Photo headshot of Karl Williams

Karl Williams

Chief Operating Officer

4 years at Ridgeline

How would you describe your role?

My job involves overseeing the operations of the company, which is kind of broad. But, essentially, it includes our customer delivery; our customer satisfaction; our technical creation and maintenance; our business risk management capability; and the delivery, construction, and management of our courseware. And then, most importantly, I take the feedback that we are constantly receiving from our customers, students, and the US Government, and boil it down to ensure that all those things wind up into a portion of the company’s strategy so that what we are doing today can inform what we need to do in the future.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style is one of mentorship. I am most comfortable in trying to observe the actions of other people and help them fine-tune their approach so they’re more successful in their jobs. At times, I introduce new concepts and new approaches that individuals may never have been exposed to before. And it’s important to do it in a way where I am not giving them the entire solution, because then they don’t learn. Instead, I give them suggestions of how to improve things in scenarios where they are putting their own hands on the controls. In this way, the outcome is owned, created, and curated by the individual, and I get to be the cheerleader.

What’s something new you learned recently?

I’ve learned a LOT about technology in the last four years at this job. I am a trained engineer with degrees in engineering and computer science, but I left that long ago. What I have come to learn in this new evolution of technology is that there are many, many different ways of creating value in the technical space for the customer. And at times, the really hard things are what people shy away from, but Ridgeline gravitates toward them.

In accomplishing and conquering those hard challenges, you get a much deeper response from employees. It’s one thing to do easy engineering things, but to metaphorically split the atom in solving some of the problems we solve, it’s super hard. And you can only do that with the right attitude and the right type of creativity. That’s something I’ve come to learn that we have a great deal of at Ridgeline.

What’s your super power?

X-ray vision! But seriously, I think my super power is having the right combination of patience and impatience. The ability to understand the value of the things Ridgeline provides doesn’t happen overnight. You have to let it percolate and marinate. You can’t cajole the customer into accepting or understanding what you’re offering to them if what you’re offering is solving an issue they perhaps don’t know they have, or doing it in a way that is completely novel. I’ve learned that patience in this area of the technology market is essential. And then, of course, capitalizing on that with impatience at the right time to deliver just what they need when they realize they need it.

What’s something happening at Ridgeline that you’re exited to see grow or develop?

Our target market, in terms of Digital Signature Management, is something that many folks don’t know about. But more and more, as the weeks go by, it becomes more commonplace. I had dinner with an old friend of mine recently who is a senior political figure. I was describing what our company does and he knew in two seconds what I was talking about. I think if I had that conversation a year ago, he would have looked at me across the table in a quizzical manner.

So what am I excited about?

It’s time. The time is right to enter into the market and be more descriptive about what we’re doing as a company in such a way that my dinner partner from the other night will say, “Wow! You guys really have some great solutions and technology to deal with the problems I know I have.” Ridgeline is a first mover in this space, and I think we’ve hit on just the right timing, where the specter of not controlling one’s data or digital signature really is looming over the ability to live life and do one’s job effectively. It’s thrilling that we are able to solve this and our target market recognizes this.

How would you describe Ridgeline’s culture?

I think it’s a really interesting culture where people ideate, innovate, experiment. People here trust each other to ensure that what they’re collectively doing is going to be successful. In many companies, people spend a lot of time trying to prepare for the worst, or to set a culture based on a specific agenda. Ridgeline has a very open culture where we’re collectively trying to move the needle and support each other in our disparate tasks that all reach toward the same ends.

What is unique about Ridgeline?

Ridgeline is a very innovative and high-tech company in an industry that is sometimes antithetical to innovation. This is not to say that the government contracting industry isn’t a fine place to work. But, it is not necessarily a customer set that immediately rewards and supports innovation, so our presence, resilience, and success in this industry is what makes Ridgeline unique.

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