P Newhouse

Phyllis Winchester Newhouse
CEO
Xtreme Solutions, Inc.
Founded: 2002

Protecting a nation

For military veteran Phyllis Newhouse, success is the only option when fighting cyber threats.

As the youngest child in a family of modest means, Phyllis Newhouse relied on hard work, ethics, her love of technology and a desire to make a difference to become recognized as one of the top leaders in the technology industry.

From her days as a US Army officer to her time at the Pentagon, Newhouse, a service-disabled veteran, has been at the forefront of developing and improving computer technologies for defense and homeland security. As CEO of Xtreme Solutions, an information technology services provider, she is passionate about helping its clients, both federal and commercial, by offering state-of-the art cybersecurity and forensic analysis expertise.

Newhouse’s path from working for the government to working with the government began with establishing the Cyber Espionage Task Force at the Pentagon. The skills she learned from her 22 years of service resulted in Xtreme Solutions.

“The military is five years ahead of the current trends in the market, so when I left the Pentagon I thought, ‘I’ve already done this kind of work,’” she says. “Why not pursue a cybersecurity start-up?”

The Pentagon asked her to come back as a senior-level advisor, but she was determined to follow through with her plans for Xtreme Solutions. Having spent her entire career in the military, Newhouse had no commercial credit history or assets. She struggled to finance the company’s initial start-up. In classic entrepreneurial fashion, Newhouse soldiered on and eventually secured funding from a small credit facility that enabled the company to take on its first few clients.

“My reason for starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur was so compelling that failure was simply not an option,” Newhouse says. “The idea that fueled me to start my business drives me to get up and go to work every day — that idea of continuing to serve. Our mission is to fight cybercrimes, attacks and to protect our nation.”

As an entrepreneur, she has faced both physical and emotional challenges. And veterans and entrepreneurs, she says, are comfortable with being uncomfortable — a valuable quality for building a high growth company.

“I have learned to be incredibly flexible and trustworthy with my team, be accountable to make difficult decisions under pressure and exhibit strong organizational commitment always,” Newhouse explains. “As a leader, I think by taking on this leap of faith to start a business and scale, I have two of the most distinct qualities that entrepreneurs and service members share, and that’s discipline and concentration. In scaling a business, I pride myself on the mindset of ‘mission focus.’ ” Newhouse believes that a big part of her success, and that of Xtreme Solutions, is the ability to inspire people beyond the narrow confines of their jobs. She tells her employees that the work they’re doing for Xtreme Solutions “impacts America.” Given that lives are often at stake when handling cyber threats, especially in the defense arena, Newhouse emphasizes the higher purpose of the company: protecting the nation, saving lives and increasing homeland security.

Thanks to her military background, Newhouse remains laser-focused on the company’s mission, which the employees share with her. Currently, Xtreme Solutions has employees in 42 states, and 40% of the workforce has a military background.

When asked what makes her successful, Newhouse says, “Understanding my own leadership ability has created success.” This includes putting together a great team, holding the team accountable, and holding herself accountable to Xtreme Solutions. Newhouse is heavily involved in supporting veterans and maintains a passion for supporting homeless veterans in Atlanta. “I didn’t realize what is going on with our veteran population,” she says. “This is a community forgotten about, and it totally broke my heart.

“We started a five year plan to help stop the cycle of homelessness for veterans in the metro Atlanta communities,” she says. “These vets don’t need sympathy; they needed a solution. My employees didn’t just write a check. They made a commitment, and that made the program successful.”

Newhouse also advocates for Women Veterans of Social Justice, whose goal is to recognize the challenges and barriers faced by today’s women in the military and veterans. Some women veterans, she says, are not allowed to use Veterans Affairs resources because of their specific discharge. “I didn’t experience what these women went through, but I could be a voice, so I went to Congress to fight for those women,” Newhouse says.

“Veterans aren’t a charity; they’re an investment,” she says. “And part of my commitment is to be a part of the philanthropic community that will support the 21 million men and women who put their lives on the line for this country.”

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