a recipient of it, motivates me.

I also have a daughter now, so I’m hoping to do as well as my parents did.  But it’s a different world. My life before and after her is kind of like a different place. Making sure that she grows up to be a good person is probably one of the things that motivates me the most.

What are your leadership values?

It really comes back to how you treat people. I have been in situations where I’ve been treated so well and it’s made me excel. That’s how I want the people who I work with to feel, and that makes a difference.

If you’re treating people with respect and supporting them, they’re going to take care of your business. At BAE, it’s really easy to be motivated by the work we do, because we do such good things for our men and women in the armed services.

What advice do you have for future women business leaders?

As a kid, my parents told me I can do anything a boy can do. And it was annoying as a child to constantly hear that. But I think about it now, and I have no problem being in a room of all men. I feel like I belong. And I’ve met a lot of women who don’t feel the same. I think having that notion of doing anything a boy can do kind of beat into my head as a child helped. My dad was adamant about it, and I’m very thankful for that now. I don’t think I’d be here if they didn’t give me that kind of mantra.

I would have liked to tell myself early on in my career to be kind to yourself, and it’s okay to not know everything, and don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve learned I can depend on my team, and I can constantly be in a learning mode.

How important is mentorship to you?

It is hugely important to me. What I love about mentoring is that it doesn’t have to be formal. The kind of relationships that you build in your network over many years, those are the people that are going to help you when you need help. And a thing I try to impress upon people is that a formal mentor doesn’t need to have the keys to the kingdom. That’s not how it works. It’s about building relationships. You have different mentors at different points of time in your career.

Oftentimes, it’s the people that you work next to, day in and day out, or the people you’re going to call in five years to ask a question and bounce ideas off of. Those can be some of the best mentoring relationships that you could ever imagine.

I had some great female mentors early in my career — just being able to see them do their jobs allowed me to think I could do lots of jobs. Visibility and presence, being open about what people have going on in their lives allows other people to see themselves in those roles. There were some women in senior leader roles that, early in my career, I saw and realized what’s possible; I want to go do what she’s doing.

Categories: Outstanding Women in Business