How Margarita Howard Leads HX5 in Navigating Regulatory Challenges in the Defense Sector

How Margarita Howard Leads HX5 in Navigating Regulatory Challenges in the Defense Sector

In defense contracting, leading a company through compliance and regulatory requirements demands expertise and a measured approach to continuous adaptation and improvement. Margarita Howard, the sole owner and CEO/president of HX5, has successfully steered her company through these complexities, ensuring that it survives and thrives in the challenging defense sector.

Navigating the defense sector involves a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape. Regulatory compliance is a significant part of HX5’s operations. “Working for the government, you’re always going to be audited,” Howard explains, emphasizing the importance of meticulous financial and operational practices.

“From working in the industry, we knew the importance of impeccable record keeping. Therefore, we’ve always ensured our finances and all our records of everything we say we do must always be supported with the appropriate documentation and recorded accurately, because as a government contractor, all of our records are open to the government’s inspection and audits at any time. These are some of the many reasons for the high standards that we hold,” Margarita Howard adds.

”As a government contractor being paid with tax-payer dollars, it is the government’s job to audit every single area of what we do for them, from the labor department evaluating our human resources policies to the financials that we bill to the government for services provided being audited by multiple agencies. Additionally, our security department goes through an annual security audit as well, making sure that we’re doing the proper security training and providing everything needed for the people that are cleared. So it may seem like there’s always an audit going on, but that’s just part of the business of being a government contractor.”

HX5 has a team of advisers who specialize in the policies and regulations that are part of the government industry. They help manage the complexities of defense contracting regulations and ensure that HX5 remains compliant with all applicable laws and standards.

Continuous Improvement and Learning

Government contracting can be daunting given its extensive sets of rules, regulations, and compliance requirements. Businesses must invest in education 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,” Margarita Howard says.

One of the key strategies Howard employs is continuous improvement and learning. “We try to continuously assess our performance, refine our strategies, and invest in professional development education so our employees are able to always stay ahead in performance,” she states.

“To best support our customers and their respective missions, it’s imperative we fully understand and comprehend the specifics of their needs and priorities in order to be in a position to submit a winning proposal and to be able to perform successfully on that program if we’re the selected winner.”

Margarita Howard is a service-disabled veteran who believes in the value of ongoing training and development. By providing continuous professional development opportunities, HX5 ensures its workforce is equipped to handle the demands of government contracting. “Continuously investing in one’s professional development and business capabilities helps with staying updated on relevant industry trends, regulations, and best practices, which can help women-owned small businesses be competitive in the government contracting landscape,” she says.

Howard’s emphasis on professional development extends to understanding the regulatory environment. “We know that what we do is not easy to do, and it’s very expensive to ensure it’s done right,” she notes. This commitment to excellence helps the company ensure full compliance with all requirements, while maintaining a high operational efficiency standard.

“We prefer to hire experienced individuals, so we look for people who have worked with, or supported, the Department of Defense, as this experience is always very helpful. Experience in their respective fields such as contracting, accounting/finance, and HR is key because leading a workforce in this industry is very different than leading it in the commercial world.”

At a time when technology plays a crucial role in compliance, Howard has made significant investments in tools that enhance HX5’s ability to meet regulatory requirements. “We try to stay ahead of those changing technologies, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity,” she says.

Strategic Partnerships and Networking

Howard understands that successfully traversing the regulatory landscape often requires strong relationships and partnerships. “We are always looking to build our relationships with the government and other prime contractors within the government contracting community. We attend industry events, networking functions, and government-sponsored outreach programs, as they allow us to establish new connections and stay informed about upcoming opportunities within the sectors we operate in and support,” she says.

“The information that we learn through these activities is often important to the proposal writing process. That said, for any company to be successful, it must be able to clearly articulate its unique value proposition and differentiate its services from its competitors. We always highlight our expertise, past performance, certifications, and other specialized capabilities that align with the government’s opportunity-specific requirements and objectives.”

The company also collaborates with other firms to enhance its capabilities and competitiveness. Margarita Howard says, “Building strategic partnerships or teaming arrangements with other contractor firms enhances the respective teams’ capabilities and competitiveness.

“We’ve found that in some situations, depending on the program or customer, effective collaboration with companies whose services are complementary to our own allows the combination of companies to be able to offer the best overall comprehensive solutions that meet the needs of the government.”

Balancing Compliance With Operational Efficiency

A careful balance between compliance and operational efficiency characterizes Margarita Howard’s leadership at HX5. She acknowledges compliance can be resource-intensive but insists it’s essential for success in the defense sector. “We try to ensure the budget is realistic, but it always must allow for potential contingencies and unforeseen expenses,” she states.

When bidding on a contract, HX5 considers a range of factors, including the proposal’s complexity, timeline, technology requirements, and any specialized skills that may be required. “From there, we identify the team members to be assigned to the effort based on skill sets, knowledge, availability, etcetera, and then outline their respective roles and responsibilities in the effort,” explains Margarita Howard.

“We ensure the team members identified for the proposal team have the necessary expertise and experience to successfully support the proposal. In conjunction with identifying the staffing needs, we define a budget that accounts for all expected proposal costs, including personnel costs and any other costs for other things that may be needed for the particular proposal, such as special equipment, materials, travel, consultants, etcetera.”

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