Joining the military made Erika Glon realize her potential as a leader. Today, she’s harnessing that promise as vice president of marketing for CACI, developing strategic marketing and communications campaigns that help drive company growth and elevate brand and mission awareness.
“Looking back to high school, I definitely wouldn’t have considered myself a leader,” Glon told WashingtonExec. “But after going through training in the military, I realized that I could really take on any task that was given to me, and I could lead others to do the same. The military trained me to lead diverse teams of various sizes and backgrounds.”
Glon spent 13 years with the Wisconsin Air National Guard, with seven of those years being on active-duty orders. She joined in 1999 as a college freshman. Although she wasn’t completely sure what the guard was, she was drawn to the opportunity to become a security forces officer. Considering her desire to go into federal law enforcement, Glon decided to join, and eventually that desire grew stronger.
“It started as a normal weekend career in the guard, but after about two years, my whole world changed,” she says. “After 9/11, I was activated to work full-time at my base.”
Glon’s base was an hour from her college campus, so she’d work 12-hour night shifts, get minimal sleep, drive back to school for classes and then drive right back to base. She did this for several years.
On her 21st birthday, Glon was deployed overseas to Bahrain in support of Operation Noble Eagle. This is where she gained a great deal of her law enforcement and security experience.
Experiences to Last a Lifetime
While in Bahrain, Glon was tasked with law enforcement and security at an air base. Initially, she hesitated to take a semester off from school and her friends, “but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life,” she says. “It allowed me to bond deeply with my teammates and learn the meaning of true comradeship and leadership.”
Glon never returned to being a normal college student. She continued working full time at the Air National Guard base until she graduated, and after graduation she traveled across the U.S. to other Air Force bases that needed security support.
“I would protect multimillion-dollar government resources such as aircraft,” Glon explains. “And I’d perform all the law enforcement duties on the base, such as apprehensions, traffic violations and domestic abuse responses.”
In 2005, Glon got an opportunity to work in strategic communications and outreach for the Defense Department in Washington, D.C.
She worked at the Pentagon for two years as the chief of strategic communications for the Directorate of Strategic Plans and Programming. While there, she developed and communicated internal and external Air Force messages during the Quadrennial Defense Review, and managed dozens of events on Capitol Hill and nationwide. This is where her love of marketing and communications began.
While at the Pentagon, Glon simultaneously attended training to earn her commission in security forces. After earning her commission in 2007, she took on the duties of leading an 80-person unit in the absence of her commander, and she advised senior leaders on issues relating to global and national security as the anti-terrorism force protection officer.
Finding Her Passion
After her time at the Pentagon, Glon pursued her passion in marketing and event planning with a small government contractor. Then in 2009, she became a speech writer and special events planner for the commander of the Air Force District of Washington at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. She also began graduate school in 2010 for public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University.
In 2011, Glon launched her career as a government civilian employee in the public affairs office at AFDW as the media director, later serving as the outreach director. Eventually, she became the deputy director of public affairs.
Unfortunately, during this time, after 13 years in the guard, Glon received a medical retirement for a back injury she sustained early in her career. She was honorably discharged in 2013.
“And as an enlisted member, I learned the art of listening and teamwork,” she says.
Being an officer in security forces taught Glon to make quick decisions under pressure and to always be accountable for her actions as a leader.
“That all translates very well to my current job,” she says.
Glon spent a total of seven years at AFDW before reaching another turning point in her career: being selected to the Secretary of the Air Force Education with Industry program.
The fellowship allows government employees to work in industry for a year. Glon left her civilian Air Force position and was assigned to Coca-Cola in Washington, D.C., in the government relations office.
“And that’s where I completely fell in love with industry and corporate marketing,” she says. “I realized that I was capable of doing, and really wanted to do, so much more marketing and strategic communications than what I was able to do in public affairs for the government.”
Right after that year with Coca-Cola, Glon was hired by CACI as the director of marketing and communications. She hasn’t looked back since.
“I love being busy and knowing that my work is making a difference,” she says. “I knew that would happen here with CACI.”
Glon was drawn to CACI because of the culture of integrity and ethics, and for the opportunity to work for a company that supports the military and national security, even though she wasn’t in uniform anymore.
And while her background in security and law enforcement doesn’t traditionally lead itself to a career in marketing and communications, Glon says the key values instilled in her during training carry over into whatever she is doing.
“I learned that leadership is about active listening, being approachable and working collaboratively,” she says. “These values can translate to any job.”
Leading CACI’s Marketing Team
CACI’s corporate communications team is ground zero for any incoming marketing, branding and strategic communications requests across the entire company. As vice president of marketing, Glon leads a small full-service team of motion graphic artists, designers, writers, web developers, trade show managers and a digital media strategist.
“We’re a pretty small team, but we’re very mighty and everybody is an expert at what they do,” she says. “And they’re extremely flexible and agile.”
The team’s designers produce custom, interactive graphics and multimedia productions, which visually represent the company’s brand to its key audiences. The technical team runs the corporate social media accounts and the company website.
Collectively, the team develops strategic marketing and communications campaigns, and manages logistics and execution for CACI’s participation in all of its trade shows nationwide. Requests for any of the above come in daily, so the team is constantly prepared and on its toes.
“We partner on a daily basis with our talent acquisition team, our public relations director, the employee communications team, our diversity and inclusion team, legal, export control, you name it,” Glon says. “We work with just about every area of the company, driving the communications and coordinating the strategy throughout the different groups.”
And with all these responsibilities, Glon says, the communications team remains laser-focused on the company’s growth and how to add to it.
In the past year, it has developed several strategic communications campaigns enterprisewide, and hundreds of marketing assets that have added value to the company by promoting growth and developing trust and awareness among key audiences.
“And they consistently reinforce our brand and core messages across all marketing platforms,” Glon says.
Her team’s digital campaigns and trade show requests have increased dramatically over the past year. She doesn’t see that slowing down anytime soon.
“I’m very proud of all the marketing campaigns, dozens of them, that the team has executed, and the custom messaging and graphics that come with each one,” Glon says.
And for the remainder of the year, Glon and her team are building an employee advocacy program that will empower employees to share important news and engaging content. They’re also putting together an external campaign to honor CACI’s legacy during its 60th anniversary in July.
The Success that Sticks with You
Glon and her team have reached significant milestones in the past couple of years, like redesigning and launching the company’s website in 2020, which ultimately won a Stevie Award.
She’s most proud of her small and talented team in general.
“The people that I work with who put their heart and soul into every project that they do, and the collaboration that we have with the various groups within the company, is really something to be proud of,” she adds.
Along with the wins Glon has achieved at CACI, she’s immensely proud of representing CACI as a corporate dancer in D.C.’s Dancing with the Stars gala.
“I was able to do that for three years and raise over $230,000 for homeless veterans in Washington, D.C.,” she says.
The money raised was donated to Operation Renewed Hope Foundation, for which Glon sits on the board of advisers. And as a disabled veteran, helping veterans is very close to Glon’s heart.
“I was never a dancer, but it was an opportunity that presented itself to me,” she says. “And I’m very grateful for that, and grateful that I could give back to homeless veterans.”
Much like what led to her experiences and successes throughout her eclectic career, Glon advises others to be open, take chances and be unafraid to make bold career moves.
“Never stop learning and never stop growing,” she says. “Be open to learning something new every day- you never know who you’re going to learn something from.” Once someone loves their job the way Glon says she loves hers, work becomes enjoyable and rewarding.
“Once you find that job that you love, just be you,” she says. “Life will throw you curveballs and things are going to get difficult, but take the high road and maintain your integrity, and you can’t go wrong with that.”
Of course, success doesn’t come without support. Glon says she wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without her family — her husband and two kids — and a passion for what CACI stands for.
“CACI is profoundly supportive of national security, our people and our customers nationwide, and the work we do reflects that,” she says.