Meet Dr. Marta Wilson, Founder and CEO of Transformation Systems, Inc. (TSI), an executive strategies and management systems engineering firm. Her passion for community service and promoting women in the government contracting industry is reflected in the ownership of her small business as well as her goal of leading the charge in corporate social responsibility.
Wilson discusses how she formed her company, the importance of corporate social responsibility through her program Feed to Lead, and what some of her favorite business books are.
WashingtonExec: Please tell us a little bit about your background and what led to your founding of Transformation Systems, Inc.
Wilson: After receiving my doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology from Virginia Tech in 1993, I became associate director of a multi-university, industrial and systems engineering applied research center and traveled globally for several years with brilliant thought leaders facilitating large-scale business transformation initiatives. Then, in 2002 I launched TSI with a leap of faith, a credit card and a dream of leading to success a dynamic company of PhDs and possibility thinkers who would guide executives to achieve audacious enterprise transformation goals. My dream became reality.
WashingtonExec: How and why did you start the Feed to Lead Program?
Wilson: My parents raised me to help others, and as a business owner, I believe in corporate social responsibility. When I launched “Feed to Lead,” my charitable aim was to make a positive impact in our community. The mission of “Feed to Lead” is to nourish leadership potential in those who need a helping hand. To this end, TSI is strategically aligned in a variety of ways with our charities of choice including: So Others Might Eat, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and the Equal Footing Foundation.
WashingtonExec: How has Feed to Lead changed and grown since its founding?
Wilson: “Feed to Lead” began small with a bit of funding and limited volunteerism. Since then, we’ve made long-term, multi-year earmarks to fund the program. We sponsor opportunities for employees to volunteer each month including running races, serving meals, sorting toys, donating books, assembling backpacks and more. TSI covers registration fees and provides transportation to all activities, and we give employees eight hours of paid time annually to participate in the program. We do everything we can to make corporate social responsibility fun and easy.
WashingtonExec: What are some goals you have for the program this year?
Wilson: Our aim is to continue growing “Feed to Lead” as the driver of TSI’s corporate social responsibility mission. In 2012 we want all employees to participate in the program with a full calendar of monthly volunteer opportunities including literacy initiatives, empty bowl suppers, robotics tournaments, fundraising races and more. This year’s goals include adding the Wounded Warrior Project as a recipient of funding and volunteer time, increasing our total financial donations to community outreach and giving all first-year proceeds from TSI’s forthcoming leadership book to charity.
WashingtonExec: What do you think other small business executives can learn from your company’s Feed to Lead program?
Wilson: Corporate social responsibility is the right thing to do. It’s great for the community and for business. Stellar community outreach programs attract talent, contribute to team cohesiveness and make your organization a great place to work. Also, your customers and suppliers like it when they see your company contributing to charities they believe in or even support themselves. Finally, getting involved in causes that matter is an excellent way to meet like-minded people with whom you want to do business. It’s all good!
WashingtonExec: Where do you see the role of women-owned business in the overall government contracting community?
Wilson: Women are vital members of the government contracting community. If you look around at successful and emerging contractors, you will see the evidence. Women are proven to be effective and trustworthy business leaders in this highly competitive and demanding market. As the future unfolds, I predict more women will take the plunge and excel in the world of federal contracting, and I encourage it. Opportunities are endless for women to make even bigger contributions in helping our valued government customers achieve their goals.
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite book or what book has made the biggest impact on your life?
Wilson: I write business books, so I read a lot. In fact, my latest book on total enterprise leadership is due out in October. I love the bodies of work published by Jim Collins, Stephen Covey and Margaret Wheatley. I read all of their books and recommend that executives have at least these three seminal titles in their libraries: Built to Last (Collins), The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey) and Leadership and the New Science (Wheatley). Currently, I’m reading Collins’ new release, Great by Choice.
WashingtonExec: What is something most people might not know about you?
Wilson: For fun, I love exploring the Chesapeake Bay by sailboat from early spring through late fall, and I have some secret anchorages that I can’t reveal. Last fall, for the final outing of the season, we sailed for three days during the Thanksgiving holiday and anchored out each night. Although my guests and I were covered from head to toe in cold-weather gear on that trip, the beautiful serenity of the Bay is always breathtaking. The splendor of nature never ceases to amaze me.