Kelly Hoggan brings over three decades of industry experience in aviation security, operations, and management to his role as Principle of H4 Solutions, the transportation consulting company he founded in 2016. H4 Solutions delivers unmatched experience and innovative industry insights to those who seek security solutions across the transportation sectors.
Based in Washington D.C., Kelly Hoggan has been exposed to the aviation industry throughout his entire life. Being raised by parents who both worked in the Federal government in positions of national security, Kelly’s interest in aviation systems and infrastructure were piqued at an early age. His career path in the aviation industry began in 1987, when he started working as a ramp serviceman. Throughout the following years, Kelly Hoggan continued to advance in his career and held various roles with United Airlines, ultimately ending his tenure as the Director of Customer Service Operations. After working at United Airlines, Kelly transitioned into the role of Director of Customer Service with Air Canada, where he also held roles as the Master Blackbelt for Operations.
In 2004, Kelly Hoggan began an 11+ year tenure working for the Transportation Security Administration, ultimately leading to his role as Assistant Administrator for Screening Operations. During his time working with the TSA, Kelly developed a thorough understanding of operating standards, checkpoint/baggage facility design, and staffing deployment. He played a key role in the development and implementation of the TSA Pre✓® program, led the TSA’s Office of Global Strategies, and served as the Senior US Aviation Security Expert at ICAO. As the chief management official responsible for TSA’s security operations, Kelly managed all security programs related to over 450 airports across the nation and served as TSA’s chief technical expert on airport operations, programs, activities, and screening technologies.
Kelly Hoggan graduated from Strayer University with a B.S. degree in Business Administration in 1994. Since then, he continued his education and studies through a series of certifications, including certifications from the Federal Executive Institute, Federal Senior Executive Service, UVA’s Darden School of Business, and USC’s Center for Organizational Effectiveness. Additionally, Kelly Hoggan is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt.
Our Interview With Kelly Hoggan
What’s the most important thing we should know about you?
Kelly Hoggan: That I consider myself a citizen of the world. For starters, I had the good fortune to grow up and live overseas for a time as a child, and I continued living and working overseas for long stretches as an adult. Currently, I travel extensively internationally for both business and pleasure. I think the fact I’ve lived and worked both in the U.S. and overseas has given me a greater insight into the wants, needs, and desires of my clients. At the same time, I’m confident in saying that I also deeply appreciate my home country and am a proud American.
Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.
Kelly Hoggan: There’s an old saying that success has a thousand fathers, while failure is an orphan. John F. Kennedy, after the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba in 1961 said a variation of this: “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” Certainly, that CIA operation, which the young president had green-lighted, was a colossal failure and it could have led to the end of his presidency, but Kennedy overcame it and learned from it and literally shot for the moon in all his endeavors afterward.
Failing or being defeated at something is a natural consequence of trying at something, and we’re all fated to experience the bitter sting of failure in our lives at one point or another. Think about Thomas Edison, who failed at creating the lightbulb 999 times before he hit on the right engineering on attempt number 1,000. Failing at something can make you feel like the loneliest, most miserable person alive, as I’m sure it did Edison. But you can learn from your failures, and sometimes you’ll learn more from failing than from succeeding, though it might be painful to you on many levels to do so.
Consider the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus, who said: “It is not the event, but what you do with it that matters.” Once it’s over, how do you react and learn from that event, including failing miserably at something? Whenever I’m considering doing something which comes with the possibility of failure, I keep two quotes in mind, the first from the great Irish novelist and playwright, Samuel Beckett:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. Try again. Fail again. Fail BETTER.”
The second quote comes from perhaps the world’s greatest salesman, who was also one of the greatest motivational speakers I’ve ever come across, Zig Ziglar:
“Sometimes, adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful.”
Don’t be afraid to fail. If you fail, you fail. But what you do after that failure is what will define you and determine your ultimate success, not the temporary setbacks you might encounter on the path to success.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Kelly Hoggan: Having both of my children attend university. One has already graduated, and the other will graduate this upcoming spring. When you see your children experience success, such as going to and then graduating from college, the feelings you have as a parent are simply indescribable.
What did you waste the most time on when you were first starting your career?
Kelly Hoggan: I spent far too much time sweating all the small details and superfluous things that, in the end, amounted to nothing at all and had absolutely no effect on the ultimate outcome of what I’d been trying to achieve. And I did this quite often at first. None of that obsessing and over-analyzing and strategizing and “waiting-for-one-hundred percent-of-the-information-to-come-in-before-deciding” fruitless wheel-spinning I engaged in made a bit of difference to my success, I found. My, what I could have done with all that time I wasted.
Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.
Kelly Hoggan: My smartphone. I’m only half-joking when I say this: What did we do before cellular phones and smartphones came into existence? I mean, I use my smartphone all day for phone calls, texting, emails, apps and web-based uses, including remote printing, scheduling, “face timing” and video conferencing. The smartphone allows me to increase my productivity to levels I don’t think would have been possible without it. I spend quite a bit of time on the road, traveling to meet with clients and to work on their needs. A high-quality, feature-packed smartphone allows me to multitask while doing this to a degree I don’t think even visionary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs would have thought possible when he publicly introduced the first iPhone back in 2007.
What is your favorite hobby and why?
Kelly Hoggan: Why, the greatest game in the world: Golf. I think it allows you to challenge yourself and to play a game within a game, as a matter of fact. Golf is a very cerebral sport, but at the same time, it requires a great deal of interaction with your fellow players. People watching the pros play it on TV often don’t see that the golfer on the screen is but part of a group of players, all of whom teed off at the same time and who are playing with and against each other. And they do quite a lot of talking with each other and those around them, including fans in the gallery, while walking from hole to hole. Pro golfers’ level of concentration when it’s “money time” and they need to sink a 20-foot putt, say, is otherworldly. And then they can turn it right back off and saunter on to the next hole or putting green while appearing not to have a care in the world.
To me, golf affords both the opportunity for fun with friends while at the same time giving you an unparalleled chance to network with business associates. Because of its nature and the way it’s played out on an often-vast course, it also delivers a chance to gain some quality time with a son or daughter, as you both learn the game’s nuances and its deeper meanings. Especially when it comes to failure and success.
What excited you the most about your industry right now?
Kelly Hoggan: The opportunity for exponential technological advancements. As our society continues to discover new opportunities in computing and analysis, I think there’s a great potential for an exponential leap forward in my line of work as well as an opportunity to offer to the public an array of services and improvements not seen at any time in the past.
What concerns you most about your industry right now?
Kelly Hoggan: My biggest worry is my industry may not see or embrace these opportunities either quickly or readily enough and, as a consequence, will fail to advance and innovate at the speeds made available by current developments and improvements in technology and our understanding of just how to integrate those technologies for the benefit of all concerned.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Kelly Hoggan: Taking a new job in a foreign country with a company which was going through an industry and corporate transition, all while I had a young family. That was a leap of faith few fathers and husbands would readily chance, I think. And believe me, when I say it was a leap across a canyon whose far side was only barely visible at the time. The chances of failure were numerous while success was tenuous at best, for long stretches of time. What a challenge that was! I needed to simultaneously build a support structure for my family as well as a responsive, innovative professional environment, and both had to perform at a high-level right out of the box.
Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.
Kelly Hoggan: I consistently start my workday early in the morning, well before the sun comes up. For me, it’s the most peaceful and quiet time of the day, and it’s also when I come up with some of my best ideas and innovations. There’s nothing like the early-morning solitude that gets my creative juices flowing. The small, still hours are when I often come up with the best ideas, in fact.
What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?
Kelly Hoggan: Without a doubt, if you want a seat at the table, you’ll need to bring something new and different to the discussion, because chances are the men and women already at that table have heard it all a thousand times before. Don’t be one of those fakers who just try to repackage the same old ideas they lifted from someone else and who then just present them in a new or bombastic manner. The chances are 100 percent that you’ll be found out, and then called out, if you do so. Be bold, be different, be true and, most importantly, be confident. Know your business better than anyone you are trying to sell it to, and then just get it done. You’d be surprised at how much more often you succeed than you fail if you follow this formula.
What book has made the biggest impact on your life?
Kelly Hoggan: I must return to the world’s greatest salesman in this regard. Hands down, for me, it’s Zig Ziglar’s “See You at the Top.”
Ziglar’s widely considered to be the preeminent example for salespeople in any industry, whether it’s cars, real estate, anything at all. But he was much more than a simple top-performer in the sales world. Ziglar always stressed the importance of honesty, loyalty, faith, integrity and strong personal character. He was never a proponent of what salespeople call the “one and done” game, meaning you sell someone something, however you can, and then just blow them off and move on to your next “mark.” That’s a recipe for ultimate failure, and it’s completely devoid of any sort of morality or ethics to boot.
Ziglar’s emphasis on the traits that matter – honesty, loyalty, faith and all the rest of them – was extremely powerful because those are precisely the traits that everyone should work to develop if they want to truly succeed, both in business and in life.
“See You at the Top” also provides concrete advice on how to set and achieve goals, and Ziglar gives step-by-step instructions on how you can change the way in which you think about yourself and your environment. Anyone having difficulty dealing with change, for one, should read it and take what he says to heart.
Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?
Kelly Hoggan: If pressed to pick one over the other I would choose common sense. Either you have it, or you don’t. Common sense can help you navigate through many situations in life, and it almost never fails you. It’s a simple formula, really: One can start with common sense and then gain intelligence. But one can’t start with intelligence and then gain common sense, which shouldn’t be confused with “experience.” If you’re still not convinced, consider the example of the Bible’s King Solomon, whose sagacity and common sense has influenced philosophers, poets, scientists and lawmakers, as well as innumerable judges, throughout history. Solomon himself, it was evident, relied far more often on the application of common sense in all the decisions he made than on his intelligence alone, and he was a very smart man. Today, when confronted with a difficult decision to make or judgment to render, we fall back on what’s called the “reasonable person” standard, meaning “What would a reasonable person think (or do or decide) when confronted with this issue?” That’s Solomonic wisdom on full display.
What would you consider to be the perfect day?
Kelly Hoggan: Humanity is descended from creatures that emerged from the sea, and we live on a great blue water planet. To me, there’s nothing more perfect than a day at the beach, relaxing and taking in the water, the waves and the life-nurturing Sun. To be at the beach for a day, or several, is to experience relaxation and a sense of peace that’s impossible to replicate anywhere else on Earth.