HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - There are those who think the defense industry is a man's world. Certainly anyone who wandered through the recent SMD Symposium at Huntsville's Von Braun Center would have been excused for believing it. There were plenty of ladies on hand, but most of the attendees were guys. However, that wasn't the case at the booth for LSINC. The company was founded by women.
"It started with five women around my dining room table," said CEO Alicia Ryan.
The company has grown from the first five to 50 employees working in three states and the District of Columbia. "We were blessed. We were able to grow very fast and were able to move into an office within a couple of months," says Ryan. She also says that Huntsville was a great place to start a business, almost unique for making success possible.
These days, the company helps other defense businesses develop strategies. It works in intelligence and counter intelligence, and it even helps design and develop products and prototypes. In all the work, being founded and owned by women is a plus. "I think it has its advantages. I think the government has provided some of those advantages to us. So, I would say definitely," says Alisha Weldon, the company's Vice President for Finance and Operations.
There are plenty of men who work for LSINC, too. James Bullington, Vice President for Engineering and Manufacturing came to his current job when his former company was purchased by LSINC. He also says being led by women is a plus.
"Attention to detail and leadership qualities. That's one thing that has been different for us," says Bullington.
LSINC is one of many north Alabama defense companies. It's not the first, nor the last founded and led by women. Scott Miller knows the LSINC story well, since his wife was one of the five ladies around the dining table. He says it's the leadership of the company that really makes it special.
"I think Alicia being a woman gives this company a different perspective on how to support the defense industry, and how to provide value to that industry," says Miller, who is the company's Senior Vice President for Strategy.
LSINC CEO Alicia Ryan says she was told early on by some colleagues that she needed to act more like a man, but she says she doesn't believe that.
"I think the value that I bring as a woman, and the strategic mindset that I have, my abilities to multi-task is a value. I think when we focus on our value, and not try to be something we're not, we have a much better chance of helping," says Alicia. She says respecting everybody at the table, men and women, brings success.
For LSINC, about to celebrate its eighth anniversary in what's still a mostly male dominated industry, that appears to be very true.