The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 8, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Nov. 12.
Next up is Marketing Executive of the Year (Small Company) finalist William Von Hagel, Jr., who’s vice president of solutions and marketing at CyberCore Technologies, LLC. Here, he talks accomplishments in his current organization, future focus areas and other career advice.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I have been successful in my current role by surrounding myself with a diverse team of experts, who have a depth of knowledge in various areas such as social media, website design, technical writing, etc. I have found that it’s not just sufficient to surround myself with great people, but my goal is to also create an environment where diverse, creative ideas are allowed to flourish.
I also follow the key concept of servant leadership. At its core, servant leadership is all about the people. I often use the words “flip the traditional organization model upside down,” because it’s truly the people that matter. If I can serve and support my team, because let’s face it – they are the ones who truly get things done — then performance, productivity and creativity go through the roof.
I push my team to realize their potential — mentoring and nurturing ideas in a professional, supportive environment and providing as much support as needed to get things done. I often find myself running to the IT department or fighting political battles to get necessary resources so my team can make things happen.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I am most proud of achieving a new corporate brand and identity for CyberCore to include logo, website, messaging and document templates! This new brand came together in approximately five months, incorporated a diverse set of stakeholders and leveraged subject matter experts in a variety of areas (logo/branding, website design, social media development).
With the backing of my CEO, I was able to obtain the necessary monetary, IT and security resources so my team and I could create the best brand possible. I am thrilled with the outcome of this rebrand — it is significantly better than what CyberCore had before and aligns with CyberCore’s business goals in a way that spurs growth for the company.
What made this rebrand special was that it was truly completed this from the ground up. I leveraged an industry-leading consulting company to work with CyberCore to redesign the fundamental organizational concepts for CyberCore. We went back to the key foundation of CyberCore — its employees. My goal for the rebrand was to develop a concept that facilitates business evolution while attracting new talent and creating a solid foundation for new business opportunities.
I was able to guide CyberCore through multiple brainstorming sessions, consolidating input and eventually the selection and implementation of a new logo, brand and corporate identity, including fonts, colors and messaging words that are consistent with the new brand.
As a software engineer in my early career, I had a lot of ideas and input to develop a user-friendly, easily information consumable website. With my team’s expertise, we were able to select the correct website architecture — one that quickly rendered graphic intensive sites to facilitate a positive user experience.
The final product, which I am extremely proud of, is a high-quality website, designed to match CyberCore’s brand goals and focus of attracting new talent and providing business information to potential clients and partners. Immediately after the website launch, the volume of traffic to CyberCore’s new website increased over 400%.
Although social media has been around in some form for decades, in the past 5-7 years, it has become more important than traditional methods of reaching individuals, both for potential employment and for communication to the world. Leveraging social media experts, I was able to double CyberCore’s social media presence, while creating a positive social media experience for employees and clients. We leverage LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on a regular basis.
What are your primary focuses areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
With the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic, the words “supply chain” have been front and center in the news. For many, this is the first time that people have thought about supply chain and what that means to obtaining products or equipment. This is extremely important to the future of the nation, because equipment purchased and used by the government and intelligence community must be secure and free from maliciously tainted and counterfeit products.
My primary focus area going forward is to educate and promote the importance of supply chain security using CyberCore’s third-party accredited International Standard Organization 28000:2007 — Secure Supply Chain Risk Management — and ISO/ International Electrotechnical Commission 20243-1:2018 — Mitigating Maliciously Tainted and Counterfeit Products — certifications.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
I made a grave mistake while developing an important government proposal for CyberCore 10 years ago. I was responding to four government procurement proposals, all almost identical to each other except for the product name; same requirements, same deadlines, everything. However, I missed one important thing — three of the proposals were due by 12 p.m. and one was due by 10 a.m.
After reading three of the RFP documents, I assumed all the proposals were due at the same time. As a result, I missed the delivery deadline and CyberCore could no longer submit that proposal. Once I learned of my mistake, I immediately took ownership and informed the CEO so we could determine a strategy forward.
The key lesson learned from this was — attention to details — or as I often say, “The details are in the details.” While accountability and integrity are paramount to respond to any failure, the primary lesson I learned is my recommitment to pay more attention to details; to not miss anything moving forward.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Do not underestimate the power of effective communication. Early in my career, I took pride in my technical work products, but minimized the importance of communication. As I matured during my technical and leadership career, there were two key communication elements that I have ingrained in me: looking at all situations from multiple views and understanding the differences between opinion, experience and data.