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Sujey shares with us the lessons he's learned about the Human Condition from years of #coaching youth Basketball. He uses that knowledge and insight to leading teams both on the Court and in Business.
𝐓𝐡𝐞 #𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚 𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐥𝐞𝐝𝐠𝐞 𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐝𝐝 𝐮𝐩 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐡𝐞'𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐇𝐢𝐠𝐡-𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐓𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐬
His outgoing personality and ability to maximize strengths, fill the gaps, knowing when to press and knowing when to slow the game down make it no secret why people can't help but gravitate to his team.
Sujey opens up about how a major life lesson taught at an early age from his entrepreneurial father who immigrated to the US instilled a work ethic within him which later provided the #resilience and #perseverance he needed to recover from the Dot Com Bust and the loss of a job which proved to be a pivotal point in his career.
𝐁𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐌𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐩 𝐔𝐬 𝐆𝐞𝐭 𝟏% 𝐁𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐃𝐚𝐲!
Sujey Edward: Matching that? We’re good.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Um, Sujey, Edward Octo consulting.
Sujey Edward: Absolutely great to be here.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Thank you for doing this.
Sujey Edward: Thank you. Thank you for having me on.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah, we’re almost matching suits.
Sujey Edward: Listen, this is that type of year, right? Blue is in.
Phillip K. Naithram: Um, we’ve got these cool coffee mugs from OCTO. You guys got some big stuff going on downstairs too.
Sujey Edward: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. OLabs is getting set up downstairs. We’re going to have, um, some of the best compute power that you can imagine, you know, and, and if I go a little nerd here for a minute, you know, 15 pedaflops of AI ready infrastructure, we have three DGX, a one hundred, a 26.
The planner screen got all days like goggles and I mean, drones, you name it. It’s hundred downstairs. So, I’m boosted about it. You could tell, spent, uh, quite a bit of cashflow on it, uh, to get that thing up and running. So, I’m excited about our grand opening coming up here in a couple months. You’re going to be out there for that, right?
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. I’ll be there! Um, so anyone listening can already tell you’re the CTO. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, no one else would be that passionate.
Sujey Edward: It’s a nerd life. That’s what I’m about. Yeah. Let’s, let’s get it in. So yeah, absolutely.
Phillip K. Naithram: Uh, what a CTO. So, let’s talk about that for a second. So, you’re the CTO of Octo consulting and you’ve been in the government contracting industry for a while.
Yeah. And around, um, some of you, our friends from around the beltway salient CRGT um, others. But, uh, you know, you also coach basketball. Yeah. Right? You basketball coach. Did you play basketball?
Sujey Edward: I played, but I was, uh, I went to a really great high school, uh, and so was not good enough for that team, but, you know, play every week with my buddies, uh, you know, for a number of years and weekend warrior.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Where’d you go to high school?
Sujey Edward: I went to DeMatha Catholic, so, you know, national power and basketball and other things as well. So, it was a, you get some hurt feelings there. You’re a good basketball player. And you show up on that floor.
Phillip K. Naithram: Did you play, um, like club ball in college or anything like that?
Sujey Edward: You know, intermural type activities and all the stuff I got into basketball, honestly, it’s really weird. Um, I’ve always had a passion for it. Always liked it. Uh, the head coach of the team was a guy who was 23 and you needed to be 25 to drive the team bus around. And I happened to be 25 and I was good friends with him and he said, hey, listen, I need an assistant coach. But really, he just needed a bus driver. So. Uh, I sat with him for a long time. Really got a passion for the sport, passion for coaching, uh, and then went off on my own and, and coach for a number of years. So, yeah. And are you still coaching now? I am still coaching now. So, um, I coach, um, at a really small school before I coached at the varsity level at, um, call it a middle prep school.
Um, actually got good enough to get a small, like N a. Uh, college offer. It’s not a division 1, 2, 3, right? It’s it’s below that if you will. So, so I got decent at it. Like people said, Hey, this guy actually knows what he’s doing. It’s good to go.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. And you coach now the boys and girls club.
Sujey Edward: Yeah. I coach. Uh, at JV girls’ team, uh, now at the school, uh, and there’s a point that I coached varsity boys and, and varsity girls. So exciting experience. A lot of things I’ve learned from those, uh, those experiences. My daughter happens to be on the JV girls’ team. So, part of the reason while I, why I decided to coach and JV girls’ coaches, there aren’t a lot of them out there.
Most of them want to play D varsity or do middle school, but JV girls, there’s a, there’s a. Yeah.
Phillip K. Naithram: So, I dug into that a little bit, you know, because I found there’s something consistent about, uh, either club, sports, team sports, sometimes individual sports. There are several people that I’ve spoken to that did an individual sport, like track and field swimming, but there’s something about that environment that translates really well.
And it makes perfect sense because you’re leading a team, but translates really well into the business environment and understanding people, understanding. How to motivate other people in the human condition and how sometimes, because we’ve all been there, you do it, you know, you lose a game or you’re not performing to the best of your ability.
Our internal voice is probably way worse than an external voice. So having a strong hand of criticism externally is probably not the best way to go. Oh yeah.
Sujey Edward: You know, it’s, it’s interesting just on the team sport aspect of it. Um, what it’s taught me is that, um, each of the teams that I’ve ever coached have been.
Right. Like different stars, different, uh, strengths, different weaknesses that are out there. And I think sometimes what you see is you see coaches or you even see executives, they have a system, they have a way that they want things done and they have. Putting that in, on an organization or a team. And they are surprised that the results that they get aren’t as optimal as things they had gotten in the past.
And so, for me, I look at it and I say, look from a sports team perspective. If I’ve got nothing but small, fast people, right. Like press, right. Well, you got to, you got to be able to do that. If I’ve got everything. Big and slow. We’ll slow down the slow down the game, make less possessions in a game. So really understanding what are the strengths and what are the weaknesses of the team.
Um, and that is down at the individual level. So, when you translate that into the business world, and you think about team sports, you really have to say to yourself, you know, what are my strengths and weaknesses? I’m going to hire people that can hide my weaknesses. And that I can help them with my strengths.
So now we become a more cohesive unit and you start building organizations that way, and that way you can actually achieve some different things. So, uh, you know, you, you hear about this. If you’re, you know, Calipari or Zabian or, you know, one of these big-time coaches, you can have. Um, and players will conform to your system, but most of us don’t have that luxury.
So, you know, look at the folks that you have around you and the ingredients that you have around you really be introspective on yourself and then build a team that can be really strong on your, on the strengths that you have as a, as an entity and as a group. Does that make sense?
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Yeah. 100%, um, work with the tools that you were getting.
But still utilize the skillset that you know, you have and the methodology you want to use, but with what you have, do you, how many people are on your team?
Sujey Edward: Uh, like direct reports or like direct reports. I have nine direct reports and there are 90 people that work inside of my organization. And then the company-wise dotted line to me, there’s 1300 people inside the business, right.
Phillip K. Naithram: Where I was going with that is, do you communicate with basketball? Jargon in your presentations with listen,
Sujey Edward: when I was young, I used to, I tried not to just because the sports analogy is lost on some folks. Um, so once in a while I’ll use a sports analogy. Sometimes I use a kid allowed it analogy or family analogy.
Sometimes I just don’t use analogy. I just explain, explain what I need to explain. Um, but yeah. Yeah, I don’t, I try not to just because again, not everybody played basketball and not everybody related to sports.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Did you grow up, uh, around this, that you went to DeMatha and high school, but did you grow up around this area?
Sujey Edward: Yeah, absolutely. I’m I’m DMV born and raised, you know, PG county stand up. I live in moko now, so, you know, Hey, I’ve moved up and moved up in the world. So it’s, uh, it’s been an amazing journey. Just being an area of my friends are from this area. Family immigrated here, uh, to the U S um, way back before they were married.
And so our community is based in this area. So it’s, it’s, this area has been amazing for me. So your parents met here? Yeah, they did. They did. Yeah. That’s always a, that’s always a good question for, you know, folks that are brown, right. Like, you know, ultimately did they marry and they, yeah, they, they met here.
My mom immigrated here when she was 18. Um, my dad a little bit, uh, older. Uh, but they came here in the late sixties, uh, separately. They had multiple jobs and one of those jobs, they happen to, uh, you know, meet each other there, fall in love and, and you know, here I am.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Is that so where they technical people too??
Sujey Edward: No, not at all. So, I mean, I think what’s interesting is my mom. Um, she worked for the world bank, but she came here, like I said, when she was 18, since she got her GED, when she was here, didn’t go through the rest of the college. Uh, worked at the world bank. She worked at the embassy, Indian embassy worked at, um, a hotel.
She did a bunch of different things and then finally got a job at the world bank and she stayed there for her entire career. My dad, um, you know, he. Is Indian, but lived in Sri Lanka. And so he immigrated here in the late sixties. He also worked at the Indian embassy for a little bit. He worked at that hotel that’s where met my mom.
Um, he worked at the IMF, uh, which is across the street from the world bank. Right. You know, sister agency there. And then, um, he was an entrepreneur. So, he went out there. Yeah. You know, it took some loans, six, some chances, uh, you know, uh, did the gas station thing, but he’s done a bunch of different types of. Yeah. Things while he was, while he was alive.
Phillip K. Naithram: So yeah, your dad, that was one thing that I remember, uh, when we first met you kind of sharing your dad was a very entrepreneurial person. He did restaurants, he did a lot of different things. Do you think, what kind of impression do you think that had on you as a younger, younger, like how many siblings do you have and what do you remember from being a child?
Sujey Edward: Great question. So., I have two sisters. Um, and so, uh, he, for my father, he was a very influential person in my life. Uh, somebody who really kind of impressed upon me, you know, the value of things. He talked in parables and stories, if you will. And he, you know, he drew from the Bible and he drew from the Qur’an.
From like, you know, history and, and, you know, you name it. Like he, he drew from those different experiences to explain stories and different things. Um, and then also himself, he was a really, uh, charismatic individual. And so, he really did push some of those, those things forward. So, I did draw a lot from him.
Um, I think, um, the one story that kind of came to mind, you know, when I think about like all the stories that he, uh, he told me one of the stories. That happened to us. I was senior year in high school taking physics. Um, wasn’t doing very well in physics, you know, and I was sitting there studying like crazy for the final exam and everything.
And he said, and he says, oh man, you know, what are you studying for? And I told them, I’m studying for physics. And he knew I was struggling in the class. And so he says, listen, I’ll tell you what, um, if you get an, a, I’ll give you a a hundred bucks, like keep in mind, this is early nineties, like a hundred bucks to me, you know, whose monthly allowance was like $10.
Like what a hundred dollars like, oh yeah. It’s like 10 CDs. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s crazy, right? Like, um, what we’re going to be able to, what I’m going to be able to get with these a hundred bucks. And so, um, I was like, okay, cool. So, I’m like studying, I’m going crazy and, and, and working really hard. So. Uh, anyway, test comes by and goes and pass or whatever.
And I’m sitting at the table one day and my dad comes in and he walks past, he’s going to his room to get, get changed. And he stops and he says, hey, how did the Tesco? And I said, uh, you know, I didn’t do as well. I got a C on it. And so, he says, oh, okay. And he starts, uh, walking past me. Right. Like, you know, and you know, that’s how I call my father up.
Uh, and he turns around, he says, yeah. And I said, hey, you know, listen, I know. You know, get an a in the task, but I work really, really hard. And I don’t know if you remember the Cosby show episode where Theo got a hard C right. And, and Dr. Huxtable was like, excited about that hard seed that he got. And so, you know, seeing the episode and I was like, let me ask him.
So, so I said, hey, you know, I S I worked really hard and, you know, while it’s not a, an a, it’s a hard CC, like, you know, I worked really hard for it. And he said, So Jima mom means like a term of endearment. He says, schema, that might be the dumbest thing you’ve ever said to me in your entire life. And I’m like, looking at I’m shocked.
I just saw this on NBC. Like, hey, you got an artsy. If it’s heartwarming story. And, and he’s telling me, that’s the dumbest thing he’s heard in his life. And I’m, so I, I kind of. Look at him with this confused look and he says, I don’t pay for effort. I pay for results. And I was like, whoa. You know, and it hit me.
I was like, oh man, this is cold-blooded. So off. He goes, he gets changed. And it took me years to really understand what he meant by that and what I, what I look at. And I, I think about what does it take to be successful? And I put that in quotes, like successful. What does it take to arrive? There’s a lot of failures along the way.
There’s lots of bumps and bruises. And when you look at the path from where you are today to success, the road is filled with people that quit along the way. And so, what he was trying to drive into me was like, don’t be satisfied with just giving a good effort, like be satisfied when you get to the accomplishment and the goal you set for yourself.
And so, when you think about like that as like a mantra, and you say to yourself, like, man, you know, yeah, this was really, really hard, but I’m not at my goal yet. So, I’m just going to keep working. Um, it is in an incredible amount of drive to get to that point. And that’s with everything. I try to breed that into my own kids. We’ll see if it works, works or not, you know? So
Phillip K. Naithram: like, you know, and you were 18 when you got that first, did you recognize that was happening at the time? At the time, I’m sure you were upset probably a lot.
Sujey Edward: Like, listen,
Phillip K. Naithram: when did it click for you? That this is what I learned. Like where did you first see that represent itself in your life? Like if someone’s listening and they want to.
Sujey Edward: Yeah, that’s a great, great question. I think I didn’t really appreciate like the full message of that probably until I was in my thirties. Now, what I will tell you though, is that, that echo that I heard from that moment, at that moment, I was like, man, this is like messed up.
Right? Yeah. And listen, I, I don’t know about your background, but my background, like. Everything was rewarded with money, right? Like you got good grades, you got money, you got bad grades. They, they took money from you. Right. You know, so a birthday gifts for money, right? Like it was, it was a culture around.
So, I just looked at him and said, I he’s just, you know, being a little stingy with it. And, you know, I didn’t accomplish whatever, you know, but keep in mind at that point, as I reflect back on it, here’s a guy with a 10th grade education at that point was running, you know, eight successful, small businesses throughout the DC Metro area.
And he was doing it because like he had this hustle and grind to be able to accomplish a certain thing. So, when I reflect back on it, I think about, you know, a job that I got laid off from right. Dot com exploded. And, and we, we lost our work. So, I reflect back on that, like, hey, that was just a part of the journey to end up.
Some of the success criteria that I wanted, or, you know, an exam in college that maybe I didn’t do as well on like that was just a bump in the road to be able to help me with my journey. So, I don’t think I truly appreciate it until I was in my thirties, but as I reflected back on it, that that echo I heard throughout my entire life and I still hear it.
Yeah. what.com, were you involved with? Um, it was great. It was a company called I finance. Um, and what they had was they had a way for you to purchase things, but pay for it in installments. Consider it like at the time. I don’t know if everybody remembers and people are probably too well off to remember this, but lay away was a big thing, you know, growing up.
And so, um, this was like a layaway. For dot comes to do it. And so, what happened, ultimately, which blew up that company was, you know, visa and all these other big companies, like best buy. Why would I, you know, outsource this to some other company I can re underwrite my own, uh, credit. And so eventually I went away, but it was a great idea. It was a great thought.
Phillip K. Naithram: So that’s around that. So that that’s sort of when they started doing their own store credit cards and allowing you to do that.
Sujey Edward: Yeah, absolutely.
Phillip K. Naithram: And that, unfortunately put you guys out a business
Sujey Edward: listen, I was young and excited. What were you doing for that company at the time? Um, I was doing tech, right. So I was, uh, doing some development. On that some testing work. Um, we did, uh, we all wear lots of different hats inside that type of priority. I am 45. I’ll be 36.
Phillip K. Naithram: How old are you then?
Sujey Edward: Oh, then, um, it must’ve been mid-twenties time. Twenties?
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Were you always tech person? Like when you went to college,
Sujey Edward: I went to college to be a chemistry major.
Phillip K. Naithram: where did you go?
Sujey Edward: Uh, Maryland. So being brown, like you got to go to the medical ground. You got to be back. Right? Dr.
Phillip K. Naithram: You got three choices we’ll tolerate you being an engineer,
Sujey Edward: right? Exactly. And I think, uh, um, one of my buddy’s uh, who was a chemical engineer, he got into tech and he heard that I had an interest in it.
So hooked me up and, uh, took me under his wing. And, and so I owe him a lot of credit for showing me a different path that was out there. And so, um, ever since then, you know, the interest that I’ve had in technology, you know, and the the interests that I’ve had and really building amazing things, um, uh, my passion and energy has come out through that.
Phillip K. Naithram: So, you were with this company for a couple of years, four or five years before
Sujey Edward: the.com? Yeah. Oh no. the.com we lasted, I think, uh, probably less than a year, probably 11 months. So it was, it was a time where everybody was getting funded, their ideas. And so, we were getting these things and then, you know, the, the collapse of that, the.com bubble was that original initial.
Phillip K. Naithram: So, what did you do at that time? How did you respond to that? Like you just lost your job. Yeah. 27th. And you live in an apartment or living at home.
Sujey Edward: I live in an apartment. Um, actually, so what was crazy was I was looking to buy my first house. Right. And so real estate agent, you know, all that good stuff.
Um, I was working downtown DC on, on K street there and I take the Metro in and out. So, I remember taking the Metro out. Um, at the time I was dating my girlfriend, she’s now my wife. Color on the way. And I tell her, you know, what’s, what’s happened. She’s like, oh, okay. You want me to pick you up from the Metro?
And I was like, yeah, can you pick me up? So, she comes over to pick me up. We go to KFC and we have honey barbecue wings. Uh, I look, I I’m a big guy, right? Like I like to eat. So, I ate my sorrow there for, you know, a day. And then I said, look at the end of the day, this is, I want to get a house. I want to get married.
I want to have kids. These are the goals that I want to have thinking about what my father talked about before. I’m like, this is the bump in the road. So, I started applying for jobs and ended up getting a job pretty quick, um, you know, in the government sector. And so. You know, amazing experience. You know, I learned a lot from that moment.
Um, I was caught off bond. I was blindsided. I was young. I didn’t understand, you know, the economics of it all, but, um, yeah, no, it was great. It was a good experience, honey. Barbecue wings though. Brought me back that brought you back. Yeah, absolutely.
Phillip K. Naithram: And when did you meet? When did you meet your wife?
Sujey Edward: Yeah, actually I met her, you know, when we were young, we were, uh, late teens.
Yeah. Early in college. Uh that’s when I met her. So yeah, we’ve been together forever. And you have how many kids. Yeah. Yeah. What do you think and how old are they? Uh, my eldest is 14, 11, 7, and then three. Yeah. So, planning and planning is not one of my strengths, so I hire people that can plan really well.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. I mean, yeah.
Sujey Edward: Four kids, four kids with that type of spread, you know, just when you’re out of diapers, they pull you back into diapers, right? Yeah. Okay.
Phillip K. Naithram: What, uh, I mean, what kind of impact do you, so being at a CTO level, I want to get back to a little bit of the story behind how you got to where you are.
Uh, I mean, we’re, we’re, we’re on that path, but you know, why, why a CTO? Why did you keep trying to get additional responsibility? And then, you know, you’re, you’re in that entrepreneur, uh, position, right? Where you’re, you know, you’re, your part of the leadership of a group, but you’ve got this great influence from your dad and all this experience.
Why not try to do something on your own? Yeah. So, I want to talk to you a little bit about that, but then I feel like you’ve got to be making a huge impact on your daughters, on your kids.
Sujey Edward: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, you know, from the path perspective, I think, um, look at, at the end of the day, I just wanted to do amazing tech.
And what I realized early on in my career is that business people and mission people and people that are focused in, on, you know, operating in the mission, they don’t really care about the tech. They really just want. Help them reach their business goals. So, if you’re, uh, working for national cancer Institute, then they don’t care about the tech.
They want to cure cancer. Right. If you’re working for DOD, you know, they want to, um, they don’t care about the tech. They want to protect, protect warfighters, right? Each of these missions are important. And if you’re working for a commercial company, you know, at the end of the day, they’re selling ads or selling, you know, some sort of product or doing so they don’t really care about the tech.
Um, and so what I found a skill in was being able to articulate to a business person, why the tech was important. That could be an advocate for all of us technologists that are getting. Um, together. So, as I grew in my career and my responsibility, what I really understood was, um, making sure that technologist understood the impact on business and then the business understood the impact on technology.
And so, throughout my career, um, you know, just being able to build those types of things and acquire some other skills from budgeting and planning and those types of things along the way, um, has elevated me to this position. So, when I look at my, my seat now as a CTO, I really look at myself as a servant leader.
In making sure the technologists in the company, um, really get the tools and the techniques and everything they need so they can deliver against the mission. And then, you know, working with the business and my peers ensuring that the technologists have a seat at the table. Right. And making sure they’re treated as first-class citizens.
And so, um, that’s been a unique experience for me on, on the, uh, not doing it on your side. I think that comes a little bit on the team teamwork side. I do feel like. People that have accomplished great things in their lives. Um, I wonder how much they have accomplished by themselves and how much more they could accomplish with a bunch of people around them, right.
That have similar mindsets in wanting to grow and be able to do those things. So here at Octo, one of the most amazing things is, you know, we have an amazing group of. Leaders, not just at the entitle, but just in, in, in their roles or their operations or their skillsets. Um, and so it’s a type of place where I am constantly learning from other people and I feel like people are learning from me as well.
So, um, it’s that, that team team experience and the last thing, the last question you asked was the impact on the kids. Um, Yeah, no, it’s definitely. Each of the kids are different though, too. Like, uh, you know, anybody that’s listening to this, they, they understand like each kid isn’t like a cookie cutter. So, the same thing I said in the beginning where you have a system in place, just because it worked for your one kid, it’s not going to necessarily work for your other kids.
So, my thing is looking at each of my kids individually. You know, what are their strengths? How can I help them really accentuate those strengths to build confidence? And what are those weaknesses? What are those things they need to, to work on? And how do I help them make those weaknesses, you know, less, um, out there there’s some attributes everybody needs to have, but, uh, for the most part, that’s how I think about.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Which, which one of your kids is the toughest toughest to, uh, to kind of wrangle?
Sujey Edward: Oh man. Listen, I tell everybody I’m like, listen, my, my eldest was an angel. Right. You know, I was like, Hey you, she was amazing. Was easy. It convinced us to have another kid. My second kid is a son. Um, she, uh, our, he, uh, Um, was tough, but like not to the point where I was like losing sleep tough.
My third, I call him Gangas Kahn. Cause he’ll invade your country. Like, you know, he’s ready to fight and ready to wrestle, ready to like make a mess. And I thought that was hard until I had my fourth, my daughter, and I call her Thanos. And for all the Marvel fans out there, you know, nap in a snap, she will tear down half the universe and a.
She she a lot. Um, and I don’t know if I’m just getting older, you know,
Phillip K. Naithram: I was just doing that math they’re progressively getting worse, like harder and
Sujey Edward: listen, I don’t know if it’s, if it’s them getting harder or me getting lazier were just like, I can’t deal with this. Yeah. So, I, I don’t know what the answer there is, but, um, I, I do think each of them have different personalities, different ways.
I’m just hoping to give them a platform that they can be successful in whatever they do. Success is going to look like at the end.
Phillip K. Naithram: Do you try not to talk about work and stuff when you’re at home? Or, I mean, you’re probably doing a fair amount of work from home. They see you doing that. They hear the conversations you’re having.
Um, you know, it’d be different. Like if you were a front-end alignment mechanic or something, right. You’re having different conversations, that’s got to wear off on them somehow. Like, I mean,
Sujey Edward: yeah. Yeah. I think they see that. I think, you know, honestly, kids. Care what you do for a living, right? They, they, they, they just want you to be present.
So, I do make an effort to make it to all their games, all their concerts. Um, I’m trying to help them with their homework at night. Although the older ones they’re getting too smart for me. And I’m like having a YouTube at Khan academy. Uh, if people aren’t using that to help with their kids’ homework, I I’m, they’re smarter than I am.
So. You know, so I, I do try to do all those types of things with them. Try to be present, um, you know, watch movies with them. Do, do the things, the activities they like to do. Um, I try to do with them. And then from a work perspective, you know, they ask things from time to time. Um, my, my younger ones. Uh, ask what do I do?
Whereas my older ones, uh, want to understand a little bit more of the nuance. So, you know, I share with them the information and answered their questions. I can also see when they get bored and they’re like, God asked the wrong question and the daddy, right. Let’s move on. You know, I just wanted SpaghettiOs.
Phillip K. Naithram: What, uh, what kind of stuff are you doing to work on yourself? Managing the, the, the stress, but it’s not even just about stress, just being the, the, the individual person you need to be, to be a CTO, a coach, a father, a husband, and all these things. Like what, what’s your average day look like? You have a morning routine. Are you doing, are you doing?
Sujey Edward: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s this group I know most folks that are like in my position are like highly organized. You know, they get up at six in the morning and they do this and they do that. And there, they’re off. I am a little bit different in that, in that. Um, I do try to look at my day, the night before just to understand what’s going to happen the next day.
Do I have to wear a suit or can I wear a t-shirt? Am I wearing my baseball hat? Do I have to shave, you know, whatever those types of things are, um, you know, making sure I’ve got that, that, uh, plan in place. Um, but the mornings usually start out with, you know, making sure the kids are ready, get ready to school.
Either I’ll drop them off or my wife will drop them off. And then, you know, I’ll do do my normal. Uh, work routine, you know, whatever that is, um, to work on myself though, I do try to carve out, um, two things. I think one is, first of all, I live in that moment. So, if I’m at a work meeting, I am present inside that work meeting.
I’m focused. I’m trying to lock into that. I’m not trying to be distracted by other things. If I’m at my kid’s ballgame, try not to do. Any work or any of those types of things I’m like focused in, on, on the ball game, videotaping, you know, showing my kids afterwards, like you see where he missed this defender, uh, you know, um, you know, doing that type of dad stuff.
If I’m, you know, having dinner with my wife, right. Like focus in on. Her and having a conversation. So, I really do try to live in the moment. Um, I do try to carve out a little bit of time for myself, um, that may not be like a workout. I know you do the cold shower thing and like, I don’t, I still don’t know.
I tried to do that by the way I did. I listened. How long did you. Talk to me, like, what was the process? Like I said, listen, Phil, Phil does this cold shower day. Yeah. Let me, let me try this cold shower thing. So, I turned that thing down. Yeah. And I turned it right back off. I was like, man, I did not know.
Phillip K. Naithram: Right. But just think about it. You made it what, one or two seconds that day. Now, if you did it the next day, you might make it. Yeah. And then by the end of the week, you might get a whole 30 seconds in there. And before you know it, you got a minute of a cold shower in here. Yeah.
Sujey Edward: Hey, listen,
Phillip K. Naithram: chipping away at it. And you know, I’ll tell you every single time I do what I never want to do it, but I do it anyway because no matter what, at some point throughout the day, throughout my week, there’s going to come a time where I have to do something I don’t want to do. And it’s never as cold as I thought it was going to be.
So, the narrative that I have running in my mind is never actually representative of reality. It’s always different. Right? And to that, I want to keep reinforcing that, that thought. And I actually. You know, your ma you’re talking about being present in all of your different, um, you know, your responsibilities, wherever you are.
How do you do that? Like, are you, is there something you’re doing to train your mind to be that way? Are you purposely turning off your phone when you’re out of work of that? So, you’re only there?
Sujey Edward: No, no, I don’t turn off my phone, but I am listening. I’m just, I try to listen intently. Right? Um, I, I. If, if somebody, if you’re going to be somewhere, right, why be there half halfway?
Right? Like go do something else. Right. Be focused in on that moment, you know? And for your kids, uh, use this as an example. Um, the other day I drove up, my kid was at practice and I came to pick him up and I came up like 15 minutes early. And as soon as I pull my car, my kids see me, like gives me a wave and continues with practice.
He recognized right. As soon as I pulled in so that they know when you’re like engaged or not engaged and, and things like that, same thing with your spouse or, you know, loved ones, your family, your friends, your coworkers, everybody knows. Right. They can see the glaze in the eye when people aren’t interested.
So, I don’t know. I don’t want me, if I’m saying something important or if I’m out of here, I don’t want that response from anybody else. Why would I give them that response? So being present inside that moment, I just it’s. I think it’s just part of the ethos of who I am. Right. You know, have fun. That’s the other thing I think is big.
Um, you know, at the end of the day, for most of us in our day-to-day lives, the stresses that are there. Um, you know, are important. Like we have to take things that are important are important, but sometimes we build these things up, like, you know, the plant’s going to melt down like, right. It’s like be focused and, and, and you could take that time to really have that energy.
And then for myself, I do try to take a little bit of time. I usually have like the TV running. I’d usually have like a, you know, a game on my phone or something like that. Maybe 20 minutes or so. And we’re at the end of the day, I’m just out. Um, and then I go to bed or I stood out on my, um, my porch and just, just relax for 20 minutes and then come back in just to decompress. Yeah. At different times.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. That’s good. Um, you know, so, so all those things that you mentioned earlier about all the skillsets that you are rounding out to become a CTO, what were some of those, what were the impact of some of those, right. The budgeting. And how did you get those? Did you volunteer for that sort of responsibility? You take classes, you train, you got mentoring.
Sujey Edward: Yeah, I think, you know, first of all, I would volunteer a lot. I think, you know, for people listening to this as they, um, want to go up inside the corporate, uh, corporate ladder and they want to go. Um, to do different things. Um, there are tons of things inside of every company that aren’t getting done.
Right. I mean, everybody looks at it and you look at the biggest companies in the world and you’re like, they had everything I’m like, no, no, no, they don’t. So, look inside your department, look inside your group to see something that’s not getting done in saying, Hey, I. I want to try that. I want to take that on what you’ll find is very, very quickly as you take on these breaths of responsibilities is that you will have a bigger appreciation for an entire organization and you’ll have a more depth.
So, for me, I started. I was doing tech. I saw there was like issues inside of like software testing. So, I wanted to do that. And so, I added that to me, and then I saw like the cm process, configuration management process wasn’t there. So, I started doing that as well. And then I was like, oh, but at the end of the day, the users are the most important people.
And so, I wanted to make sure the help desk had the information they need. So, I started doing that. And then before you knew it, I had like this, this ecosystem of, of technology and software products and how they. Um, on the budgeting side, you know, at the end of the day, somebody says, well, okay, you now are in charge of these four groups.
Like how much? So, all of a sudden, I’m like, do you have a template? You know? And luckily most of the organizations have a template and then I’m working with a finance person to really understand what goes into this template. And you just learn over time. Um, I haven’t been a great traditional learner. I sit in the classroom and absorb the information and then I know exactly how to execute it.
I know there’s a lot of people that are like that. I am much more of a, let’s just jump in the pool and figure out how to. You know, kind of guy
Phillip K. Naithram: well, but you’re asking for help too. That seems like it’s a big skill set of yours is to be able to ask for help. And also, it sounds like to receive the help when it’s given oh,
Sujey Edward: a hundred percent. Yeah. People that know everything, I’m like, well then you know, everything and then right, cool. Wikipedia yourself. Right. Like for me, I’m like, I know what I’m strong at. I know what I’m weak at. I know what I want to improve at. And so. It is, uh, finding those people that have those strengths in my weaknesses. I am happy to take that advice and tapping to take that help.
Phillip K. Naithram: I find that’s probably a tough thing for some of the younger folks. And it sounds like I know you guys do a good job of it here at Octo, and you’ve been in environments and cultures within companies that were okay with you, not knowing and asking questions.
You know, sometimes when we’re younger, we might be more inclined to not bring up the things we don’t know for fear of what will you think about me and whether or not I should be here or I do well at the thing that I do. Um, did you ever kind of have that feeling or do you, what do you do to try to remove that sort of environment or atmosphere from your team?
Sujey Edward: I think, um, two things, one. It’s it’s, I’ve purposely built the team that I have now to have the strengths that they have and the weaknesses they have and have complimentary pieces. So, you know, when you have, for me, I have opinionated technologists. It’s amazing to be in that environment, but at the same token, opinionated technologists are opinionated.
Right. And so, um, sometimes it’s breaking down to people explaining, like when they don’t see eye to eye on things, I’m like, it’s not that they don’t see eye to eye. It’s just that. You need to be able to give your information in a consumable format for this person to use their strengths with. And so, it’s that complimentary, I think for, for young people that get nervous around it, you know, nobody knows everything, right?
So, and for us in tech so, changes so fast, it’s impossible to know everything so consume as much information as you can. The other thing I advise my team. Um, it’s an improv. It’s impossible to have an opinion about everything. And so, what I try to explain to folks is. Like, if you, if this is one thing that’s core to you, you have 3, 5, 10 things that are core to you are absolutely fight on a hill, die on a hill for it, you know, really emphasize those things.
But these other things that somebody asked you, like, if you don’t have an opinion, don’t have an opinion. Think about it. Like when you’re young, somebody says, hey, you want to go get something to eat. And you’re like, yeah. And they say, where do you want to go to eat? And you’re like, wow. Right. Like, you don’t care.
You just want to be in the company of somebody else to get something to eat. So, think about that same way. As people ask you your opinions on, you know, today with all the talking heads that are out there, everybody wants an opinion and that’s what they get paid for. And I get it right. It’s a sport and they’re selling advertisement.
They’re doing all kinds of stuff. I understand that. But. How do you have an opinion about every single topic? Every single thing. Yeah.
Phillip K. Naithram: And that’s the thing, the human brain, we have decision fatigue is a thing. We have a finite number of decisions that we can make every day. And if we’re, you know, if you’re trying to, I mean, if you’re exhausting that on a daily basis.
Yeah. That’s another reason why like, yeah. It’s like, what are you wanting to? I don’t know. I just, I don’t want to, I don’t, I don’t want to make one more decision. Yeah, absolutely. But it’s like, yeah, you’re, you’re, you’re being very. You’re making decisions on the things that you’re speaking about, the things that you have expertise on.
Yeah. Right. It’s the same reason why, you know, you probably wouldn’t go to your dentist for accounting advice. That’s I mean, he probably is good at it, but like, why not go get an accountant? Like, you know, that kind of thing,
Sujey Edward: a hundred percent, a hundred percent agree, a hundred percent agree.
Phillip K. Naithram: And then I think that clears out a lot of the anxiety and fear of like, what if I don’t know the right answer to this thing. It’s like, that’s not the thing I talk about.
Sujey Edward: Yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, look at sitting in the seat, I get to sit in. There’s a lot of decisions that come down to, to me. Um, and when they come to me though, if it’s decision that somebody on my team has an expert on it, as an expert on it, I ask them what is the decision we should make.
Right. And they, you know, using their expertise, their background, all of the things that they focus on, they tell me this is the best option to go with. And so that’s great. I want to have that. There are other things that, you know, we have an amazing CFO. So if he says we’re going to to. Do this, that, and that for accounting purposes, I’m going to argue with them.
No, like tell me what I need to do to support your vision. Right. So, um, you know, all of those types of decisions that, that, that need to be made and that’s with everything, you know, from your home to your family, to your friends, all of these types of things, you don’t have to have an opinion on every single thing. Yeah. Have an opinion on the things that matter to you.
Phillip K. Naithram: Have you ever. You know, looking back. I mean, you’ve, you know, you’re still young, but you’ve had, you know, a lot, a lot of different possibilities.
Sujey Edward: I feel like that was a little bit of a backhanded go listen.
Phillip K. Naithram: Oh, I heard myself saying what I was about to ask you, but like, um, no, I mean, just you ever look back and like, is there, so I call it the jumping off point, but it can be described a couple different ways.
Um, you know, a moment in time where you couldn’t keep doing what you were doing, but you were. Uh, what to do next, right? Maybe you didn’t have all the channels you just described to go pool from and get that information. Um, and you just had to make a decision or maybe it was a moment in time where. No other way to look at this as, you know, something really bad happened where at the time you called it bad, cause it was less than desirable to you at the time you look back and now you’re incredibly grateful for that experience because without it, you wouldn’t be who you are today.
Forget about where you happen to be in terms of like your, your business and everything else. But the person that Sujay gets to be. Wouldn’t be the person Sujay gets to be without that experience.
Sujey Edward: Yeah. You know, I, I, I wish there was like one moment in time that I could like point to, and I don’t have that, that moment.
What I, what I think there are for me is there’s these little things that have changed my behavior, uh, throughout time and made me into the man that I am today and helped me be the leader that I am today. And so, um, It’s it’s these things that, um, have gone through that process that helped me accomplish that.
Now, what I will tell you that is a slightly different about me is that I’m grateful for where I am today. And I think that’s really hard for some folks. Some folks, whether you were in your 21 years old, like being grateful for where you’re at at 21. Is crazy to me. Right? Like, you know, you end up thinking like, oh, I’ve got so much more to go.
So if you’re living in the moment and you’re grateful for what you have is really easy to continue to build on it. So I talked about like being laid off, right. Having honey barbecue wings, it’s vivid memory, by the way, just, you know, they never taste the same by the way. Now, if you go get the honey barbecue wings, uh, the now, yeah.
I don’t know if it’s did in the nineties or just the moment of my life that I just needed to pick me up. And those things were just really amazing. Yeah. Um, but grateful for the things that have happened to me throughout my life and, and having the opportunity. So even when I lost my job, you know, I was grateful that I had a skillset that I knew I could go find another job.
I was down for a day. Right. But grateful for that opportunity. Um, I was grateful for, um, just the different things that I’ve had. You know, my parents didn’t go to college, but they were able to convince me to go and help me to go through that process and so forth. So I’m grateful for that, that experience.
I have, I’m grateful for the job I have. I’m grateful for, you know, the bosses I’ve had the good ones and the bad ones, you know, over, over life. So I just, when you look at that type of. Gratefulness, uh, on the different opportunities, whether they’re good or bad, it really does help you propel yourself forward.
Um, I also look at it when I think about, you know, parents come in here to the U S I don’t know if people know this, but, you know, folks that immigrated way back then you’re only allowed to bring $7 dollar store. Yeah. Seven bucks. I mean, think about that coming to a strange country where you might know three or four people, you know, with $7 in your pocket, um, and having to survive.
And so with. You know, got her GED here. Right? So she’s not coming. It didn’t know English, by the way, when she came, uh, my dad spoke some English, but not much. Right. You know, they were speaking different languages where they’re at. So coming here and then having to learn, um, uh, with not much money and, you know, trying to figure it out.
And you’ve got like 60 days to go figure it out, get a job, get two jobs, three jobs, whatever you need to do to put some money together to. You know, getting out, get an apartment, get a place. So, um, I, when I think about that, what they had to go through, I’m like, what, what do I have to complain about? You know, um, I had an education, I speak the language I can write.
I know I have skills, like ultimately. Nobody’s counting on me either. Like my kids are counting on me, but you know, they’re, they’re going to be doing, doing all right. You know? So anyway, it’s a grateful yeah.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Gratitude is such a powerful tool. And being able to reframe a lot of those things is important because you look at, you know, what you call a struggle.
Like we’re doing pretty, you’re doing okay. You have an opportunity and it, it helps right-size that ego and the vulnerability that we may feel in that moment. Right. You know, it’s like, We can, we can be selfish at times to think like, this is happening to me, but a lot of times it’s, you know, yeah. This could be the greatest event that, yeah.
Sujey Edward: And look, everything that’s going, it, everything that’s worth accomplishing is hard. Yeah. It’s supposed to be hard. Otherwise everybody to do it, like, I mean, legitimately it’s supposed to be hard. And so when you think about. Uh, you know, you’ve used like a YouTuber, right. As, and you’re like, oh wow. That person is so successful.
They got so lucky. No, listen, whether you agree with it or don’t agree with it, there was a grind that they had to go through to get to that level of success. If you want to look at, you know, a politician or a. You know, a person that’s a mechanic. Like there was a struggle that people had to do to get to that point and that, you know, career.
So if you have a gratitude error, if you know, you’re supposed to fail along the way, and you’re going to keep getting back up and keep going forward, like it’s a, it’s an easy process.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah, no, I love that. I love that. And we can be grateful for so many things that, you know, our hands and feet work we’re fully clothed.
Yup. You know, we slept inside, not outside know, I purposely choose to use cold water, but I have hot water. Yeah. You know, that kind of thing. Um, you know, so all of this added up, I mean, what are some of the, how are you able to apply this with OCTO? Like what are you guys working on? And I know you have this team of nine, the core team of nine decentralized command.
That makes sense. Right. You have so many people here, but. You know, how are you influencing OCTO now? And what are you guys working on? What are you guys doing?
Sujey Edward: Yeah, no, we’re working on a lot of great things. I think, you know, the big thing that we’re focusing on is what I said earlier around making sure the business people or the mission, people reach their mission through tech.
And so, we ha we serve a lot of great missions. Um, I think, uh, the technologist that we’ve been able to bring together are just techies, right? They have backgrounds, um, in government or they have backgrounds, you know, working on the front lines of some of these different issues and challenges that, um, That the federal government is taking on.
And so, for what we are, we are positioned now with amazing technologists, amazing, uh, folks, we have the, uh, mission folks that are embedded together with that. So, we really have that subject matter expertise and really understanding what’s going to happen there. Um, and then the third thing is. We have the capital to be able to build some next generation type tools.
So, I talked about the lab downstairs and all that great stuff that we’re going to be building out. Um, what I’m really excited about is it’s really going to get fielded this stuff. Isn’t going to sit on a shelf somewhere. It’s going to get fielded and use to help people really meet their mission objective. So, um, you know, we’re focused in on artificial intelligence, obviously.
Uh, we’ve been in agile Develops, uh, industry for a long, long time, uh, cloud cyber and data. Um, the data mesh and the data, common data fabric and the things that we’re working on that area, I think are going to revolutionize how. The federal folks really access site access data. So, um, lots of great, uh, tech coming soon, uh, you know, people be able to see a lot of that type of stuff and, and some of our customers are ready leveraging it.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. And so, and so the, the old lab, what, what is that going to be for? Is that to like defense folks can come in and play with the headsets that cause
Sujey Edward: you guys are doing something, we doing a lot of work with the HoloLens and the ATAC devices. Um, I I’d say it’s more than just the defense market. Yeah. I think is, um, two things.
One is, um, I have the saying, I say imagination, sock. And so, um, people often look at the same, um, their problems and they come up with the same types of solutions that are there. And so, if you look at it like modernization efforts, a lot of times you’ll have a green screen and I’ll go to a web format of the green screen, but that’s not how we interact.
Like we interact differently now. Right. And so. What we want to be able to do inside this environment is using our centers of excellence, using our technologists, using our subject matter expertise, to have the government come in and pair with us to actually build these products that will help with that frontline.
So, we do have a very strong defense mission group here, but that’s about 50% of our business. The other 50% is in the civilian market. So, you know, folks like. Folks that are worried about immigration. Like there are different types of things we can display and show inside this environment that can revolutionize their environments there.
So again, getting people out of that, like sucky imagination, and really focused on the art of the possible that’s out there is what we’re going to focus in on that environment. The other thing is too, I think a world-class technical talent can go anywhere in the world. Like people don’t realize that there aren’t that many.
Um, engineers that are in the United States that are citizens that can get cleared and so forth. Right. And you’re competing on a global market for them. You’re competing with Silicon Valley. You’re competing with. India and China, you’re competing with a lot of different people that need this technical talent.
And so, we feel like technical talent wants to come somewhere where they’re not just selling ads. You know, they’re not just, you know, Netflix goes down, it’s a bad day. They really want to make an impact on human lives. They want to go out there and help cure cancer. They want to go out there and keep war fighters safe.
They want to go out there and help with substance abuse and mental health. They want to go do all these types of efforts. But their skills are around tech. So, the idea is to bring this environment together. So, these amazing technologists is amazing subject matter expertise. Our government clients can all partner together to really handle these next generations.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, so anyone who’s graduating Vtech, uh, Maryland, you know, I don’t want to start naming the, I’m going to forget somebody, right?
Sujey Edward: It’s Mason, go, go through all the lists. I know
Phillip K. Naithram: I’ve got to like, make sure I don’t upset any of our friends. If they want to, if they like anything you said, and they want to work for OCTO, what do they do?
How do they get in touch?
Sujey Edward: Yeah. So, listen, we are always looking for talent, you know, and that’s not just talent that’s coming out of, um, out of school, but like, you know, uh, people that are in the middle of career, people that are senior in their career, uh, we’re always looking for that technical. Um, here, I’d say the best way is honestly good in the website.
And going through that, we do run a really good intern program. Um, that one of my, one of my guys runs. Um, and so they will get a lot of exposure in that, but going through the website is going to be the easiest way, um, to connect. Um, and they can always shoot me a note on LinkedIn too, you know, um, um, public out there.
You can just connect with me and I’ll get you to the right. Right folks.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. And you guys, you have offices. Yeah, Arizona. I know you’ve got one going on out there.
Sujey Edward: We have a Phoenix, Colorado, Boston, and then we have several here in the DC area in the area.
Phillip K. Naithram: Yeah. Well, this has been great. I’m really appreciate you sitting down and chatting with us.
Sujey Edward: Listen, I appreciate you coming all the way out here and, and having a great conversation, looking good in your blue suits. So, uh, you know, with all your hair and all that good stuff too. So, I appreciate everything and I appreciate you coming out here today. Thanks so much today. Thanks.