Why Deliberate Growth Works for QTEC Aerospace with Carol Daniel

Deliberate growth may seem obvious to all leaders, but many are not willing to put in the work it takes for it to happen. Today’s guest is Carol Daniel, President at QTEC Aerospace. Inc Magazine ranked her company #4880 on the 2021 Inc 5000 list. QTEC provides an in-depth understanding of engineering, project management, engineering analysis, and operations/logistics – across life cycles and domains. Carol gives us her insights on deliberate growth and the strategies that have impacted her company. Discover what it takes to lead deliberate growth.

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Carol Daniel: The Transcript

About: Ms. Daniel (Carol) is a native of North Alabama. She is a Systems Engineer with over 30 years of experience in the Missile Defense domain. In 1985, Ms. Daniel joined a team of engineers working on what was to become the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) Program. This team developed an early simulation that was used to prove President Reagan’s Star Wars vision could become a reality. Ms. Daniel participated in early study programs which defined and demonstrated the application of Model-based Systems Engineering (MBSE) processes and techniques to information-intensive, distributed missile defense systems. In doing so, she established herself as a leader in the practical application of MBSE methods to system engineering and development. Recognized as an integrator of methods and artifacts across the engineering and development lifecycle, Ms. Daniel has held numerous programmatic and technical leadership roles.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

Carol Daniel: [00:00:00] Being deliberate means maintaining the culture, the gym beverage, and Kathy brought established when I started this company years ago. And that means staying true to our name, which has a significant meaning. It means providing an environment where employees want to stay here and be a part of our culture. And it also means keeping our customers happy to be mission-focused on what it is that makes them successful as well. So deliberate. It means choosing work, not just picking any work, and very deliberate in how we choose our customers, our partners, and our employees to give one of our teams

Intro: Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs, the fastest growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments. Of their growth. Are you ready to grow? Growing your company takes a lot of things working, right?

Gene Hammett: You’ve got to have a right strategy. You’ve gotta have the right business [00:01:00] model. You’ve got to have the right timing. You’re gonna have the right people. So why don’t we going to talk about growth today? Because everyone listened to podcast wants to grow their business. They want to grow as individuals. Today, we look at deliberate growth. What are the core aspects of being deliberate? What that really means inside of this. And our special guest is the CEO of Q tech aerospace and Carol Daniel. And I talk about deliberate growth. Carol has some really interesting views on what does it take to grow a company? One of the things is choosing the right customers when you choose the right customers. A lot of things get easier. Most people believe that they take any customer who has the money, but the right thing is. When your company’s mature, you want to make sure you are choosing the right customer because the wrong customers are a pain in the butt, if they will, or, but also they’re just not the right fit for the organization, the culture, the people, the problems you want to solve, you want to be deliberate in your growth.

You want to make sure you’re starting with your customers, but this also means your employees who want to deliberately hire the right [00:02:00] people deliberately develop them in the right way, but you also want to create kind of deliberate. All of those things are unpacked and today’s episode with Carol. And before you go into this, I’d love to just say this directly. If you are a leader who wants to level up, I want to help you take it to that next level. You don’t even know what’s getting in your way. If you did, you would already address it. Every one of us has blind spots. Every one of us has a little area that we think is the truth or the right way. That’s keeping us stuck. And once you realize that those things have to be shifted or let go, then you can actually grow your company with ease and grace. I do this all the time as an executive coach, I want to help you grow your business. Where does it start? Well, it’s just a conversation. Get to know each other. I want to ask you one key question. What’s going on or what do you want to fix? That’s not working right now. And if we talked about that for an hour, what impacts and insights would you have? I know from experience, it’d be powerful. All you have to do is go to GeneHammett.com and schedule a call. I want to serve you to the highest level, to be the best leader you [00:03:00] can be to help you create the right kind of growth strategies for your own business. Let’s figure it out what that is create a plan. If you want to work with me. Great. We can talk about that at the end of the call, or you can actually carry out the plan and go see how it works without me. Perfectly fine. I just want to give, make sure you get a GeneHammett.com and schedule a call. , here’s the interview with Carol.

Gene Hammett: Hi, Carol. How are you?

Carol Daniel: Good morning, Gene, Great!

Gene Hammett: I’m excited to talk to you about, you know, deliberate growth. But before we get there, let’s talk about your company. Tell us about QTEC aerospace.

Carol Daniel: Certainly I’m happy to, QTEC Aerospace’s a 23-year-old aerospace startup here in the Huntsville Alabama area. we’re predominantly a missile defense house but we also have some very important work supporting NASA. , the aviation community and other strategic partners in the FBI, et cetera, here in Huntsville,

Gene Hammett: It’s got to be some exciting work. I usually ask where things are going, but I don’t want to get into the top secret stuff that you guys can’t talk about. So [00:04:00] tell me a little bit about just where you see the market that you have for your company going in the next few years?

Carol Daniel: Well, I think there’s, there’s plenty of work here in Huntsville and other areas. We’re expanding, even looking at Colorado Springs as our, our first remote site for the company. And we’re looking at the FBI growth and the aerospace growth and, and our aviation work. We see lots of opportunities in all the areas, which we’re presuming and of course, cyber security is on the mind. Lots of thoughts. That’s included.

Gene Hammett: Carol, we came here to talk about being deliberate inside of your growth and your strategies to move forward. It really is an important piece to, to who your company is. , what does being deliberate really mean to you and your company?

Carol Daniel: That’s very important gene and how how we run our company. , being deliberate means maintaining the culture that Jim beverage and Kathy brought established. When I started this company years ago. And that means staying true to our name, which has [00:05:00] significant meaning. It means providing an environment where employees want to stay here and be a part of our culture. And it also means keeping our customers happy, being mission-focused on what it is that makes them successful as well. So deliberate means it means choosing work, not just picking any work, being very deliberate in how we choose our customers, our partners in our employees.

Gene Hammett: I was having a conversation with a client today about being deliberate and the clients. And I know in certain stages and a lot of companies go well, early on, we just take who we can get. Cause we’re chill trying to figure it out. You guys have been around for 23 years, as you said.  what is the benefit across the organization of really being able to be choosy with your customers? , what have you seen is that real benefit.

Carol Daniel: I think having like-minded customers and employees contributes to to the success and retention of our, of our team because our guys want to solve the hard problems. So [00:06:00] they’re looking for those kinds of challenges every day. , and it, it makes us align with our customers. We’re focused on their successes. We’re always a part of their solutions, never part of their problems. So I think that’s the value that it brings to the companies continuing growth and success.

Gene Hammett: I want to dive a little deeper with this with you because I think it’s really interesting, but you said something that I want to make sure we put a spotlight on, which is your name stands for something. It means something in the beginning. It still means something you want to maintain that. So walk us through what the company, what the name really means.

Carol Daniel: I’m happy to do that gene. So QTEC is an acronym. It stands for quality timeliness. Efficiency and courtesy, and those are the characteristics by which we do everything we do, right? We are focused on quality products and services for our customers and quality and how we conduct our business infrastructure here in the business office. Timeliness, you get a solution, so good for you if you get it too late. Right. , and responsiveness of course, is [00:07:00] included in that efficiency. , we’re trying to be small and streamlined and avoid bureaucracy and of course, courtesy also means respecting those around you. As we do our day to day work,

Gene Hammett: I am kind of curious. Is this where the name started or is it something that was changed based on how you guys really saw the organization for me?

Carol Daniel: it’s exactly how the company, how the name started. When, when Jim envisioned the company in the very early days, this was the basis for his company.

Gene Hammett: Would you say these are similar to the company’s core values? Or is it something different?

Carol Daniel: No, very similar to our core values and they guide us in decision-making and pretty much everything that we do,

Gene Hammett: you know, this whole conversation on core values is something really special to me and anyone who’s listening in. Who’s listened to do more than a few episodes. It’s probably heard us talking about values. What would we see across your organization? Inside of meetings or inside of conversations where values are not just something that you may be put on the [00:08:00] wall, but actually a part of who you are, how you live them, what would we see across the organization?

Carol Daniel: I think what you see inside Q tech aerospace is a management philosophy where management works for the employer. And takes that responsibility extremely seriously. And so decisions we make we make for the good of the employees, obviously, we’ve got to keep the company moving in the right direction and maintain the business afloat and take care of our customers as well. But we’ve won. If we take care of our employees, we take care of our customers. So a focus on listening to the employees. , focus on doing what we can to reinforce how much we appreciate them. , always making them feel like we’re here working for them, I think is key.

Gene Hammett: Is there any specific way you use values? And let me frame this with I’m writing a book on values, and I think there are at least a dozen touchpoints at which companies can leverage. Values, for example, one of them might be selecting [00:09:00] employees, right? When we put a job description out there, we want to make sure we’re only interviewing. And then hiring would be a second piece to behind that people that are aligned with our values are readily. Is there a specific touch point that you think is really important. to help you guys maintain the culture?

Carol Daniel: It’s hard to put it, it just boil it down to one thing. Cause it’s everything we do all day long. , every decision that we make has to do with believing that we are where we are through hard work, integrity, and. Above-average technical performance and just maintain that as we move forward. So I don’t think I can put, boil it down to just one.

Gene Hammett: Well, I wanted to see if I could pull out some gems for you, but I do get it when people live it it just becomes a part of who they are. And that’s kinda what you’re saying to us. So thanks Carol for letting me go down that road. As I’m doing research in that next book, let’s go back to this whole being deliberate. Right? We talked about being delivered for customers. The benefit that has. And, and also you mentioned being [00:10:00] deliberate in your employees. What does that mean when you guys go into the hiring process?

Carol Daniel: Well, it means that we’re very upfront, with our candidate employees about how we run the business in terms of what the expectations are. We try to be very transparent. There’s two to to the bars high. And let them know right from the beginning that we’re very careful and we’re very protective of our culture. We’re very careful how we bring people into it because we value it in protecting you against harm. Right. So first right off the bat, our initial conversation with candidates has to do with, with that. , we hire a lot of people who are. Are like-minded and know each other from one walk of life or another. So that, that you bring in people that, you know, and respect. , and that’s a benefit of a small company, right. That you can, you can do that. , and then as we move through, even after someone’s been brought on board we’re deliberate in again, managing their expectations feedback, [00:11:00] if there’s anything that doesn’t quite seem to be jelling checking with our customers to make sure they’re getting what they need and just making sure.

Find any problem areas that need to be corrected. And we even maintain a, a risk in our, in our management leadership team, we are very deliberate in our risk management process. We’ll be at risk that of hiring someone that doesn’t fit the culture that we examine monthly in our management. To say, are there any issues we should bring forward? And we need to work on here and that’s not to say we wouldn’t work to help people move in the right direction. It’s not just about kicking people off the team. It’s about just making sure we communicate in our finding good fits both directions. ,

Commentary: Carol just talked about transparency. Now, one of the things that people let get in their way of transparency is they’re not giving enough feedback. And what I want you to really think about here is if you’re avoiding any kind of feedback or conversations for the employees, You know, there’s, there’s someone out there that’s not meeting expectations that is rubbing you the wrong way. There’s a little bit more friction than you want to be inside of that [00:12:00] relationship. I’m going to encourage you to have a difficult conversation, but not, I don’t call it difficult cause it should be difficult. I want you to shift your energy around this. Yeah. I think about it as an opportunity for conversation and truly being transparent, giving them the feedback that they need to be able to be better at their job, be a better employee or better team members, whatever is getting in the way, addressing that. And if you’re not ready for that, then we need to have a chat. I’m not trying to pitch you on, you know, and every moment here, but if you’re avoiding any conversation, there’s a reason behind it. And you need to understand what that reason is. And I can help you with that blockage. And go back to the interview with Carol and she’ll share with you more about how to create deliberate growth in your company back to Carol.

Gene Hammett: Oh, excellent advice. I want to spend the rest of the time we have together. Carol is looking at culture because this is a very hot topic with people that have behind the scenes. They’re always concerned is their company grows. Your company’s been around for a lot of years. You’ve had, you know, had a lot of, of impact in your [00:13:00] clients, in your community, but how are you maintaining the culture that really keeps the company moving and aligning together? I know there’s been some things you’ve learned about it. Maybe it made some mistakes, but what are the things that we could look at it, how you maintain culture.

Carol Daniel: Well, to be completely honest, Gene, I’m a little bit of , mechanical person. , I know that I do things best when I recognize that. And so there’s some traditions in the company that we work on maintaining and then adding to those as opportunities present themselves. So we do things very deliberately, like you know, employee communications. , employees get together quarterly, something as simple as quarterly, we call them birthday lunches. But what that really is about is sharing overview of where we are the company, but celebrating individuals, right. , reinforce that family environment. So people are, are together in an environment where they can bring up with leadership, any issues, very clearly open door, because you feel comfortable with those people. So you know, the normal kind of things like holiday gatherings that, that. [00:14:00] Do as an organization, Thanksgiving lunch, those kinds of things.

And then recently, you know, through this pandemic, it’s certainly been an opportunity to, to look for outside the box to keep that culture going right. We’ve done zoom, and Christmas parties. We’ve done drive by you know, Christmas events. Cause we generally had at least two every year related to. And so I really think it’s the togetherness and the communication of the company that allows us to maintain that culture so that every one there’s not a lot of bureaucracy and tears in the organization. Right. I try to, to know every person same, and certainly Jimmy, Cathy always did know every person’s name and, and make sure there was an open door policy. So that you felt like there are lots of people in your corner and if anyone ever needed anything, we also go to bat for our employees, with customers, cause sometimes situations can be misunderstood and we’re always there to resolve it. So the customer is happy, but also to, to support our,

Gene Hammett: so these are all pretty [00:15:00] traditional kind of things and I know you said that your mechanical and traditional, and I’ve got an engineering background, so I can appreciate that. I’m kind of curious specifically around. How is it evolving? Because as, as companies get bigger, one thing that evolves is communication, right? When you were a handful of people, it’s very easy to communicate when you get to be 20 or 30 people, it’s a little bit harder, but still manageable when you get to be a hundred people, something like communication begins to break down. If you did it like you used to. So what are, what are the places where you guys have really evolved through your culture?

Carol Daniel: That’s a good question. So, in addition to the. , company-wide things that, that I mentioned, of course, we’re organized as all organizations into sectors or groups and we’ve, we’ve begun having sector only kind of events also. So that gives you a smaller organization, a smaller part of the group to get together. And then for example, I’m not participating in that because that’s a way to, again, keep. The small environment, small group communication going. And frankly, sometimes [00:16:00] having more events, something so casual as, you know, drop by four.

We’re going to grill out on for Friday at lunch, outside of the building and that, and it’s not one of those things where everybody feels an obligation to come at all, but anybody can and will do that or do that at the slightest celebration of awards, for example, so that those who can break away from the office can do that. So again, More opportunities to get together and smaller groups to do that. But Gene, I think the bottom line of all that is communication, different ways to communicate. Right?

Gene Hammett: Well, those are good ways of doing it. I want to switch gears one final moment. As we wrap up today. All leaders have had to evolve. You know, I’ve run companies before I had to evolve in order to keep up with the pace of company or wealth or else I’m the bottleneck. I know that you’ve probably evolved through this process of being the CEO of this company. Can you remember one specific inflection point where you realized that you evolved as a leader that we can kind of tune into?

Carol Daniel: Well, I’ll share one. [00:17:00] That’s actually rather recent, you know, Always been a member, a student of the philosophy that we’re in charge of John ups, I think. And I always felt like I worked for everyone in my team. No matter from the first team I managed, it was myself and five people to now. And that was brought home in a big kind of way through this pandemic. Right. Because. It became much more difficult to be that person who was taking care of everybody on from the front of safety, you know, as a small company, it’s interesting dynamics we have here. , we actually sit co-located with many of our large aerospace prom customers, because if the kind of work our team likes to do. So instead of having everyone at tech under one roof, we actually had were distributed to about eight geographic offices here in Huntsville area. So to manage the safety of eight different facilities or coordinate with our, our primes there from a safety of the employee point of view, to trying to figure out how to keep the customer.

Customer’s mission and jobs moving [00:18:00] forward in that environment, especially in the early days. And then on top of that, the worry of, are we going to keep this business afloat or not? Because as you mentioned earlier you know, a lot of our work is not something that can be done at home. And so it forced our employees into harm’s way differently than other industries. And so gene, that evolution was the hardest one I’ve ever gone. To try to worry about those three fronts at once and make sure that I was again, taking care of the employee, taking care of the customers and taking care of the business all at once. And it’s forced me to delegate a lot more than I delegated before.  And we’re still working through some of that. , it’s the stretching, the most I’ve ever been stretched as, as a manager. Let me share that, but I’m happy to say that. Hopefully we’re on the other side of that. Not not sure what the lessons learned for other managers are from that. Just recognize. Yeah, that was a tough spot.

Gene Hammett: I want to ask you one more question, Carol, and this might be a little bit personal and you can deflect it if you want to. And because I know that you’re [00:19:00] graceful in doing that, but you’ve put a lot of worry on others. What you just talked about, external worry inside of your role, but have you thought about taking care of yourself and being able to really maintain your own energy and re create a clear mind for you as you go and have to make difficult decisions and whatnot? Are you, are you putting yourself. In a way to take care of your own mental health.

Carol Daniel: That’s an extremely challenging objective. It’s on my list a lot. And I will share with you is Jim and Kathy have now moved to the board of directors. That’s probably the thing that Jim reminds me of most often in his email. What have you done for yourself today? , you know, yes. I, I try to do some of those kinds of things. You know, the, everybody does the same thing. Take a little time for yourself. You exercise, you try to be healthier. It’s that’s a challenge of small business leaders of any leader. Probably do I do it as well as I should know.

Gene Hammett: I appreciate

Carol Daniel: it’s a growing opportunity.

Commentary: Now, Carol just talked about the mental health of a CEO and she could do a better job. Now [00:20:00] here’s the reality. We could all do a better job taking care of ourselves. There’s one thing I want you to really think about that is your energy management. Are you bringing full energy to the moments that mean the most in your life? This means the moments at work. This means the moments at home. Are you just exhausted? Are you mentally tired? And so you’re not able to show up fully. I know there’s been cycles in my life where I haven’t shown up fully, but when I’m more intentional about my own internal. And how I show up. I’m better in all parts of my life. And I know you will be too. I say this to you and share with it. Just being honest, you gotta be able to take time for yourself. That means doing whatever, you know, gives you energy, removing the things that take away from energy, but also bringing energy to the people in your life. That means the most back to Carol.

Gene Hammett: Well, fantastic to talk to you about what you’re doing there at QTEC aerospace and how it all comes together. Appreciate your, your wisdom and insight here

Carol Daniel: Thanks Gene, It’s great talking to you

Gene Hammett: wow. What a great interview love Carol talking about deliberate [00:21:00] growth, especially starting with customers. You want to make sure you are selecting the right customers for your company because if you select the wrong customers, it makes it harder to serve them and give them value. It also makes it more difficult to retain your employees because they’re not working on the right kinds of things. Deliberate growth touches a lot of places in the organization. And hopefully, you got a lot out of today’s episode. My job is to help you be the best leader you can be. If you really want to take it to the next level you want to play with the big boys or you wanna play with the big girls.

And I say this just jokingly, then you’re going to figure out what’s getting in your way. Let’s have a talk about your business, and your leadership. Let’s figure out what’s getting in the way. Just go to GeneHammett.com and schedule your call. We’ll talk about it. You’ll get a plan. I’ll help you. Everyone will be happy. It’s absolutely free. When you think of growth and you think of leadership. Think of Growth Think Tank as always lead with courage we’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.




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