Position: Chief executive, Patriot Technologies, an information technology solutions company in Frederick.
Career highlights: Chief financial officer, Patriot Technologies; practice leader, government services, Global Learning Systems; chief financial officer and chief operating officer, Electronic Learning Facilitators Inc. (bought by Global Learning); founder and president, Davlin Inc.; chief financial officer, Hay Systems Inc.; and director of finance, production and administration, Advanced Research Development Corp.
Education: BA, accounting, Frostburg University; MBA, finance, Sellinger School of Business, Loyola College. He is a certified public accountant.
Personal: Lives in Woodbine with wife, Linda, and their children, Gena, 12; Luke, 11; Jake, 9; and, Grace, 7.
How did you get to where you are?
Largely, I have a firm belief in making the people around me successful. My focus, instead of being on me, is usually for the other people around me. As a result, I'm successful. It's a different approach, a different philosophy than most people have. But it has worked for me so far, and usually as a result of that you create a team with a common goal, common vision. . . . It becomes very powerful when everybody comes together to achieve the same thing. I've manifested that pretty much throughout my career. I tend to be behind the scenes, instead of at the forefront. It's unimportant to me that I get the credit, because in actuality, the people doing the work deserve the credit and it's a matter of recognizing that. It's not about me. Every place along the way, I believed in treating people with respect, compassion, being honest with them, and it helps in being fair. A lot of people call that common sense. But, in business oftentimes very little of that gets applied and it's such a fundamental thing in business. At its core, that's what got me to where I am.
From early on, I always wanted to run something, do my boss's job better than he or she could do. I thought about what I could teach the people I work for in terms of how I think the company should run or should treat its employees -- and create a pleasant work environment. It's always about striving to improve the organization and having fun doing it. You create a fun environment and move a company forward collectively, and out of that I often ended up running the unit, department or company. Although I didn't set out to run it, I just almost always ended up in that position. And, as I got older, I realized the ability to do that is a unique skill set.
I don't consider myself to be necessarily smarter than anyone else. But I do work harder than many people are willing to achieve what we set out to achieve. It's really having a good value system and treating everyone fair that has helped me to be successful. I need to make a difference and have an impact on the people around me. A good challenge always helps. Often times, one of the large obstacles is what I call people. In any organization there are human dynamics and interactions. You have people that work well together and people that don't work well together. . . . If you have your people working well together, things are easier to change. Play nicely in the sandbox together to overcome personal differences and realize the benefit of doing so. I once had a review from my boss and the feedback I got was that I was apolitical. And it puzzled me because I thought that that was a good thing. It goes back to treating people fairly, leading them, being honest and jelling a team of people together and whenever you do so, is it powerful!
Lessons learned? Along the way, I've always tried to be honest with everyone around me in a compassionate way. When I do so, I don't have to remember what I said. The truth is the truth. I don't believe in ripping people apart. I do believe in giving feedback even if it's negative. People appreciate it, although they may not always want to hear it. You set a tone in the organization. People know you are going to work with them, you're going to be fair with them. And, once you do that you have set an environment where people are comfortable in working through the difficult issues.
-- Judith Mbuya