Margarita Howard’s Insights on HX5’s Operational Strategies

Navigating the intricate world of government contracting is no small feat. It requires a blend of expertise, strategic foresight, and adaptability. HX5 is a company that has carved out a path to success in this complex system through its operational strategies. Margarita Howard, a service-disabled veteran and sole owner and CEO/president of HX5, offers insight into the company’s inner workings, revealing a resilient, forward-thinking, and profoundly committed organization.

One of the cornerstones of HX5’s success is its ability to build and maintain a resilient team. Howard emphasizes the importance of hiring experienced individuals who understand the nuances of government contracts. “We have to hire experienced individuals, and so we look for people that have worked with the Department of Defense,” Howard says. She added that HX5 seeks professionals with “experience in their respective fields like contracting, accounting, and finance, human resources. Because leading a workforce in this industry is very different than leading it in the commercial world.”

Executing it correctly is challenging. It’s crucial to find the right people who possess honesty, integrity, and loyalty and are committed to working with a small company rather than just seeking their next career move. This approach has resulted in a stable workforce, with many employees staying with the company for over a decade.

Navigating Government Bureaucracy

In fiscal year 2023, the government spent $6.13 trillion, primarily funded through tax collection and borrowing. Government spending amounted to approximately $2 out of every $10 worth of goods and services produced in the United States.

The top 10 categories and agencies for federal spending in FY 2024 are Social Security, health, net interest, national defense, Medicare, income security, veterans benefits and services, education/training/ employment/social services, transportation, and commerce and housing credit.

Margarita Howard’s extensive experience in government service has been instrumental in the company’s ability to maneuver through the bureaucratic landscape. She says HX5 frequently faces situations where projects are impacted by changing mission priorities and funding uncertainties, which makes the ability to pivot quickly in response to changes crucial for maintaining operational efficiency.

In mission-critical areas, the company understands they may need to work at risk temporarily, meaning the work has been approved, but the funding may be delayed. “It might be that the funding will be a little late, and we’re paying out of pocket, basically, during that period, but we know that with the work that we do, the delayed funding eventually catches up and we will get reimbursed,” says Margarita Howard. This pragmatic approach ensures that essential operations continue seamlessly despite funding delays.

Margarita Howard Talks Adapting to Regulatory Changes

Frequent changes in federal regulations necessitate a proactive approach to compliance. Margarita Howard says, “We do have to abide by all the regulations such as, the year when Juneteenth was approved as a new federal holiday. Well, we have to take that into consideration because we have to honor all the federal holidays. And so we had to review our accounting system, budgets, revise our policies where needed, etc. in order to incorporate that new federal holiday.”

She says, “So, in all of our respective fields — contracting, accounting, finance, HR, even business development — we look for people that have experience because it’s not easy to know all the federal regulations and how to operate within them, so the more experience they have, the more helpful they’re going to be to us in what we do.”

The company aims to hire and keep employees with specialized industry certifications. This emphasis on certifications ensures that Howard’s team is compliant and highly skilled in their areas of expertise. HX5, headquartered in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, operates in 34 states and 90 government locations, with a workforce of over 1,000 employees.

Embracing Advanced Technologies

The company’s commitment to staying ahead of technological advancements, particularly in artificial intelligence and machine learning, is evident. “We try to stay ahead of those changing technologies, AI and cyber,” Margarita Howard says.

HX5, which develops and uses AI tools internally, already sees benefits from this technology. The firm believes embracing AI is essential for survival in today’s business landscape. Companies that fail to adopt AI will likely fall behind. HX5 is committed to early adoption and significant investment in AI, including the integration of AI into its operations. This strategic investment in AI enhances internal efficiencies and positions HX5 as a forward-thinking partner for their government clients.

Maintaining High Ethical Standards at HX5

One of the most significant challenges HX5 has faced is dealing with unethical competitors. Margarita Howardsays one of the lessons she has learned is that “there are competitors who don’t play by the same ethical rules that we do, and don’t have the same standards that we do, and that they will do anything, absolutely anything, to try to take the work away from you.” This experience has only strengthened HX5’s resolve to maintain high ethical standards and underscores the importance of integrity in HX5’s operational strategies.

A strong company culture is integral to the company’s success and starts at the top. Howard emphasizes the importance of leading by example. “We hold ourselves to the same high standards of performance, integrity, and honesty that we would expect of our employees,” she says.

Margarita Howard acknowledges that having the right team is critical. She takes great pride in HX5’s hands-on approach to team building, which ensures the company attracts and retains individuals who are not only skilled but also aligned with its values.

As HX5 grows and evolves, its focus on building a skilled, ethical, and cohesive team will remain a key pillar of its operational strategy. By staying ahead of technological advancements, navigating the complexities of government bureaucracy, and maintaining high ethical standards, HX5 is well positioned to continue its success in the defense and space sectors.

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