Stephen Gillotte is CEO of Reinventing Geospatial, Inc. and a Pinnacle Awards finalist in the Intelligence Industry Executive of the Year category. Here, he shares what it was like to quit his job to start RGi, how he helps shape the next generation of GovCon leaders, advice for those looking to follow in his footsteps and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2018?
In 2018, we made the conscious decision to start being vocal about our community involvement. It wasn’t to brag about our give-back programs; rather, it was to lead by example.
We decided to vocalize our local programs focused on feeding hungry students, educating clients of the hyperthermia shelter, and helping develop close to 60 students while encouraging them to pursue careers supporting our intelligence community.
In recognition of the more than the 30 RGi’ers, friends and family members that contributed to our various community outreach programs during the past three years, we received two awards: second place for the Outstanding Corporate Citizen of the Year and first place for the Emerging Influential of the Year.
But it is by no means about the awards; it’s about leading by example and encouraging others to create an immediate and lasting impact in our local communities.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
I was a senior engineer on the fast track toward upper management working international captures in London. I found myself sitting at a dinner table with five or six of the company’s vice presidents, and during that conversation I realized the “big business corporate game” was not my mission. My mission was to have an impact on technology, the soldier/analyst and my local community. I simply realized that my path forward was to celebrate my 30th birthday by incorporating Reinventing Geospatial with the goal of “doing better” and having an immediate impact on everything I touch.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
Quitting my job, starting Reinventing Geospatial and letting everyone watch to see if I would be successful getting the company off the ground. On day one, I was widely naive of the challenges I would face over the course of the first year, first three years and first 10 years. Ten years in, I can’t imagine any other way of life!
Working essentially 24/7 can wear one down, but having a great team and being able to help our local community goes a long way to reinvigorate me every day.
How do you help shape the next-generation GovCon leaders?
It starts today, and the impacts we’ll have are 20-40 years in the future. Today, we support several organizations that focus heavily on education, such as the Reston Children’s Center, American Geographical Society and the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation to help grow tomorrow’s geospatial intelligence analysts and geospatial leaders.
In addition, we are helping educate (and clear!) tomorrow’s national security workforce through our spring co-op, summer internship and fall co-op programs. To date, we have brought in and helped educate close to 60 students, showing them real world problems, giving them access to management-level discussions, etc., all while preparing them for careers in the intelligence community.
What’s your best advice for aspiring leaders who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t wait for tomorrow — get involved today! Own your own initiative while having an immediate impact on your country, community, company, profession, career and self.