McGuire Program Grad Lands Aerial Systems Dream Job

March 9, 2016


Callie Groth, MBA '14

When Callie Groth received her MBA in 2014, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but she was sure it would be in the entrepreneurial world. Though she previously worked in change management and business development at Microsoft and CoreLogic, after spending a year building a new venture from the ground up in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, the corporate world just no longer appealed to her.

“I knew I wanted to work somewhere that was innovative, diversified, and moved quickly,” she said. “I wanted to work with a team at a company and design things from the ground up.” 

She’s found that opportunity as the Vice President, Business Development at BrockTek, an unmanned aerial systems design and manufacturing company based in Tucson. While the company was originally founded in 2006, a change of ownership in July 2015 pushed the company back to startup mode. At that point, she took over to spearhead the redesign of the business model and strategic vision moving forward. In February of this year, Groth championed the transition of BrockTek to become a wholly owned subsidiary of AllSource Global Management.

“With the change of ownership and the change in the business model, we changed the structure, the culture and environment as well,” she said. “We have an entrepreneurship model and culture now, which has become the foundation of our organization.”

BrockTek vehicles range from the Havoc, which has a 16-foot wingspan and can fly up to 18 hours, to the Storm, a 39-inch vehicle that folds into a backpack and is easy for one person to assemble in the field without tools. The vehicles have widespread uses, from agriculture, heard management and mapping, to defense, border security and search and rescue.

“We design and develop everything,” Groth said. “We talk to customers and prototype for them and then build to order. We’re staying flexible and responding to our customer’s needs.”

That’s where her McGuire experience has come in handy. 

“I am utilizing every single skill possible that I learned from the McGuire Program,” she said. “Bring an entrepreneur is certainly not an easy job, but there is never a doubt in my mind that this is where I should be. A day never goes by that’s easy, but a day never goes by where I want to walk away from it.” 

What do you consider your biggest entrepreneurial success?

I have my entrepreneurial dream job. My entire reason for attending the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program was to learn the fundamentals of exploring new levels of innovation, acquire the skills to craft and implement unique and varied business models, and develop strategic initiatives to enhance and grow businesses in such a way as to acquire significant market share. I wanted to spearhead the design and development of a business, mold it, and grow it. And I am doing exactly that. Regardless of the outcome, having been given the opportunity to do just this is without a doubt, my largest success to date.

What is most surprising about being an entrepreneur?

The most surprising thing about being an entrepreneur is that nothing surprises me. As an entrepreneur, I constantly work to accurately analyze, prepare, assess and mitigate any and all risk, and in doing so, I have learned to diminished the elements of surprise and uncertainly. I know exactly what to expect, what is going to work, what is not, and how to respond effectively to each.

What was the most important lesson you learned in the Entrepreneurship Program?  

Entrepreneurs wear a multitude of hats! There has not been a day that has gone by since my first day with BrockTek where I haven’t been totally engaged in finances, brand management, website design, product strategy, business development, customer relations, human resources, and facilities maintenance. The issues may differ from one day to the next, but the scenario is always the same. More often than not, I find myself hanging up the phone after having a conversation with a multimillion-dollar company then heading to the kitchen and restrooms to ensure they are clean. The entrepreneur’s daily and weekly tasks are wide and varied and cover a very large spectrum. But, at the end of the day, it is very gratifying to see the accomplishments knowing full well that I am responsible for all that happens.

What impact has the Entrepreneurship Program had on your career or life?

The Entrepreneurship Program was the catalyst for where I am today. It sharpened my skillset, polished my presentations, and diversified my business acumen. The Program took everything I brought to the table and shaped it into a complete package that I use every day.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

You must absolutely strive to create a whole package in yourself. Being an entrepreneur is not just about having an idea or being an expert in a particular field. It is about having a highly diverse skillset in every aspect of business. It is about your attitude, your education, and your political and cultural acumen. It is about how you present yourself every day, in every situation, in every environment.

Entrepreneurs are unique individuals capable of presenting to large audiences at one moment and holding intimate one-on-one conversations with investors in another. They can effectively explain the business model, adequately address the specifics of the product or service offered, describe the market strategy, and address the financial performance of the past, present, and expectations of the future. And without a doubt, to be successful, you have to have it all. You do not have to be the leading subject matter expert, but you have to be well-versed and energized enough to effectively cover all the bases sufficiently.

Lastly, you have to be confident, charismatic, always willing to learn, and never willing to settle or give up.