Stephen Gillotte ('00)
CEO, Reinventing Geospatial, Inc. (RGi)
Class of ‘00
I started my technology career in the 3rd grade when I found the GW Basic interpreter and taught myself how to program. Fifteen years later, I landed at Virginia Tech as a computer science major. After stints with large corporate organizations, and on my 30th birthday, I founded my first company, Reinventing Geospatial, Inc. (RGi). Happy birthday to me!
I became an entrepreneur and started RGi because I knew I could have a bigger impact on national security. I designed “reinventing” to be a bold statement about my company, with the goal of driving RGi’ers to do better, to be better, by reinventing how we continue to achieve dominance over our adversaries. To me, reinventing means we must continually strive to do better through innovation, expediency of delivery, and efficiencies. I never accept the status quo as a limiter.
As RGi’s CEO, I take my role as strategist, leader, and mentor very seriously. I care about the people of RGi, their families, and their well-being just as much as I care about the important work we do. At times running a growing business can be consuming, which is why I also take my personal passions very seriously, including sailing, cycling, skiing, and cooking in a southern Italian style.
How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’...
The department gave me a solid technology baseline to build upon, and then helped me hone my development and design skills. Interestingly, the department also taught me to continuously seek out knowledge, which is something I still do today. I appreciate that I was also able to focus on interdisciplinary skills, such as public speaking and my ability to communicate technology information to the outside world effectively.
Being a Virginia Tech alumnus means...
As a Virginia Tech alum and business owner, I’m helping to drive Virginia’s talent workforce into the future. I started an internship program very early on within RGi – primarily with Virginia Tech students – in order to enhance what students learn in the classroom with real-world experience. Because Virginia Tech is such a leader in the software space, this program is my opportunity to drive home what I had, and build it further. We have since expanded the program to include several other universities and have graduated more than 60 students. It’s our way of helping students while contributing to the large-scale software and technology growth we’re seeing across the state.
My fondest memory of my time in the department is...
I have to give credit to Dr. Nance and Dr. Henry, who encouraged me to think differently. That’s what the “reinventing” in Reinventing Geospatial is all about! They had a way of presenting me with problems and challenging the way I thought about solutions. This was the first time I realized that the straight path to an answer wasn’t always the best path to an answer.
The activity I miss doing most in quarantine is…
TRAVEL! Traveling the world and experiencing new cultures is something I have missed deeply this past year. I enjoy interacting with people who have new ideas and learning from how I sense the world around me. I can’t wait to get back to it.
But, in other news…I now have a garden, so I guess that is kind of cool.
Giving back is hugely important to me because…
I come from a family that values giving back, and so I’ve placed a great deal of my personal focus on community activism in the areas of food and education, which so often go together – you can’t learn while you’re hungry, right? I also really enjoy being a mentor to several startup technology CEO’s. If I can help increase their odds of being successful, I feel like I’m making a positive impact.