By Jared Abazia
It was an honor to interview Mike Grochol, CEO of IronEagleX, to learn more about him and his company. Mike is a very straightforward and genuine person, which provided a refreshing perspective of how a CEO should represent themselves. I asked about his background, ascent to CEO, and likes and dislikes of the position. I then asked about IronEagleX: its operations, uniqueness, importance, national security influences, critiques, geographical relevance, and future. His responses were succinct yet comprehensive, providing a clear window into his life and work.
Mike joined the military straight from high school after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He had been interested in technology since childhood and was able to transition his military experience into running his own tech company. Grochol has now been in the national security field for over 20 years. He became the CEO of IronEagleX through his relationship with funders, as he was able to negotiate a leveraged buyout to gain control of the business. While he is proud to have achieved his dream job from childhood, he grapples with the fact that sometimes the best interest of his company may not be aligned with the best interest of individual employees.
IronEagleX itself is a technology services company. The government goes to them with a problem, constraints, and white space to build out exquisite solutions to those particular problems. They achieve this by hiring the best people they can for the particular problem. The ownership and leadership themselves also come from the community they serve, highlighting a personal commitment to excellence. They simply aren’t satisfied with “good enough,” and want to build things that impress the customer. Their obsessive nature with this goal has separated them from their competitors, who are sometimes just applying the bare minimum. CEO Mike Grochol believes it is of the utmost importance to bolster national security, which not only protects the capability of our functional democracy, but also benefits and advances our national interests worldwide.
Mike welcomes critiques, however. He believes there is a significant amount of value in having a healthy exchange of ideas with people, as it is part of our democracy. There are people on the other end of every exchange, and he believes that all people naturally desire to have a positive impact on the world around them. As for the impact of his own company, Mike hopes to continue to support customers and the mission of national security in the most cost effective and competitive way possible utilizing geography. He believes that geospatial capabilities will continue to have a major impact, synthesizing tens of millions of pieces of information across a plethora of data sets. To Grochol, geography and geospatial capabilities writ large are the acknowledgment that especially in today’s world, the where and when something happens, those spatial and temporal elements, are crucial. Where and when things happen are ubiquitous – from high technology to marketing to farming to climate change to national security – geography plays a role.
Ultimately, IronEagleX aims to keep having a positive impact on national security, trying to do right by their customers, and supporting the mission of national security in the most cost effective and most competitive way possible. Grochol aims to foster a country where people can disagree, by providing spaces for democracy to exist, with better and better solutions at more and more cost-effective price points.
As an aside, IronEagleX is also offering research assistant positions to incentivize a next generation workforce in national security and technology. Targeting current STEM students at any accredited college or university, the program will start in January 2024 and run through December 2024. Students must be eligible for a security clearance, which entails having a clean criminal and financial background as well as U.S. citizenship. This is a great opportunity for students who are pursuing career paths in data, software, or platform engineering or as a data scientist or analyst. Research assistants will be paid $20 per hour and have an expected time commitment of 10-20 hours per week.