Army Veteran Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture is the Forbes Book author Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale and Succeed in Your Business. This book and website (www.culturecodechampions.com) provides methods to self-implement a culture that will improve a company’s bottom line. The West Point Honor Graduate recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast, where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus and NASA’s woman pioneer Sandra Coleman.
Higgs is also the co-founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc. Established in 1987, Higgs designed offshore oil platforms and managed them through installation and startup. Along with two partners, Higgs managed to grow the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide. Second, third and fourth-generation leaders took the company to $2 billion in 2014. The distinguished 1974 graduate is also an Airborne Ranger and former commander of a combat engineer company.
What was your experience in the military?
I graduated West Point, Honor Graduate of Engineer Officers Basic Course and Ranger School. I am also a Graduate of Atomic Demolitions School, Airborne School and the Engineer Advanced Officer Course and a Combat Engineer Platoon Leader in the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. I also served as the Division’s Atomic Demolition Platoon Leader, as a Company Executive Officer and for two years as a Company Commander. I exited the Army after five years as a Captain.
Tell us about your transition from military to civilian life?
My prior company commander left the Army three years before me and was now in a small engineering firm in a pretty new industry designing offshore oil platforms. He loved it, thought I would and arranged for an interview. I was hired during a boom time in the oil industry. It was a steep learning curve, but my hard work and interest in doing any job set me up for success.
What is your business and what do you do?
With two partners we started Mustang Engineering to design offshore oil platforms and manage them through installation and startup. I’ve done engineering, purchasing, project/construction management and sales. Our company started by doing simple platforms in 100 feet of water and were on the cutting edge when the industry began doing “floating cities” in 5,000 feet of water 8 years later. We went from zero to one billion dollars in annual revenues based on a people first culture.
What are 3 things you learned in the military that you have applied to your business?
Cross-training to bust silos and create an efficient organization. Use team spirit to get everyone to perform at their highest level in order to not let each other down. Squeeze handoffs to “lean-out” execution and improve performance by 30%.
How have you used your success to send the ladder back down? (pay it forward)
We instituted a Young Guns program by year group to develop leaders of character at all levels. I wrote the book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business to reinforce what we were teaching in Young Guns and make it available worldwide.
Where can readers find you on social media?