The Business of Defense

GovCon entrepreneur explains why making his company a great place to work matters more than fast growth

CEO Lido Ramadan shares three ways Aminad Consulting maintains a values-based culture — one that intrinsically helps grow the small business’ work with DoD.

Lido Ramadan trusts that by putting people first, his company will continue to grow and be successful.

“We really want to ensure that we’re a place that genuinely cares for our people,” said Ramadan, president and CEO of Aminad Consulting, adding, “We feel like if we do that, and we stay true to our values, the rest will fall into place.”

Ramadan started Aminad in 2019, building on successes he learned from co-founding his first federal consulting business in 2003 and then working for a few others afterward too.

Those experiences “showed me the benefits of having a values-based culture and refined for me the thinking on the types of values that were really meaningful to me,” he said during a discussion for the Society of Defense Financial Management’s The Business of Defense series on Federal News Network.

Aminad is a strategy consultancy that focuses on helping federal organizations, mainly in the Defense Department, transform their operations in three areas: performance improvement, business strategy, and supply chain and acquisition.

Ramadan shared his values for the small business along with how he continues to maintain them and create an environment where his employees stay and focus on the mission of their federal customers.

Looking ahead for his business by looking back to his youth

“When starting Aminad, it was very clear to me that I needed to select values that meant something to me personally,” Ramadan said. In all, he identified six: kindness, determination, humility, generosity, intellectual curiosity and simplicity.

He credits his parents’ influence for many of the values. “A lot of the values — especially kindness, generosity, humility and determination — were taken specifically from the things that they showed me that I felt translated extremely well in a professional setting,” he said.

Ramadan also thought hard about a culture that could reflect the people Aminad hires.

He is in fact the last interview in the hiring process. Culture and the company’s values are all that Ramadan discusses during that final gut-check with potential new employees.

“We tick through the six company values. We have a conversation,” he shared. “I want to ensure that our candidates understand how important they are to us. I want to ensure that those values really mean something to them. And I want to ensure that they realize if it doesn’t mean something to them, it might not be the right place for them as well.”

Growing the business by expanding foothold in DoD

The value-based approach has proved successful in finding and retaining employees as well as keeping federal customers too. Why? Because employees want to be part of the business and so go “above and beyond for their clients because they care about where they are,” Ramadan said, adding that Aminad’s attrition is nearly zero.

“We never want to have too many people. We don’t want to have too few people either,” he said. “But talent acquisition and that front end has not been an issue for us.”

With fewer than 100 employees, Ramadan said the company will continue to pursue growth within DoD.

“We have a little bit of work right now at the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Health and Human Services,” he said. “But the predominance of our proactive business development is still within the defense space.”

3 ways to help employees thrive in values-based culture

Admittedly, creating a values-based culture takes work. Ramadan described it as “a constant effort.”

But he also detailed three tactics that his company takes to help keep its values front and center and simultaneously keep employees engaged:

  • Let people work where it makes sense for them to work. About half of Aminad’s staff works in the Washington, D.C., area. But close to 40 employees work in 10 cities across the country.

“For our onboarding, we fly all our new employees in,” Ramadan said. “Then twice a year, the whole company flies in for company events and company meetings.”

  • Be deliberate about maintaining culture in a remote environment. Thinking about how to create camaraderie and ensure that people continue to be part of a culture is something Ramadan and the leadership team think about — a lot.

It’s why Aminad hosts virtual events that aren’t just work meetings. We have monthly culture events, whether it be wine tasting, or cheese tasting, or other food and drink tasting — a lot of tastings,” he said with a laugh. “But we really invest in those events because they’re meaningful when you can’t have everyone together all the time.”

  • Take an apprenticeship approach to training. Managers reach out to employees at all levels, Ramadan said.

“It is about ensuring that we’re consistent in our reach-outs, consistently ensuring that we’re asking our employees how they’re feeling about their connections with us.” But beyond that, the aim is to provide training to employees no matter their level through mentors who are outside of talent management, he added.

Is it all just talk? It could be, but Ramadan doubles down about his desire to build a business that he called wonderful for its employees.

“We’re going to continue to grow,” he said. “If at any point that culture starts to crack, our people don’t seem happy, we’re not providing that level of quality, then we’re just going to pause. We’re not trying to hit artificial revenue targets. I’m not trying to grow to sell.”

To listen to the full discussion between Lido Ramadan, president and CEO of Aminad Consulting, and Rich Brady, CEO of SDFM, click the podcast play button below:

Discover more stories about how to thrive as a federal contractor. Find all episodes of The Business of Defense podcast.

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