November's featured IEM alumnus is Robert Pedigo, Command Housing Privatization Manager for Booz Allen Hamilton in Honolulu, Hawaii. In his role at BAH, Robert has responsibility for managing all aspects of housing privatization for USAF MAJCOM HQ staff; advising bases and MAJCOM staff on policy changes, reviewing the privatization program within the Command, creating staff packages promulgating policy and addressing specific privatization issues, participating in source selections for PACAF base housing privatization contract awards, and coordinating with bases and HQ Air Force.
While not currently working in a technology related field Robert’s life was still profoundly impacted by his experiences in the IEM program. We had the pleasure of interviewing him this month, via e-mail.
IEM: What attracted you to the IEM program? (You were in the first class right?)
Robert Pedigo (RP): (Yes, I was in the first cohort: 2000-2002)
At the time, I was working as an IT consultant for an international firm with an office in Birmingham. With a background in electrical engineering, I felt I had a firm engineering basis for IEM, but I needed more information technology-related knowledge to be more effective at my job. I didn't realize at the time how much of the curriculum would be devoted to entrepreneurship, but this turned out to be the most valuable part of the program for me.
Also, the schedule was ideal for a working professional, and that attracted me to the program as well.
IEM: How do you feel going through the program changes your outlook?
RP: Learning the "entrepreneurial attitude" really shakes up a traditional professional's viewpoint. After learning about the market and how to research it, writing a business plan, and presenting that plan to real venture capitalists, I realized that I can start a business myself. I'm not destined to try to grow up in a traditional firm, always striving for senior management positions and maybe one day becoming a CEO. I can be a CEO right now, in a company built with my own two hands. Even though I'm still employed in a traditional consulting firm, I keep looking for that one great idea from which I can grow a business of my own. In the meantime, I continue to hone my skills in business development, marketing, and consulting so that when I do take that leap, I have the confidence to do it right.
IEM: What prompted the move to Hawaii and moving away from the IT field?
RP: After the dot.com bubble burst, IT jobs became scarce in the Birmingham market for a while. My firm laid off thousands of employees, including me, and they eventually got bought by a rival. In the immediate aftermath of this chaos, I fell back on my engineering background to find a job that uniquely combined my engineering and consulting skills. While the work I do now doesn't involve information technology, per se, the skills and knowledge I built in the IEM program have come back to benefit my work in many ways. For example, I seem to have developed a keen eye for business trends, stemming from the market research we did in IEM. I also tend to have a knack for developing out-of-the-box solutions that my military clients don't seem capable of, because of their very focused training on purely military solution sets. And on the corporate side, my experience writing business plans has allowed me a good measure of success in turning opportunities into funded contracts.
Why did I take an assignment to Hawaii? Why not???