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Washington Technology highlights Metronome!

"How one small business puts culture first and wins. Metronome parlays employee-focus into customer success"

By Mark Hoover

Dec 09, 2013

To have a successful business, you’ve got to have your finger on the company’s pulse at all times. That’s exactly what Jennifer and Virgil Virga have done with their company, Metronome, and having just grown by 700 percent in the past year, they’re doing something right.

Founded in 2011, Metronome is a women-owned small business that focuses on IT and intelligence services, catering mainly to the intelligence community. Some of the company’s major customers include the DIA, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Social Security Administration. For the Virgas, their desire to start a company happened from working at a fun and successful firm called SGIS where the employees loved what they did. “I was the first employee of this past company, and we grew to 600 employees in eight years,” said Metronome COO Virgil Virga. Being the first employee at this company, Virga was involved in much of the company’s growth as well as the creation of its culture, he said.

It was here that he realized how important culture is to a company’s health. When it was announced that SGIS was going to be acquired, people walked around the halls crying because they loved their jobs so much, Virga said. This is something that Virga and his wife have worked hard to instill in Metronome. To say that the couple cares about their company is an understatement. Next to their children, their company is everything.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better than to be able to do this hand-in-hand with my wife,” Virga said. Metronome had humble beginnings in the basement of the Virgas’ Ashburn, Va., home. Times were tough and the two needed to make use of every resource they had available. Their first employee who wasn't working on-site with a customer spent nine months with them in that basement, Virga said. “Shared spaces were a help to us when we were having meetings with customers and new employees,” Virga said. Once they started making enough money they moved out of the basement and into an office building.

As for their projects, Metronome is currently part of a counterintelligence project that helps identify and investigate threats. Since the work is with an intelligence customer, Virga wasn’t able to say much, but they are helping the warfighter by providing them in intelligence in real time.

Additionally, Metronome is helping the Defense Threat Reduction Agency build an enterprise cloud. While they’ve been growing, the Virgas have focused intensely on company culture. “For us, culture for us trumps everything,” Virga said. And it’s their culture that is immediately apparent, even in their company’s name. Being avid music fans, they wanted to incorporate music into their company, and settled on the name Metronome. With so many companies in the government contracting market having names that are acronyms, having a name like Metronome goes a long way, Virga said.

Plus, the name coincides with their philosophy of keeping a finger on the pulse of their company. They created the tagline, “keeping projects pulsing” to support this, as well. Instead of referring to the company’s “pipeline,” Metronome calls it a “playlist,” and conference rooms have music related names. One is the “treble clef” conference room.

If you walk into Metronome’s office in Herndon, Va., you’ll notice that there’s music playing. There is always music playing, Virga said; it complements the many signed and framed music posters that line the walls. If you look at the company’s employees, you might mistake Metronome for a sports advertising or marketing firm, Virga said. At 37, he’s one of the oldest of the 60 plus employees there.

Along with its atmosphere, Metronome focuses deeply on its employees. The company gives “pulse” awards whenever an employee does something positive that’s directly related to one of Metronome’s core values: passion, improving, teammates, mission and celebrating success, Virga said.

If an employee stays at work until 8:00pm helping their customer, the award will say specifically what they did, Virga said. “You still have to have a focus and be strategic, but things will fall into place a lot easier if people love what they’re doing,” Virga said.

The signs of success are more than posters and plaques. Metronome will be moving its offices to Fair Lakes area of Northern Virginia around February to have more space—a lot more space. The new office will be about five times the size of their current office, and the company expects to grow into it very quickly.

The fiscal climate isn’t easy right now, and companies across the board are feeling it, but Metronome doesn’t talk about that day to day, Virga said. He sees that kind of talk as pointless because it is out of their control. Going forward, “the challenge is just doing all we can to make sure our company and our culture is strong, and that we’re training everybody and keeping them up to speed. We can only control us,” Virga said.

May 2017 | Fairfax, Virginia

Make Lemonade

By Lauren MacPherson

One of Metronome’s rays of sunshine, Lauren MacPherson, shares some of her Tips and Tricks for Staying Positive at Work.

Trust me, I get it: your job is tough, your coworkers can be draining, and it’s not always easy to be the shining beacon of positivity in the office. But what if turning that frown upside down could not only improve your day-to-day, but make you more successful in the long-term? Well, CNN has reported just that! Citing a recent study titled ‘Does Happiness Promote Career Success’ out of the University of California, Riverside, “professors concluded that ‘happy people’ are more satisfied with their jobs and report having greater autonomy in their duties.”1 So, what can you do to turn those lemons into lemonade? Check out a few of our tips and tricks for staying positive in the workplace!

1. Build Relationships
Sure, you may have a nagging manager or a difficult teammate, but don’t let that stop you from getting to know the people you work with – after all, you’re with them for 40+ hours a week. Take the time to socialize a little and build rapport with people that work in your building – especially the positive ones! A great way to break the ice is by offering to teach someone a new skill, or by taking the time to learn something that is out of your comfort zone.

2. Take a break and get moving!
It’s easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of your day-to-day responsibilities, but don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! Sometimes you might only have time for a five-minute day-dreaming session (or if you work at Metronome HQ, a quick ping-pong match). Make sure you give yourself the occasional mental break so that you can refocus. As the weather warms up, take the opportunity to go for a short walk outside – Vitamin D can work wonders to brighten up your day!

3. Find your inner HGTV guru
Don’t underestimate the power of your surroundings’ ability to influence your mood! Take some time to decorate your work space with things that motivate you or make you happy. For some this might mean a strategically placed motivational quote, for others a framed family photo. Whatever it is, keep in mind that a clean and organized desk or office can positively impact both your productivity and positivity!

4. Follow the “Golden Rule”
Remember what you learned when you were young. Treat others the way you want to be treated! Try to do a good deed or a random act of kindness every day. This could be as simple as saying hello to a stranger in the hallway, or pausing to hold the door for the person behind you – a little can go a long way! If you’re interested in making a bigger impact, offer to help a coworker with a task or research philanthropy opportunities within your workplace.

5. Attitude is everything… SMILE!
Your energy is contagious – what kind of vibes are you spreading? The power of positive thought is, well, powerful! When in doubt, try to see the glass half full. Don’t sweat the small stuff and be sure to reward yourself for a job well done. If that’s still not turning things around, SMILE! Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it. And you might find that after a while those pearly whites are showing all on their own! So, what are YOU doing to be the spark of positivity in your workplace?

1 http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/11/business/the-science-behind-positive-thinking/

Keeping Projects Pulsing