Dr. Mary M. Gillam: From Air Force Colonel To Successful Business Owner

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Air ForceTo say Dr. Mary M. Gillam has had a diverse career would be an understatement. Gilliam is a retired Air Force Colonel after spending nearly 30 years in the military; a former senior executive with the Department of Defense (DoD), where she served as the Director of Technology, Innovation, and Engineering; an Amazon #1 best-selling author; and founder of tech consulting and management company M2G Dynamic Leadership Solutions, LLC.

After leaving the military, Dr. Gillam retained her ties. She worked in private industry as a government contractor supporting the Air Force Chief Information Officer (CIO). She also spent three tours in the Pentagon to include assignments at the Joint Staff Directorate of Intelligence (J2), where she was deployed in support of the Embassy in Turkey.  On top of this, Dr. Gillam worked for the Secretary Air Force Inspector General. And while on staff at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, she worked for the DoD Comproller, and the DoD CIO, who also served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks, Information and Integration (ASD/NII). While on assignment in Germany, she served as a Congressional and Legislative Affairs Specialist, and as a Political-Military Affairs Officer specializing in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Gillam, who holds a BS in Chemistry from NC A&T State University and three masters’ degrees from Webster University, wrote the Amazon best sellers, 14 Jewels of Dynamic Leadership and 31 Gems of Poetic Praise.  Then her book, Women Stop the Chase: Let God’s Man Find You (Proverbs 18:22), went to #1 on the Amazon Best Seller’s List. 

TNJ.com: What led you to a career in the military?
Dr. Mary M. Gillam: What led me to a career in the military was my desire to serve my country. After graduating from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC, with a degree in chemistry, I was commissioned into the Air Force. Having a strong science and computer technology background enabled me to advance in my career field which resulted in continuous promotions. Given the fact that less than two percent of females make Colonel, I was grateful to God to achieve this rank.

TNJ.com: What were some of the challenges of the transition from the military to being a business owner?
MG: There were many challenges. However, I would like to highlight two of them: a) First, I had to embrace a business development mindset versus a military-oriented mentality. I spent over 28 years in the military; which was all I knew. However, if I fail to seek out new business opportunities, then my business will not succeed. b) Second, I had to acknowledge the income disparity that I would face as a new business owner. While serving in the military, my paycheck was consistent. Yet, as a new business owner, until I build my client base, the business income may often fluctuate.

TNJ.com: What led you to launch M2G Dynamic Leadership Solutions, LLC?

MG: Business ownership has always been a life-long goal of mine. Having the opportunity to leverage my information technology and leadership development experience into a consulting business venture was the next step for me. By taking advantage of the Count Me In and Women Veteran Entrepreneurial Corp (WVEC) Program sponsored by Capitol One and others, I was able to start the company.

TNJ.com:  There are many discouraging stats about veterans. What are some of the factors that helped you to develop a successful company?
MG: Although there are many factors, I would like to discuss two: a) Investing time in learning the dynamics of business ownership. Although I have a Ph.D in Management with a concentration in Information Systems Technology, I was not versed in business. To achieve a degree of success, I had to invest the time, energy, and effort to study, specifically, business ownership. b) Networking with the right team. As part of the WVEC, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with a team of successful women veterans and military spouses focused on business ownership. We encourage, inspire, and provide each other with a tremendous support structure.

TNJ.com: Have there been any particular obstacles for you in being a woman, a Black woman and/or a veteran?
MG: Presently, I have not encountered any specific obstacles that have hindered my performance as a business owner. Having several seasoned and experienced business leaders as mentors, I have utilized their expertise to successfully develop my business. Additionally, I have continuously utilized the resources of the Small Business Administration to better plan and manage my resources.

TNJ.com: What are your goals for this year for M2G Dynamic Leadership Solutions, LLC.?
MG: The primary goals of the company for this year are to (1) expand the company’s profile, (2) increase the company’s budget, and (3) employ additional staff by 50 percent by FY2014.

TNJ.com: What are your long-term goals?

MG: a) Expand the company’s product/service line in order to grow our customer base; b) Build a company capable of employing many veterans and others seeking part/full-time employment; and c) Build a company culture that promotes innovation and thought generation leaders.

TNJ.com: What career advice would you pass on to other small business owners?
MG: The best advice that I can give to other small business owners is to never compromise your personal integrity or that of your organization. Be a person of ethical behavior and establish that culture within your organization. In business, your reputation will proceed you. Companies want to partner with people and organizations with core values that emulate their own. For many organizations, integrity will always be a major core value.