Position: President and chief executive, Flight Explorer, an Alexandria company that provides global flight-tracking information to the aviation industry.
Career highlights: Founder, president and chief executive, SynXis Corp., a company, sold last year, that provided hotels with systems to manage their reservations; vice president, international, BDM International; vice president, Europe, Valmont Industries; vice president, international programs, Science Applications International Corp.; deputy assistant secretary, Africa, Near East and South Asia, U.S. Commerce Department; manager, international sales, Davy McKee; marketing director, Dravo and Dravotec; area director, Far East and Middle East, Dravo International; manager, commercial development, Dravo International; state representative, Pennsylvania House of Representatives; special assistant, U.S. Senator Richard S. Schweiker; contracting engineer, Chicago Bridge and Iron Co.
Education: BS, business, Virginia Tech; bachelor's degree in foreign trade, American Graduate School of International Management; certificate, marketing manager program, Columbia University School of Business and the Institute Francais de Gestion, Paris.
Personal: Lives with wife, Janet, an editor at washingtonpost.com, in Bethesda. Son Jim Kelly is an equity trader in New York.
How did you get to where you are?
Really hard work. When I've talked about my career, I've generally emphasized three things. First of all, I obviously have an understanding of technology. Secondly, I've had significant experience in government in a variety of different levels. I've been both an elected official, and I've been in administration. And thirdly, I've operated on a global basis. As you look back at my career, most of the things that I've done have had components of international, government and technology.
The biggest challenge I had was obviously in founding SynXis and growing it to be a successful company. That was particularly difficult because it was through a period where so many start-ups were crashing. It was difficult to take a new concept to market, it was difficult to raise money, and it was certainly difficult to maintain an operation on a global basis because we did start with operations in Europe as we did in the United States.
We made a decision right at the initiation of the company that it would be an international company. We set up operations in the Netherlands, and probably a third of our business was international.
So what we have now with Flight Explorer is a company that has been in existence for a relatively short time -- five years. It's got essentially a mature product in aircraft tracking and display. Many of the issues that we've faced at SynXis, I'm facing here at Flight Explorer.
And what we need to do now is grow Flight Explorer in the industry. Lesson number one is you need to have good people. It's all about the team. Lesson number two is it's all about the team. Lesson number three is it's all about the team. You can find customers and you can find investors. But putting together a great team and going forward with that team is what it's really all about.
-- Judith Mbuya