Female Entrepreneur Reflects on Success in Male-Dominated Tech Industry
Originally published in the Baltimore Times
Women’s History Month has allowed Tonya Buckner time to reflect on her successful business, the role of her parents including her father who raised five children alone, and her faith.
Buckner owns and operates Buckner Management & Technology, Inc., (BucknerMT), a Bowie-based management and technology consulting firm that provides cybersecurity, information technology infrastructure, information technology integrated management, and supply chain management solutions to public and private sector businesses.
“Often times opportunity is created by a crisis, thus the reason for the BucknerMT formation,” Buckner said, in explaining how she started her business.
“My husband, Michael, was an employee of a federal contractor supporting a Department of Defense contract which was up for re-compete.
“Due to the uncertainty of what the future held, employees were leaving at a mass rate and, in order to retain him and his expertise, the contractor offered him more money and an opportunity to become a 1099 employee,” Buckner said.
Previously, she enjoyed a 25-year career with the U.S. Army, ExxonMobile Corp., Booz Allen Hamilton and the federal government as a subject matter expert in information technology and supply chain management.
Now, in her role as CEO, Buckner is responsible for enriching shareholders by providing the vision, leadership, and strategy needed to grow her business. She also leads her firm’s cyber business segment, which consists of security governance and supply chain risk management.
Buckner attributes much of her success to her parents and to God.
“My mother provided the foundation to succeed, however, her passing did not allow me the opportunity to receive the lessons, guidance and unconditional love that mothers provide,” Buckner said. “But God said, this is not where my story would end. God blessed me with many incredible women to fill my mother’s shoes.”
Buckner said she would be remiss if she didn’t acknowledge her father, who “had the strength and courage to raise five kids alone after my mom’s passing.”
Since 2007, BucknerMT has supported the DOD’s Defense Information Systems Agency by providing engineering, integration and sustainable solutions to protect its critical military infrastructure, platforms, and data.
“The breadth of my experience in governance and risk management, and program management, combined with my solid grasp of complex information technology and supply chain management issues, positions me to successfully support my clients,” Buckner said. “I have deep domain knowledge and experience in the areas of government contracting, financial management, marketing, sales and customer service, communication and negotiation, leadership, project management and planning, delegation and time management, problem-solving, and networking all which are critical to running a business.”
While she has done well, Buckner says women remain scarce in the IT sector.
“While the technology industry is growing at an exponential rate, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented,” said Buckner who also is a participant in the Women President Education Organization Sage Advice Program. “Clearly progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go to achieve gender and racial parity in technology.”
With additional knowledge and skills from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, BucknerMT
recently expanded its support to commercial organizations and the company is experiencing rapid growth in revenue and contracts.
“It was the business and leadership skills learned through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program that lead to our ability to expand our business to the commercial sector,” she said. “Our growth opportunity involved expanding the Cybersecurity, IT Infrastructure, IT Integrated Management, and Supply Chain Management solutions we were providing to the DoD to other federal agencies, state and local government, as well as commercial organizations. We accomplished this goal prior to graduating from the program.”
BucknerMT offers mentoring programs, personal development, and workforce diversity.
“As a woman in technology, I find that it is still a male-dominated industry. Often, I am one of the few women in the room and innovation is led by my male counterparts,” she said. “It is important to remember that there is competitive strength through diversity. It enhances capacity for innovation. We need to continue to encourage women participation, urge leadership support, improve managerial relationships, and implement programs that hold companies accountable.”
Buckner also volunteers by serving on the Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center Infectious Disease Advisory Board.