Game Changers: Heather Pilot, president of Pilot Hill

As a business consulting firm for both Canadian and international companies, Pilot Hill specializes in connecting people and organizations in order to help them form strategic partnerships and business opportunities.

Pilot Hill’s main focus is on the defence and advanced manufacturing sectors. Pilot Hill is also the lead organizer of the Defence Conference & Exhibition. The exhibition held each year in London, Ontario, is considered to be one of the country’s top defence events. It brings together companies from across Canada and the United States. The Defence Conference & Exhibition has become an ideal forum for the exchange of ideas about the defence procurement space and it provides not only supply chain opportunities but B2B and B2G networking opportunities as well.

As president of Pilot Hill, Heather Pilot draws on her extensive business development and stakeholder relations experience to help defence companies built the partnerships and assistance they need to develop their business.

Heather Pilot

Heather Pilot

How did you start out in this industry and how has it brought you to where you are today? 

My deep appreciation of the defence sector began while at the London Economic Development Corp. Kongsberg Gruppen of Norway approached us to provide the business case for London as they were looking for a location in Canada.   Through working with them, I became aware of the significant cluster of defence-related companies we had in London (beyond GDLS-C) and was soon immersed in the sector.  

What is your role in your organization today?

As President of Pilot Hill Ltd. I produce and organize The Best Defence Conference in November each year and provide a range of consulting services to companies and organizations.  My varied experience in export development, stakeholder relations, and business development has provided me with a solid foundation in which to assist defence companies with their business development needs.

What was your most challenging moment?

The decision to give up a great job at a great organization to strike out on my own.

What was your a-ha moment?

I knew that if I did not pursue my passion for the defence industry and take the conference into the private sector, I would always look back with deep regret at the path not taken.

What drives me today is the opportunity to develop even more creative platforms for The Best Defence conference that will enhance the ability of companies to actually conduct business.

What is the one thing that has you are most fired up today?

Technologies of all kinds are profoundly changing the way we work, live and play.  The Technology Showcase is a new element to this year’s Best Defence conference which I hope becomes an established, must-see aspect of the conference.  I am amazed at the number of talented and creative companies that exist in Canada and I am only touching the tip of the iceberg.

What is the best advice you received?

Trust yourself.

What is the habit that contributes to your success?

I just keep moving ahead until I achieve the goal.  I don’t let obstacles stop me from finding a path forward.

What is your parting piece of advice?   

It is scary to leave behind a secure position to start a business.  That first year is an emotional rollercoaster but the ride is what makes it valuable whether you succeed or fail.

What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?

I only have to look right in my own backyard to see that GDLS-C embraces innovation throughout its entire corporate culture and acts as an innovation catalyst throughout its supply chain.   I really get excited when I meet a supplier that has gone from making simple commodity products to providing really creative solutions and developing their own IP.

How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?  

I see us filling a need by acting as a catalyst for strategic partnerships and bringing technology-driven innovators to the table.

 

What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

Artificial intelligence is being applied to manufacturing and the whole area of additive manufacturing will leave behind those companies that do not invest in technology.

Author: Nestor Arellano

Nestor Arellano is editor of Vanguard Magazine. Nestor is a seasoned journalist who has written extensively on defence and military industry issues as well as technology and business developments. He is also associate editor of Vanguard's sister publication, IT in Canada.

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