Q&A with 2016 GovCon Award Finalist Amy Wright, CEO of Macro Solutions

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Amy Wright, Macro Solutions

The finalists for this year’s Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were announced in September and WashingtonExec is bringing you its annual series with the nominees.

The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Professional Services Council have unveiled the finalists for the 14th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards, the premier awards event for the Washington area government contracting community. The winners will be named at a Nov. 1 gala dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner.

WashingtonExec talked with one of the finalists Amy Wright, CEO of Macro Solutions, to get her take on leadership and management, among other issues.

WashingtonExec: What would you say are the top one or two leadership qualities necessary to be a great leader?

Amy Wright: I believe the top two leadership qualities necessary to be a great leader are patience and confidence. You have to have confidence in your own capabilities and have patience to deal with anything that comes your way. It takes time to build a company from the ground up and the key to growing a company is not to be in a hurry and understand that there are going to be bumps in the road.

Most companies come with big sacrifices for those who start them and usually are not overnight success stories. It takes time, patience and a good strategy to build growth. All companies experience some rollercoaster years and it’s important to be patient and have confidence in the team you built as you navigate through the challenges.

WashingtonExec: If we were to speak directly to your leadership team, what would they say is your management style? How would your team describe your leadership qualities?

Amy Wright: I think my leadership team would say that I create an environment that allows them to express themselves on a variety of levels without the fear of judgment. I think they would also say that I give them quite a bit of leeway to make decisions and do what they think is best for their respective teams.

Through a leadership style of a bottom-up approach, I encourage all of my employees to think outward. I believe innovation and strong communication with all employees are core principals of a prosperous organization. I consistently seek my team’s input on how to improve and make the company more profitable.

On a monthly basis, I invite all project managers to share ideas and ways we can be more successful as an organization. I refer to these gatherings as the “meetings of the minds,” an opportunity for project managers to learn from and brainstorm with each other.

Overall, I see the organization’s achievements and high retention rate as a result of putting a large emphasis on customer satisfaction, strong relationship building, and a dedication to employees.

WashingtonExec: What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?

Amy Wright: The turning point in my career was when a company I worked for went out of business. I had always envisioned starting my own company and saw this as a sign that it was time to do so. It was never a matter of if I would ever branch out on my own, but because of my entrepreneurial spirit – a characteristic from my parents – it was just a matter of when. The situation aligned where my experience matched my ability to devote the necessary time to start this new endeavor.

So, in 2000, I decided to go all in and began Macro Solutions along with my brother Todd Barnes with the goal of building the kind of company that we would want to work for. Starting your own business allows you to implement the ideas that you have always had, but were not necessarily able to express in other work environments.

I was able to take prior IT management and consulting practices and make them into my own at Macro Solutions. I would advise those that believe they have a good idea and the time is right to jump in and take the risk.

Now, I am thrilled to say that 16 years later, we have grown from a company of two employees to a combined employee and contractor staff of more than 160. In 2015, we saw 40 percent growth and 2016 annual revenues are expected to be more than $40 million. Our growth trajectory looks promising for years to come.

WashingtonExec: What is the No. 1 business book that had the largest impact on your life or professional development?

Amy Wright: The No. 1 business book that has had the largest impact on both my professional and personal life is “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. This book made me think that if I worked hard enough and had a solid marketing plan, then I could eventually move beyond the threshold of a start up to a going-concern.

It also demonstrated that even the craziest idea could be successful if the climate and timing was right. Before starting a business it is important to ask yourself – is there a need in society for what your company is offering?

The book reiterated the importance of having patience and accepting that success will not happen overnight. I learned that it is essential to have a timeline for growth. Typically, after three years of running a business, you will know if your business will be successful – for me it was closer to five years.

Understanding that success is about incremental growth and that it takes a lot of moving pieces to come together for any business to take off was instrumental for me. Whether you are an entrepreneur or not, I highly recommend reading “The Tipping Point,” it has great nuggets of information and life lessons.

WashingtonExec: What three pieces of advice would you give your kids?

Amy Wright: While I don’t personally have kids, there are four pieces of advice that I would give my niece: learn an instrument, do something you are passionate about, be kind to everyone and always keep learning new things. I have played an instrument since I was a little girl, and have found that it is a great stress reliever and a skill that you can always get better at. Additionally, learning new things makes life interesting, keeps you humble and ensures you stay relevant.

Related: Founder, CEO Amy Wright Discusses Growth Strategy for Macro Solutions

 

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