We work in a time where women make up 59% of the US labor force and earn 60% of all undergraduate and graduate degrees. However, women only hold 4.6% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies, 9% of management positions in the information technology field, and 0% of CEO positions in the financial services, healthcare and social industries. Those numbers don’t add up to me either… I’m proud to work for a company that defies those statistics with leaders encouraging an alternative narrative.
We’re midway through our first quarter with our newly appointed President and CEO, Tiffanny Gates. Tiffanny’s resume is an impressive one. Before joining Novetta as Federal President in January 2016, she held top leadership positions at numerous technology and defense corporations in addition to owning and operating her company, ETG, before the successful merger and integration with ManTech International. Armed with this experience, Gates is motivated to mentor and guide hungry employees in attaining their own professional goals at Novetta. One of those efforts was supporting the revamp and launch of our 2017 Women in Technology and Leadership (WITL) program. At Novetta, 19.7% of our technology roles are held by women – nearly double the industry standard of 10%.
As a 30 year-old female employee at the beginning of my career, I was given the opportunity to interview my new CEO:
Tiffanny, you’ve had a very distinguished career, can you describe some of your past roles or experiences that helped mold you into the leader you are today?
I believe that with every job you have, the challenges and successes you experience help shape the future leader you become. I started my career in the military as a Navy Cryptologic Officer, where in addition to the job requirements, you were also responsible for the welfare of those in your command. Taking care of the people behind the job was just as important as the mission.
I was also taught how critical it is to understand all aspects of an operation in order to make better decisions for the group as a whole. As I took on new roles throughout my career, these two things would continue to be important.
Building my first company was the next challenge to take me completely out of my comfort zone. By that time, I had worked in almost every aspect of the mission I would soon support and felt confident on the operational front. But would anyone follow me? I had to believe that if I built a company that was focused on mission, where the people were taken care of, and in an environment/culture that allowed them to focus on customer needs, it would be a success. This proved to be a good formula.
Twenty years later, I find myself giving this advice to anyone who has the desire to take on a leadership role. Know your people, and know the job. Don’t rush to take charge until you understand both. When you are ready for the next level of leadership, it should be just as obvious to your current leadership as it is to your peers and your customers.
What made you choose Novetta?
When Peter LaMontagne, CEO at the time, approached me about coming to Novetta, his enthusiasm and excitement about the people and the mission were both immediately appealing. Upon meeting the team and learning more about our customers and capabilities, it became clear that this was a great company with amazing potential. Where there were perceived areas for improvement, I felt I could bring my experience. Where there were gaps in customer breadth, I felt I could open new doors. Where there was a need for additional business discipline, I felt I could bring structure and little bit of sass. (Sometimes this isn’t appreciated – but nevertheless, necessary).
What motivates you?
At this point in my career, what motivates me the most is working with the employees to achieve common goals. This includes assistance in a few areas:
- Help mentor and make individual professional goals reachable.
- Identify opportunities for team collaboration to create unity among groups and divisions.
- Grow the Federal business base along with our reputation in the community. (And win …. I’m a big fan of elbowing my way into new lines of business or customer spaces when I know I’ve got the best team behind me.)
What career accomplishment(s) are you most proud of? Why?
I really feel that single career accomplishments mean the most to you at the time you achieve them. I’ve had amazing teams to work with and a lot of success (mostly classified) along the way. I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far and by no means do I think I’m done. But what I’m proudest about is accomplishing all of this while successfully raising two children, along with my husband, who inspire me every day.
When you think of successful employees you’ve managed over the years, what characteristics of those employees made them successful?
The most important characteristic I look for in an employee is an ability to create and work with a well-rounded team. Recognizing their own strengths and weaknesses, and surrounding themselves with others that help fill in gaps to make the team better as a whole takes honesty, maturity, and humility. The second most important characteristic is a sense of humor. You don’t have to be the funniest, you just have to recognize those moments in life when you should stop and laugh at yourself or the situation (and sometimes at others). It just means you won’t take yourself too seriously. This is even more necessary during times of adversity.
If you could offer Novettans one piece of advice on career growth and development, what would it be?
My one piece of advice would be to slow down and take assessment of your career and ensure it’s going in the direction you planned. Set and review your annual and long-term goals to ensure your role and responsibilities are mapping to a desired outcome. Then ask yourself if you know everything you need to know to be the best at the job you’re in. Perhaps you need additional education and training or just time to gain experience – don’t look so far ahead that you can’t take advantage of all there is to learn along the way.
It is with great pride that we stand behind Tiffanny in her new role as President & CEO and anticipate Novetta’s success to continue and expand. Stay tuned…
Additional articles featuring Tiffanny:
WashingtonExec: Feb 27, 2017 – 25 Leaders in Government Contracting You Should Know About
GOVCON Wire CEO Announcement: Feb 17, 2017
Inside Defense : July 22, 2016 – Government and Commercial Innovation, Silicon Valley Advances