Tommy Volk

Executive VP of Product & Client Delivery

9 years at Ridgeline

How would you describe your role?

I head up the Products & Client Delivery Organization, and what we’re really focused on is understanding and aligning our capabilities with our customers’ needs and expectations. Through my years of working within our customers, I’ve been able to build trust and rapport with key leaders across the Intelligence Community, in the Department of Defense, and with some Federal Law Enforcement organizations, and have come to understand their requirements and gaps, especially in the technical realm. By understanding those to a high degree, and then in parallel, understanding what our team’s capabilities are, I’m able to drive the direction of our customer relations and technology delivery.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I think the leadership style that I work towards is really enabling others. Where I’ve been strongest is understanding our customers’ mission and IT requirements and where the gaps are in their capabilities. I’m very humbled, sincerely, by all of my teammates and have worked hard to surround myself with people who are more capable than me in many ways. And so, I think of myself as more of a coach – being able to understand the strengths of each teammate and positioning them where they can have maximum effect for what we’re doing

How would you describe Ridgeline’s culture?

Our culture has evolved over the past nine years. In the beginning, we were a classic startup, which is fun and exciting, but also scary at the same time. It was a bit like a pirate ship where you have a whole bunch of capable people thrown together, and we took a team approach to getting things done. Some people thrive in those types of environments, but it’s not for everyone and it’s not a sustainable environment to grow a business for the long term. I think we have now evolved to a good hybrid culture where we still promote innovation, and people feel that they have freedom of movement to be creative and get things done. But, we have added more rigor and process to our approach. We’re dialed in now, using proven methodologies such as the Scaled Agile Framework to set our op tempo and ensure we’re hitting our marks and meeting our objectives.

What’s your superpower?

I’d like to think that my superpower is being able to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand at least where they might be coming from and be able to empathize with their position. This applies to our customers, but also my teammates. I use this to pull together a team that is able to work and thrive together to ultimately deliver the end result and hit the goal that we’ve set.

What’s something new you’ve learned recently?

My wife and I think of ourselves as DIY’ers, and we are continuously working on home projects together. My wife does not know a ton about the specifics of construction, such as the vernacular or techniques, but when I am building something, she is not shy to give me advice for how to do it. And what I have learned is that even if my wife doesn’t know exactly how things traditionally go together or what the materials or tools are called, sometimes she sees things that I am not aware of. And I’ve learned that if I pause to take in what she’s saying, it will save me work in the long run.

What’s something happening at Ridgeline right now that you’re excited to see grow and develop?

I think the recent reorganization within Ridgeline that created the Products & Client Delivery Organization is very exciting because of the potential impact it has for our customers. Now, we have program managers and forward deployed engineers working side by side, managing customer relationships in a holistic way. Not only are we gathering requirements and delivering courseware, but also integrating our products forward with our customer at domestic and OCONUS locations, building out the training manuals, and aligning what we’re delivering with our NOC services. This structure ensures that at every touchpoint with our people and our technology, our customers have a seamless experience when working with Ridgeline.

Can you tell us about a time when you were impressed or inspired by another Ridgeliner’s work?

It really is amazing to see what the folks at Ridgeline are capable of – from people working Logistics, Administration, Security, Finance, to Program Managers, Engineers, our Forward Deployed Engineers – everyone continues to innovate. Hopefully that’s a reflection of the culture that we’ve built and are continuing to evolve here, where people feel empowered to push the envelope, bring in new ideas, further refine what we’re delivering to our customers.

What’s unique about Ridgeline?

I think the most unique thing about Ridgeline is we are really paving the path. We are spearheading the market that we helped create nine years ago when we had the idea to build technology and provide consulting and training services to enable people to understand what they look like in the data, be able to control the data that they’re putting out into the world, and be able to shape that data and tell a story that’s appropriate for their mission. No one else was doing it. What’s interesting today is that across our customer sets, people are aware of this need. They have created task forces, offices, have dedicated funding streams, in order to invest in training and technology to understand, control, and shape their signatures. We drove that and we continue to support customers where they have gaps. That is extremely unique.

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