The Evolution of HX5: Margarita Howard’s Transformative Leadership Approach


Under the transformative leadership of Margarita Howard, HX5 has emerged as a formidable competitor in providing professional mission support services to the U.S. military. Howard founded the firm in 2004, and her strategic foresight and commitment to excellence have evolved the company into a highly successful professional services provider to various agencies of the federal government. “I had that competitive edge or desire. And I knew that I didn’t want HX5 to be dependent on sole-source awards,” she says.

Military contracting involves procuring goods, services, and technologies essential for national defense and armed forces operations. Margarita Howard is the sole owner and CEO/president of HX5, which specializes in providing professional mission support services to the military in a variety of areas including research and development, engineering, and information technology, to name just a few. The company’s dedication to supporting federal government activities has established it as a trusted partner in the defense sector.

The company’s project portfolio underscores its capability and versatility in addressing the complex needs of military operations. It has successfully undertaken tasks that contribute to national defense and security, from supporting the development of aeronautics technologies to providing technical support and engineering solutions. The company’s ability to deliver high-quality, mission-critical services across various domains exemplifies Howard’s leadership and the collective expertise of the HX5 team.

Margarita Howard’s Strategies for Growing HX5

Howard shares that fiscal responsibility was one of the most crucial company growth strategies. “While that may sound simplistic, in reality, it ultimately includes virtually every decision that has to be made, from when and what type of purchases and investments should be made to what types of competitive risks to take, when to staff up or staff down, to what opportunities should be pursued and which ones abandoned,” she explains. “Building a team of professionals who are highly skilled in understanding the importance of fiscally responsible decision-making is absolutely critical for any business owner.”

Howard adds, “For example, very early on we invested in a government accounting system that was government-approved. This is what they used to bill the government. So, that was also very attractive to large businesses. We were very small at the time and already had the government accounting system in place that those large businesses had.”

Additionally, Margarita Howard never stops learning. She shares, “Always ensure that you always remain aware of the latest technology trends that can affect your business and be ready to change and adapt to them as needed.” She’s especially interested in the possibilities of artificial intelligence, noting, “The recent growth of artificial intelligence is certainly something that is exciting to see and think about, but while recognizing and appreciating the immense power and potential of AI, it’s equally important that we always remain cognizant of the potential dangers it may present and how it could be used to impact our business, for the better or worse.”

Howard points out, “Government contracting is laden with rules, regulations, and compliance requirements that can be daunting to new business owners. Businesses must invest in educating themselves about these regulations and ensure strict adherence to them. It’s important that a company’s records are impeccable when working with the government, due to the compliance reporting and audits that companies have to agree to in order to perform on government contracts.”

She couldn’t do it without Microsoft Office. She says the software “provides me the most benefit in being productive. It allows me to manage my schedules, my contacts, my emails, team meetings, and tasks, and it has a number of other support components I utilize on a daily basis.”

Women in Military Contracting

Like many people who need a boost when starting out, Margarita Howard joined the armed forces. She says, “While attending college, I became aware of the job opportunities and educational benefits offered by the military, and so I joined the Air Force.” Her experiences in college and the Air Force served as a solid foundation for her later achievements.

She’s in good company. Women’s participation in the military and defense contracting sectors has gradually increased, yet challenges remain. Over the decades, women’s representation has seen slight improvements in the broader defense industry. For instance, Lockheed Martin’s workforce was 16% female in 1976, increasing to 23% by 2022. Despite women constituting 46.8% of the United States labor force, top defense contractors still have less than 25% women on staff. This disparity underscores the need for continued efforts to enhance diversity and inclusivity within the sector.

Howard is doing her part to even the playing field. “The majority of our management team are women,” she says.

The veteran population is also evolving, with women representing a growing segment. Women are the fastest-growing group in the veteran population. More than 2 million female veterans live in the United States, and their numbers are expected to rise significantly by 2040. This shift highlights the increasing role of women in military and defense-related fields, including contracting.

In a field predominantly occupied by men, Margarita Howard had to put in extra effort to overcome biases and solidify her reputation as both a business owner and leader. She navigated these challenges with skill and professionalism, always keeping the company’s goals and work at the forefront.

Margarita Howard offers this advice to anyone interested in following in her entrepreneurial footsteps: “I would suggest to a business owner to be sure that early on, you develop a core group of external advisers in the different areas of expertise that you will need to rely on, such as external experts in the areas of taxes, legal, banking, insurance, and other areas that may be specifically related to the type of work being done.

“These outside experts will become critical as the business starts to grow, as they will be needed to provide sound subject matter advice when big issues and decisions come up where their expertise level will be needed. Waiting to try to find that expertise later on instead of establishing it upfront can create major problems for the business that did not take the time upfront to build these external advisor relationships.”

Howard says successful business leaders “build a core group of outside trusted advisors for business matters and build an internal team that will tell you, as a leader, what you need to hear, not what they think you want to hear.”

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