Honoring Women Who are Leading the Way in Central Florida
BARBARA STANKOWSKI | SPIRIT OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD WINNER
Barbara Stankowski entered into service with the U.S. Navy at a very interesting time – a time when women were not allowed to advance to active duty roles if they had children at home.
That eventually changed, but as her career continued forward she took note of the effect such stringent rules had on the service men and women she served with. “I became very interested in changing and challenging the way business is done,” she said.
She spent 28 years in service, eventually retiring as Captain, and then set her ambitions to an entrepreneurial path.
Stankowski began working for small, women-owned businesses providing government services and realized that wasn’t the path for her. When an opportunity presented in Orlando, she packed up her family and moved down state from Pensacola. She was 58 years old.
A few years later, she took full ownership of the company, “At the time, we were doing $1 million in business and had a handful of employees,” she said.
Today AMTIS, Inc., which provides professional and business processing services, leader development and training services to Department of Defense, federal and state agencies across the country and bills $21 million in revenue annually.
With more than 180 employees in 14 locations throughout the U.S. AMTIS has increased revenue each year since inception, and experienced explosive growth – 377 percent – in the past three years alone.
Stankowski is an intuitive businesswoman who looks for opportunities to move the needle – and the dialogue about women in business – to the next level. She credits some of the company’s initial success to the opportunity afforded by designations as a disabled, veteran-owned, and women-owned small business, noting that these did “provide opportunities to deal with a smaller competitive market for some selected procurements.”
As AMTIS expanded, those opportunities seemed to shrink, so having the right team in place, along with a vision for growth, was important. And, it paid off.
In 2013, the company was awarded a five-year,
$18.5 million competitive contract through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Stankowski is quick to point out that “having the correct staff in place to support customer needs” and to “never limit focus” as the best approaches to attracting business.
Thinking back to her years in the military, Stankowski is reminded of one of her favorite mentors, Rear Admiral Grace Mary Hopper – a brilliant mathematician and developer of COBOL, one of the first high-level computer programming languages.
Hopper enlisted into the Naval Reserves during WWII and remained until she was 81, after being allowed to stay on active duty by special approval from Congress. She typified the ‘never too late’ mindset,’ said Stankoswki, “and I’m reminded every day that I have more to do.”
She also notes that providing guidance and support to other women coming up through the workforce is as necessary as it is important, and she spends much of her free time mentoring through the Small Business Association’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which AMTIS received assistance from in the early days of start up.
Her trajectory still clearly set in the forward motion mode, Stankoswski is optimistic about the future of all women in business, and particularly, in the mission of AMTIS: to help government clients achieve their very important missions and the “joy of hiring passionate, dedicated professionals to assist me on this journey.”