HX5, a notable entity in the government contracting sector, has experienced transformative growth under the watchful eye of CEO/President Margarita Howard, expanding its workforce from one to over 1,000 employees. This growth is not just a numerical increase, but a testament to Howard’s strategic leadership and vision.
Margarita Howard’s story is one of determination and resilience. “I was fortunate to get into pursuing a college education early on, which was always my goal,” says Howard. “Where I grew up, most people did not go to college or have those opportunities. At that time, the school systems did not actively prepare minority students for college and therefore, getting and completing an advanced education was that much more difficult.”
In addition, coming from a background of very limited financial resources, the cost of educational expenses presented a constant struggle, making an advanced education almost out of reach for Howard.
“I started at the University of Texas at El Paso, UTEP, and found quickly that it was very difficult to be putting myself through school due to the expenses inherent in pursuing advanced education,” Howard says. Overcoming these challenges required her to constantly work very long hours and take on student debt. “While attending college I became aware of the job opportunities and educational benefits offered by the military, and so I joined the Air Force.” It was her college and Air Force journey that laid the groundwork for her future endeavors.
Margarita Howard’s Strategic Vision in a Competitive Landscape
Howard’s approach to establishing and growing the business was characterized by strategic foresight. Recognizing the pitfalls of relying only on single-source awards in government contracting, she steered the company toward being a viable competitor from its inception.
“I had that competitive edge or desire. And I knew that I didn’t want HX5 to be dependent on sole-source awards,” she explains.
“We had been in the industry, we knew small businesses in our area, and that’s what many of them did. And once the program was over after nine years, they were done. They had never competed. They had never really done it on their own,” she adds, highlighting her determination to build a company that could sustain and thrive independently.
Throughout her professional career, Howard’s track record of successful performance in leadership positions played a crucial role in shaping her strategic decisions for her company.
The journey of any business owner will always involve industry-specific challenges that must be overcome in order for the company to be successful. It’s important always to be prepared and to stay ahead of the issues. While mistakes are to be expected, it’s critical that the company learns from any mistakes it makes in order to avoid them being repeated, Howard believes.
”For example,” Howard says, “government contracting is laden with rules, regulations, and compliance requirements that can be daunting to new business owners. Businesses must invest in educating themselves about these regulations and ensure strict adherence to them.” She emphasizes that “it’s important that a company’s records are impeccable when working with the government due to the compliance reporting and audits that companies have to agree to in order to perform on government contracts.”
She continues, “Working side-by-side with civil servants and the military, supporting their respective missions is a privilege. I love this business and the work that we do. I’m extremely proud of it.”
Another hurdle is being a woman in a predominantly male industry. Some of the common challenges women face in leadership roles are gender bias and stereotypes, such as women often portrayed as nurturing, emotional, and less assertive than their male counterparts. “I’ve experienced it firsthand, and it does create an additional challenge to prove yourself as an effective and successful leader,” Howard shares. She had to work extra hard to navigate these biases and establish her credibility as a business owner and leader.
She handled these hurdles with efficiency and professionalism, ensuring that the work and the company were always the main focus. Accordingly, she became quite adept at handling different and challenging situations within such environments.
Reflecting on these pitfalls, Howard says, “It’s rewarding to see that women are making significant strides in the government contracting industry over the years, breaking barriers and more often assuming leadership roles in this industry and within government agencies that we work with. It’s still somewhat challenging for women in this industry, and while progress has been made, some biases unfortunately still remain to be overcome.”
Employee Centricity: The Core of HX5’s Success
One of HX5’s notable achievements under Howard is its commitment to diversity, especially in promoting women to leadership roles. “The majority of our management team are women,” Howard proudly states. This emphasis on diversity isn’t merely a policy, but also a reflection of Howard’s belief in the capabilities and potential of women in leadership roles.
“At the end of the day, it’s our great management and leadership team who make us successful,” Howard acknowledges the contribution of her employees to HX5’s growth and success.
She says, “We were very selective of people that we chose for our management team. And really, I could not be more proud of them. Many of them have been with us for 10 years or so, and we just have a highly dedicated, experienced management team. We could not do what we do without them. So I want to give a lot of the credit to our employees.”
As the company continues to evolve, the focus remains on sustaining its growth trajectory while adhering to its core values. Howard’s blend of strategic vision, resilience, and commitment to her team guides the company’s future direction. The story of HX5 under Howard’s leadership is about business growth and setting a precedent in the industry for fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment.
The journey of HX5 to becoming a significant player in government contracting mirrors Margarita Howard’s visionary leadership. Its story, as orchestrated by Howard, serves as a beacon for companies striving for success in competitive landscapes while adhering to values of diversity and inclusion.