Shawnee Huckstep started TechWise eight years ago in Colorado Springs as an IT training company. Within a few years, she had to refocus and restructure the company, while struggling to pay down $1 million in debt.
Today, the company is vibrant and debt-free, with a dramatically different focus.
“We used to teach people how to keep their networks secure,” she said, “but now we teach people how to come home alive.”
Huckstep recently took time to tell CSBJ about herself and her company.
Position: founder, owner and CEO
Hometown: Stephenville, Texas
How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 14 years in February.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Baylor University.
A few words about your company: TechWise brings the best of world-class technical and professional services to government and commercial clients. We help with training, growing and deploying a skilled, knowledge-based work force.
Recent accomplishments: During 2008, TechWise exceeded $10 million in revenue while maintaining double digit profits.
While still supporting current contracts, TechWise joined the War Fighter Focus team supporting the military through a series of task orders to prepare our soldiers. TechWise was awarded contracts to provide theater-specific readiness training at Fort Hood, mission support activities at Fort Benning and support to the 21st and 50th Space Wings in Colorado Springs.
During 2009, TechWise has experienced continued growth in the volume and complexity of task orders supporting the WarFighter Focus team. Earlier this year, I was nominated for the 2009 Entrepreneur of the Year by the American Business Defense and Advisory Council.
Biggest career break: I transitioned the business from a transactional IT training/consulting firm to a government contractor from 2004-06. This transformation was equivalent to starting a new company while being a million dollars in debt on day one — not the most optimal place to be.
The toughest part of your job: Needing someone to vent with and bounce sensitive ideas off. Finding people in similar positions who understand my struggles and needs has been difficult.
Someone you admire: My husband, Arran. His love of learning and making the world a better place has been the basis for everything he does.
About your family: My husband is working on his Ph.D. in molecular biology. We have three boys Pax, 10, Caden, 6, and McCoy, 2.
Something else you’d like to accomplish: Someday, my husband and I would like to support medical research. Our plans are for Arran to be the head scientist while I run the business side.
How your business will change during the next decade: We have to continue to grow and flourish as a mid-market company. Our goals are to continue to build our work force into a group of multi-talented “A-team” players as we strive to be the “desired” competitive business within our areas of expertise.
What book are you currently reading? “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play” by Mahan Khalsa.
What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? The airport. I am a direct flight gal. I would love to see more direct flights into Colorado Springs and a larger variety of carriers.