At Octo, we are always pleased to interview employees who embody our core value of innovation. Today, we feature Caitlin Fitzpatrick, Project Manager with Octo’s National Security and Civilian Business Unit. Caitlin has been with Octo since 2012 and supports the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshals team. Let’s hear about Caitlin’s work and her approach to innovation.
Caitlin, thank you for joining us today. How would you describe the work you do for Octo?
I view my primary job as doing anything I can to make my team members’ lives easier in service to the customer. I fully subscribe to the “servant leader” mindset and every day I strive to do everything I can to make sure my team is successful. I think one of the most important things for a team is for them to know that their team – and most importantly, their leaders – will have their back and will be supporting, challenging, and encouraging them along the way.
Thank you for that background. Now let’s turn to innovation, one of Octo’s core values. How do you define “innovation,” and how do you support it?
To me, “innovation” means thinking outside the box. To innovate, you need to be fearless – and understand that it’s ok to make mistakes. What’s important is to learn from those mistakes and come back again with a fresh new perspective. How will we know if someone’s idea is going to be the next amazing thing unless we are brave enough to try it out?
As far as supporting innovation, I am responsible for giving my team the tools they need to innovate. Yes, I mean technology tools, of course, but I also mean confidence and psychological safety. Without those things, even the most brilliant ideas and innovations will sputter out before they ever get started.
As you’ve supported innovation and practiced it yourself through your leadership, what is one project or challenge you have taken on, and what has been your approach?
Here’s one challenge we’ve learned to overcome. Sometimes, a customer does not know exactly what they want because they don’t know the options or the possibilities the technology holds. Our approach is to show them the magic of what is possible so they can have something to evaluate. Hopefully, they are delighted! But even if they are not quite sold on a solution, from this feedback, we gain valuable information to iterate on and make the solution better for the second review. Rapid prototyping is a great way to do this because it shows the customer what we are capable of and lets them really see the different options in front of them before they make a final decision on which avenue to take.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
My advice would be to put as much work into the relationships with your team and your customer as you do in the technology and the development work. Sometimes people think that working in tech means you sit in your corner and code all day without interacting with anyone. On my team, even though we are remote, we collaborate all day, every day, with each other and with our customers. This helps us learn from each other, share ideas, and help each other when someone gets stuck. Being comfortable with each other and building trust – that’s what teamwork is about, and that’s how we build something amazing that will blow everyone away!
Great advice! Anything else you would like to add?
Working at Octo has been amazing for my career. I’m grateful to have leadership that shows up when they are needed but gives me the freedom to make decisions for my team and offers trust, knowing we will ultimately succeed. I love being able to bring my whole self to work, getting to laugh, having fun while working. My experience working at Octo is living proof that you can have fun, be professional, and produce amazing results. They are not mutually exclusive.
Are you an innovator at heart? Would you like to bring your whole self to work and develop relationships along the way?
Whether you support business or technology development, Octo has positions for professionals dedicated to helping federal customers meet important missions. Learn more by exploring our Careers page. Veteran? Start your search here.