News & Insights

Washington Business Journal – In the Spotlight: Darla Moon

PGI CFO Darla Moon was recently featured in the Washington Business Journal. Read her interview below.

Darla Moon joined the Chantilly security and intelligence contractor from ManTech International Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., where she helped direct business operations.darla-moon

One thing you wish everyone knew about your job? Since I’ve only been in the job with Patriot Group International for five days, I’m still learning where the kitchen is and getting to know the team. However, there’s a stereotype that when it comes to CFOs, we’re very numbers driven and everything is only about the bottom line. I wish that everyone, including my co-workers at PGI, knew that for CFOs, it’s not necessarily just the financial aspects of a company that are important. It’s about the company too — knowing what it stands for, what it works toward and supporting that mission and vision.

If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be? It would be great to trade places with Oprah. She came from meager beginnings and has created an amazing, inspirational enterprise. Also, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to say, “And you get a car. And you get a car. And you get a trip. And you…” and actually be able to do it!

What’s your best habit as a leader? To quote Marillyn Hewson, I’m a constant “student of leadership,” but I think I’ve worked hard at being a good communicator. For me it’s important to be clear, be consistent and communicate regularly with those around me. This precludes incorrect assumptions and miscommunication. Otherwise, time is wasted for the entire team, which can lead to frustration and misdirection.

What’s your worst habit as a leader? I can be impatient at times when wanting things to fall in place faster than what is practical. Sometimes the best course of action is to be persistent without intensity.

What’s been the most dangerous situation you’ve been in? When my daughter was born, she decided to come a little early and make a big entrance into the world. When I had a contraction, the baby’s monitor would lose her heartbeat. Although it was a scary experience, in the end, my little 4.6-pound “Peanut” arrived healthy and happy. Today, she’s a thriving 13-year-old.

Who you’d choose to lead your personal security force: My immediate reaction is to say my dad. With more than 30 years of military service, he’s experienced and capable. As a matter of course, I have a huge respect for the men and women in our armed forces. They are the best of the best. If time permitted, I would seek experienced counsel and vet the best candidates.

First thing you’d change as president of the United States: This is easy. I would seek out every opportunity to eliminate the divisiveness that is so pervasive in our country. This includes discord along all social and economic lines — especially religious, racial, gender, economic and political positions. As for women’s equality, I would want to teach women everywhere that to achieve equality in the workplace, we have to work hard, have a voice and make sure we’re counted. Sending out a strong message like that has power of its own. It’s all about striving for what you want.

Your worst personal budgeting sin: For any “Star Trek” fans, I quote Spock. “Wanting is a better feeling than having; it is not logical but often true.” I need to remind myself of that whenever I feel like buying something I don’t really need. Every once in a while, I have that impulse to buy that gorgeous purse or outfit, and have to remind myself that I have a budget for a reason.

Favorite vacation spot: I’m not picky. I’m a pretty big ocean fan, but also find fun on a nice ski slope. I think what makes a great vacation spot is more about people than location. If I can hear my daughter laugh, if I’m having a great, lighthearted conversation with cheerful people and if there’s some awesome food and drinks, I’m happy.

Which businessperson would you most like to dine with? Warren Buffett. I would really like to ask a couple of questions of his personal staff. That said, I would like to put him to work. What do you, Warren Buffett, see as Patriot Group’s investment potential? Provide details.

What word or phrase do you most overuse?“We’ll get there.” It’s one of those statements that should have a short lifespan. On occasion, I’ve found myself saying “we’ll get there” concerning the same topic for over a year. Now, I catch myself and put a due date on my calendar so I know when we need to “be there.” It keeps me accountable.

What’s one thing you can’t live a day without? One? How do you choose one? My daughter is my immediate response. From a business perspective, job satisfaction that comes from working with a terrific team, unity of effort, strong values and superior performance. OK, and my phone.

What’s one thing you’re glad your employer didn’t know about you before you were hired? I’m glad they didn’t know — or at least I don’t think they knew — that I was excited but a little nervous about meeting the challenges of my position as I prepared for my start date. The company has been growing quickly enough to make it onto Inc. 5000’s list of fastest-growing private companies for three years in a row. I’m over the initial nerves now, and I’m ready to roll.

Best lesson from a mentor: My father instilled in me that I am a force to be reckoned with in my own right. He always taught me that there is no one to compete with but myself. It’s been such an important lesson for me because I do work in a male-dominated industry. Early in my career, I was frustrated when I compared how I wanted to conduct business to how those around me did. I had to remind myself of my dad’s advice — don’t try to race someone else’s race. To me, that means find your voice, your platform, your vision. Then strive to be true to that every day, while maintaining high expectations of yourself.

Which D.C.-area business leader do you most admire? A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of attending a luncheon that Marillyn Hewson, CEO of Lockheed Martin, attended. She was generous with her thoughts and ideas, she was inspiring and she was genuine. She has encountered challenges in her role. Her humble background and competitive spirit make her someone to watch and admire.

What is one thing about which you are consistently dishonest with yourself? I like to work. I like the feeling of accomplishment and I like knowing that I contribute to making a difference. However, I regularly tell myself that I don’t work too much and that I won’t check my email after a certain time at night. I’m realizing that it’s one of the biggest ways I’m dishonest with myself. I could put the phone or laptop away more often. When I’m breaking out the laptop at my daughter’s soccer game, I’m probably going a little overboard. I’m trying to focus on achieving a better work-life balance now.

See the original interview on the Washington Business Journal website.