Ken Cone, CTO at Radeus Labs

By August 28, 2015 No Comments

Give us a quick introduction to yourself: 

I was born in Texas and raised in Kodiak Island, Alaska. My bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering was obtained at LeTourneau University, and my Electrical Engineering graduate work was performed at the University of Texas in Tyler. I worked for Vertex Communications (bought by General Dynamics in 2004) from 1992 to 2014 and held various design engineering and management roles. In early 2014, I moved to San Diego as CTO for Radeus Labs, Inc. and mid-2015, my business partner and I bought the company.

Describe the path you took to landing the role you currently play at your company.: 

At first, I was an R&D Engineer, designing single board computers and writing embedded firmware using both VHDL and a real-time operating system from Forth, Inc. Shortly after I was promoted to Sr. Engineer, I became the manager of the Design and Development Engineering department. Later in my career I was the Continuous Improvement Manager, Materials Manager and last, was Operations Manager for the Tactical Products Group.

What would you say your greatest challenges were before you joined 7CTOs?: 

When I came to San Diego, I had to develop a new network. The inter-personal trust I had at my previous company needed to be developed with each new person. At first I had nobody to confide in, no peers who would criticize my ideas or actions.

At the same time, I needed to evaluate our strategies and processes through the whole product life cycle, from ideation to end of life support. We were a small business, pursuing AS9100 certification, developing our own embedded products, providing service & support while running a manufacturing line producing quality products. I was hired as CTO, but was also acting CEO for a time and had to improve not just Engineering, but Operations as well.  
I needed peers to evaluate me so that I could grow to fill my new role well.

Did your membership in 7CTOs have a direct impact on these challenges?: 

Absolutely! Immediately upon joining, I was paired with a facilitator who performed some one-on-one training so that I could effectively join a forum in progress. I was granted immediate trust in this forum and integrated in quickly. From the first meeting, I was able to discuss challenges / opportunities present not just in my work life, but also in my personal and family life.

The CTOs in my forum are experienced yet agile, incisive and encouraging, and they have become my brothers.

At Radeus Labs, I have based several training sessions on concepts learned from or discussed with the other CTOs. These people understood the inter-personal and political challenges I was facing in my new role as CTO. They were supportive of me, but also asked critical questions, and had no qualms about exposing root causes no matter how uncomfortable that made any of us feel.

Because of my colleagues at 7CTOs, there were many challenges that I handled better and more opportunities that I was able to capitalize on than I can share here. However, one specific impact or result my forum / team / CTO family had on a challenge was this: Had I not had their advice and constructive (and sometimes hard) criticisms, I do not believe we would have been successful in the purchase of the company I am now part owner of.

What do you love most about being part of the 7CTOs community and forums?: 

I love the camaraderie!

I enjoy hearing how each member in our small confidential forum is rising to challenges and succeeding in the various areas of their work, family and personal lives. I enjoy sharing the same, which just wouldn’t be possible without the confidentiality and the trust we have. 
We get a lot _done_ in each forum meeting.

What do you hope to accomplish over the next 6 to 12 months?: 

At Radeus Labs, I hope to have our work culture grown to become more of a learning organization, with open and honest communication and producing leaders in every area of the facility. We’ve recently launched two new product lines in adjacent markets, and these should be providing a large percent of our revenues in the next 12 months. I’ve introduced several tools (Lean and otherwise) and hope that our associates will have a specific level of proficiency in each related tool. Of course, this is all stated very generally here; we have SMART goals for each of the above items internal to the company.

In my family life, my goals are to help our children integrate well into San Diego, to develop our new local set of friends and spend as much time as I can with my wife of 18 years (Angie) and our six children (before they leave home.)
Last, in my personal life I hope to continue my professional growth and development. I am sure that 7CTOs will continue to be a key contributor to success in each of these areas!

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