This summer, WashingtonExec reached out to successful leaders in government and government contracting to learn more about their habits, experiences and perspectives.
Matt Jones is president of TMA, where he has worked since April 2014. He previously led international business development in C4ISR at The Boeing Co., established consistent growth at Argon ST and spent seven years in the Navy as a cryptologist.
WashingtonExec: What was on your summer reading list?
Jones: I’m currently reading “Yellow Ribbon: The Secret Journal of Bruce Laingen.” The book is the actual journal kept by Mr. Laingen during the Iran hostage crisis. Laingen was the charge de affairs and senior U.S. official at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 when the embassy was overrun, where he remained captive for 444 days. I’m reading this book to gain a personal account of a pivotal event in both the U.S. and Iranian histories, and apply those lessons to today’s current events.
What I’m taking away is the author’s incredible ability to maintain a positive attitude and keep moving forward in the face of a dire situation. This is a lesson, as senior executives, we can all learn from and strive to apply in daily lives. It also provides some often needed perspective considering the challenges we face as opposed to the adversity others have or are currently experiencing.
WashingtonExec: Tell me about a time in your life when you had to really stretch yourself in order to learn and grow.
Jones: When I was 30 years old, my former employer told me I was going to be responsible for leading, managing and growing our corporate office in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. At the time, the office had just one employee and $40,000 of backlog. I don’t think I had any idea what I was doing. I’ve always been driven to deliver results and meet commitments, so I started cold-calling large businesses and doing the hard work of developing an executable strategy.
Three years later when my company was acquired, we had grown to nearly $10 million annually in revenue. I learned so much during the process, mostly from mistakes, and I’m a different and better leader today because of it. I was incredibly fortunate to have several mentors, from both inside and outside my company, who contributed to our success and the team of engineers who joined our team really delivered for the organization.
WashingtonExec: If you could go back and give your younger self career and/or life advice, what would you say?
Jones: I believe that every event and decision in our lives shapes who we are today. While there are many moments in life that I wish I would have chosen an alternate path, it is unclear if I would be where and who I am today had that occurred. The key to missteps isn’t avoiding them; it’s learning from them. It can sometimes take a long time to get the perspective required to learn, but it always ultimately comes.
WashingtonExec: What is your favorite city to visit? What do you enjoy doing there?
Jones: My favorite city in Sydney, Australia. I’ve had the good fortune of formerly working international business development for years and building strong customer relationships in Australia. Sydney is always my point of entry and departure. Having spent significant time there, I’ve learned where all the secret restaurants and pubs are so I always feel like a cool kid when I visit.
WashingtonExec: Tell me about an app, device or type of technology you personally love and why.
Jones: I’m a technology early adopter. My favorite technology right now is my Wi-Fi blinds that rise and lower with the sun leveraging micro-weather stations. I tend to chase any technology that makes my life more efficient. All that being said, my greatest love is walking out to my driveway before the run rises to grab and read The Wall Street Journal. There is no other thing I have that is more predictable, relaxing and enriching. I’m lost without a physical paper to start my day.