Like mother, like son. In WashingtonExec’s interview with the Jane Forman and Jon Carr – it is clear that a keen eye for business runs in the family. Carr grew up watching his mother, now Principal at Deep Water Point, and was inspired by her work to join the same industry. Now in the business himself, Carr is working as the Principal and Capture Manager in the Business Development Organization at E3 Federal Solutions.
WashingtonExec: What was your dream job when you were growing up? What is your dream job now?
Jon Carr: Growing up, when asked the question of what I wanted to do for a living, I would say, “My mom will just give me her job.” This might sound strange, but my dream job was to do whatever my mom did; to be in “business.” I didn’t know what “business” was, but I knew that if my mom was happy and successful at the job she went to every day, then I wanted to follow in those exact footsteps.
I’m fortunate that my job today fulfills my hopes and aspirations of a dream job – I guess I set my expectations appropriately at a young age … What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the self-motivation and hard work that it takes to be successful in this industry. Contrary to what I assumed when growing up, nothing is going to be handed to me; I have to work for it. So my dream job now is to continually work to be what I’ve always wanted to be – as successful as my mom in “the business.”
Jane Forman: My dream job growing up was to be a singer in a band. I wanted to be Stevie Nicks. The requirement that one has some musical inclination, like a good singing voice, wasn’t going to deter me. Fortunately, the necessity to make a living for my family sent me in another direction, and I began my career in sales.
My dream job now is exactly what I am doing. After almost 40 years in the industry, I am consulting to companies that need guidance in developing growth strategies and implementing processes to help achieve that growth.
Growing up, when asked the question of what I wanted to do for a living, I would say, “My mom will just give me her job.” This might sound strange, but my dream job was to do whatever my mom did; to be in “business.”
WashingtonExec: Did your parent give you any professional advice while you were growing up that sticks out in your mind?
Jon Carr: The advice I received as a kid, which sticks with me today, was given to us (my brother, Andrew, and me) regarding the sports we played, included “Practice makes perfect” and “Learn from your mistakes.”
I applied these words of wisdom every day while working client delivery. During the course of many years, I have greatly improved my ability to interpret needs, develop solutions and work with teams to implement those solutions. This practice has also allowed me to transition into roles where I can leverage my delivery experience to capture and shape opportunities, while keeping the customer’s needs in mind. However, I realize that no matter the role I’m in, practice brings its share of mistakes. I’ve certainly made mistakes along the way (and probably will continue to), but I will continue to apply the wise advice of my formative years to learn from them rather than repeat those same mistakes.
Ultimately, the advice helped me realize that every task I’m given (no matter the complexity) is an opportunity to further improve my current abilities or expand into areas that help me grow professionally – and if I make mistakes on these tasks along the way, be sure to understand why the mistake was made and what is going to be done to avoid it in the future.
Jane Forman: My father was a General in the Air Force in a tumultuous time (aren’t they all). While he didn’t give me professional advice per se (he assumed I would grow up, go to college and get married — that was the era), I learned from him what it took to be a good leader. His subordinates often called him “tough but fair.” That, and a sense of humor have been the cornerstone of my leadership style.
WashingtonExec: Describe your professional background. What was your first job? What do you do in your current role?
Jon Carr: My first job was as a lifeguard in high school – a job I continued every summer for four years. Luckily, I didn’t have to save any lives, so it entailed a lot of sitting and a lot of sun. Once I grew out of that phase, and while in college at James Madison University, I worked at the IT Helpdesk. At that point, I knew nothing about IT, so my “expert” advice to my unfortunate clients on the other end of the phone usually consisted of “restart your computer.” Nine times out of 10 that didn’t work … that job lasted one year.
What I consider my first professional job after college was working at The Ambit Group. Ambit kindly took me in as an analyst to help support the Office of Chief Information Officer at USDA. Being my first professional job, and working with the OCIO of USDA nonetheless, I had to grow up fast. During my two years there, I quickly established an understanding of the importance of client interactions, delivery and professionalism, each of which I value today.
I spent the next seven years at Grant Thornton in their Global Public Sector, starting off as a consultant and moving up to manager. Grant Thornton exposed me to many sides of the consulting business, from client delivery to business development, capture and proposal management. This experience demonstrated to me how all aspects of the business play a role together, motivating me every day to work hard and instrumentally solidifying my desire for a career in this industry.
My current role as a Principal and Capture Manager in the Business Development Organization at E3 Federal Solutions allows me to use my experience and focus my attention on contributing to E3’s growth. Specifically, my job serves to help E3 continue its success by further building relationships, expanding current business, and capturing new opportunities. E3’s success is a direct result of the priority they place on their people, their delivery excellence, the culture and values they practice, and an organizational structure that encourages employees to be their best, and I am grateful to be part of the team.
Jane Forman: My career has always been in sales, starting with selling offset printing presses to the federal government in the late ’70s for AB Dick Company. I then spent the next two decades at Wang Laboratories in multiple management roles, responsible for the sales of hardware, software and services. A subsequent four year stint at Qwest Communications expanded my experience to include telecom. And then 10 years at CACI as Senior Vice President of Business Development rounded out my business development career.
WashingtonExec: Do people know you’re your mother’s son? What’s it like bearing that moniker?
Jon Carr: Not a first. Having different last names probably plays a part in this, but it is hard to go through one full week without crossing paths with someone that has either worked with, knows of or supported her. I quickly learned that the name Jane Forman carries a lot of weight in this industry; she is very well-respected and for good reason.
When/if people know, bearing the moniker of Jane Forman’s son is a very good thing. I do not shy away from it and only hope to live up to her reputation.
WashingtonExec: Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Do you think you’ll ever work with your mom?
Jon Carr: Fifteen years is a long time from now, but my only hope is that I continue to learn and grow in this industry and consistently make the best of opportunities that are afforded to me – all in an effort to provide a life for my family in the same way that my mom worked so hard to provide for me, my brother and my sister.
I don’t think my mom will ever retire, but at this point in our careers, I don’t envision us working directly together. That said, her advice and guidance regarding situations I’m facing has proven hugely beneficial – she has experience in what I’m doing today, and her experience and ability to navigate certain situations is something that I can learn from.
WashingtonExec: What do you do in your free time?
Jon Carr: Practice golf, so that one day I can beat my mom. Every time I play with her, she beats me. It’s like she gets in my head. Even when I’m several shots up, I quickly lose it as soon as I think, “Oh man, this round could be the round that I beat her.” Or, better yet, as soon as I think it, she goes three under par in the next nine holes…
In addition to that, my wife and I spend a lot of time traveling to new and visited destinations, and, of course, playing golf together along the way. Also, just last summer I played in the Potomac Whiffle Ball League. The whiffle ball league was far more intense than I anticipated – to be determined if that tradition continues this year…
Jane Forman: My schedule is much more flexible now so I’m able to spend more time on the golf course and more time traveling. I need to keep up my golf skills to prolong that inevitable day when my sons can beat me!
WashingtonExec: Is there anything else that you’d like to elaborate on?
Jane Forman: Yes, I’d like to say a few words on what a joy it is to have children in the same industry and be able to have that added element of connection. It’s difficult enough to get sons to call their mothers, but I get calls regularly on business questions. And it’s nice to know that I continue to have some value/advice to offer.