NATIONAL ENGINEERS WEEK 2015
AWARDS BANQUET AND SILENT AUCTION
|Carol Craig, Karen Gregory|
On February 26, 2015, lifetime Women In Defense member, Carol Craig, was the guest speaker at the NATIONAL ENGINEERS WEEK 2015 AWARDS BANQUET AND SILENT AUCTION hosted by Space Coast WID, Canaveral Council of Technical Societies (CCTS) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Cape Canaveral Section, and sponsored by United Launch Alliance.
Carol Craig, the Unconventional CEO®, and a lifetime WID member, spoke about how in 1999 she took her one person business startup idea and grew it to nearly 400 associates, becoming one of the most successful Hispanic (Cuban), woman, veteran (Navy) owned companies in United States history through unconventional means and a raw talent for problem solving that she had developed in the beginning of her engineering career.
“Even a blind squirrel finds a nut.”
After landing her first job from the University of Illinois analyzing COBOL code, Ms. Craig found herself managing Navy fighter pilots in a consulting role similar to Charlie in the movie “Top Gun”. Believing she could do the job as well as the aviators who were benefitting from her consulting, she volunteered to become a commissioned Naval Flight Officer for the United States government. During combat training for P.O.W. survival school, she suffered an injury just a few months after receiving her Navy wings. It was during that time that she met her husband John. After surgery for her injury proved unsuccessful in returning her to combat flight duty, Ms. Craig made the hard decision to transition out of the Navy and found her way back to her consulting roots as a civilian GS engineering contractor.
She and John started a family and it was at that time that Ms. Craig landed a contract with AmeriGroup Corporation where she was tasked with reverse engineering COBOL code for their Initial Public Offering (IPO). The workflow was strong and steady. Never wanting to decline new work or to say no to a challenge, Carol Craig decided to start a company, Craig Technical Consulting, Inc., which later became Craig Technologies. Ms. Craig had so much work that she started to hire Navy wives that had once been in situations similar to her own. Ms. Craig knew she could identify talent and train the new recruits. Some of those Navy wives that were originally hired at the company’s inception in 1999 continue to work for her today.
“Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail.”
Carol Craig identified and sought out the advantages of contractual government set asides. In her particular case, she was a service-disabled veteran and Hispanic woman. She also discovered that the area where her parents lived was designated a HUBZone or a “Historically Underutilized Business” Zone. Ms. Craig combined her engineering credentials and her talent for problem solving to obtain as many government certifications that she could qualify for. She then broke with conventional wisdom and hired her friends and family. Ms. Craig’s parents are both 84 years old today and still help in the business with accounting. “She (Carol Craig’s mother) claims that I’m the reason she’s still alive, because I’ve given her something to wake up to every morning, be excited about and that she can focus on (in addition to all her other ‘retired’ activities),” said Carol Craig. Carol has done everything you’re ‘not supposed to do’ and that’s been one of the keys to her success.
Carol Craig’s business model for becoming a successful leader in the community:
1. Don’t be afraid to break the rules.
2. Be prepared and have the courage to maneuver around career obstacles.
3. When one door closes, another door opens.
4. Embrace new opportunities.
5. Develop your skills into a marketable talent – (e.g. Carol Craig’s engineering background). Ms. Craig’s confidence grew from knowing that she was really good at business because she had a natural talent for solving problems that hearkened back to her roots as an engineering student. It was this ability that allowed her company to grow to the success it has today.
6. Have an important mission and follow it.
7. Love what you are doing.
8. Do something important in your life.
9. Don’t give up regardless of how difficult.
1 Embrace the love and encouragement coming from your friends and family
Young Victoria Richmond Express's How Carol Craig Inspired her
."Hearing Carol Craig speak today was an inspiration and resonated with my own experiences as a female engineer. It is not often that you hear a person speak so openly about their background and it was a privilege to hear about Ms. Craig's journey from computer engineering to the Navy and on to entrepreneurship. She really demonstrates that you don't have to fit into some preconceived notion of what an engineer or a female engineer "should" be and that you can create your own opportunities. As a female with a PhD in aerospace engineering and also a military wife, like Ms. Craig, I am determined to make an impact and am inspired to define what my future will be."
Alexander Penalta, Esquire
Penalta & Stiger P.A.
VP Trent Realty