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Obsidian Spotlight: Carmine Vilardi

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Carmine was born in Dumont, NJ, youngest of three kids, and lived most of his childhood in Bergen County, NJ. His father was a self-taught electro-mechanical draftsman and his mother a hairdresser and beauty shop owner. His grandmother also owned a tailoring business. Most of his family was blue-collar hard working folks but very talented.

He was the first in the family to graduate high school. He was married at 18 and became a father at 19. He joined the Air Force in 1978 with a motivation to provide for his family and vision to build a career.

His earlier career was in Avionics Maintenance - learning electronics and working on aircraft (C-130, KC-135, HH1H, UH1N, and others). During off hours he was able to attend college classes. He graduated college 1984, and was accepted into Officer’s Training School (OTS). Commissioned in 1985, he was assigned to Hanscom AFB to work in the Milstar Program Office as a Maintenance Officer. He was asked to go into Logistics Management, taking his maintenance career to the capstone discipline. He then worked in Logistics and subsequently Program Management for the rest of his career. Through his assignments he was able to work satellite communication systems, aircraft systems, test and support equipment, and several other focus areas. He also had the blessing to work with home based units, deployed and bare bases, depots, research labs (like ANSER, MITRE, and GTRI) and contractor organizations (like Rockwell and General Dynamics). After a remote assignment as Director of Logistics at Johnston Island, he was assigned to Wright Labs (Wright Patterson AFB) to work on advanced project research in radar, smart skins, ECM, ECCM, and others. He was accepted to AFIT and in 1994 received my Masters in Logistics Management and Acquisition. His follow-on assignment was to Gunter (Alabama), and was introduced to the business application side of IT. He retired from the Air Force in 1998 and has been supporting the environment as a contractor since.

He bought a farm in 2000 and has chickens, ducks, horses, a pond for fishing / swimming, and some woods for hiking / hunting, and he’s trying his hand at honey bees. He also enjoys time on the farm with his kids (3) and grandchildren (10).

1. What is your role at Obsidian? How long have you been here?

PMO Director, Deputy Operations Director. I’ve been part of the Obsidian family for 3 months.

2. What has been one of your proudest moments while working with Obsidian?

Coming on board I was able to meet folks virtually and was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie I experienced from the start. I enjoyed jovial candor with each person I met. I was pleased to be part of the group. I also had an understanding I was to travel to headquarters (the DC office) regularly. I expected a standard corporate visit. Upon arriving I was pleasantly surprised at the warm welcome and positive atmosphere (and a lot of patience) I found from the moment I arrived. As I work with folks across the organization and throughout the projects, I have felt that same positive, helpful, and supportive response across the board. I’m proud to be part of the Obsidian family.

From the time I hit the ground I was given a role to work with Danielle Peruchi to achieve CMMI for Services certification. There was a lot of work to be done and I had little knowledge of Obsidian processes, practices, or documentation. Danielle worked tirelessly and kept me engaged throughout the effort, helping ensure my contributions were value added and on-track. Several others (too many to mention) came alongside to make sure we had what we needed . Albeit a stressful time, everyone I worked with to get processes, procedures, and artifacts in place were just as positive and supportive as I first experienced. In just a few short weeks we were able to get things ready. We went through the assessment and successfully achieved our CMMI Cert. Truly a team effort with a fantastic group of folks, each member a solid professional. Watch for popping buttons as chests swell with pride.

3. How do you define success?

Building a solid team with a ‘round table’ approach - all members valued and motivated to achieve the same goal.

4. Who inspires you?

My grandfather provides much of my inspiration. An Italian immigrant starting with pennies in his pocket and a vision for a better future, established himself as a blue collar, hard working, productive member of the community. A quiet, humble, and gentle man, he built a family and support network that became the center and heartbeat of our family. Though illiterate and with a language barrier (not great with English), he also advanced at work (as a self-taught mechanic working for Youngstown Steel). By his side I learned a lot about family, and a little about wine making, gardening, welding, mechanics, tools, and so much more. He was also my model for servant leadership … highlighting the values of team members and their contributions.

5. What's one thing you learned last year?

I tried retirement for a few months. Though retirement is good, it’s disheartening to not be sharing with others, collaborating, and growing.

6. What is the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

Beyond reading scripture daily I normally read multiple books at the same time. The last round I read:

“George Washington’s Secret Six” (Brian Kilmeade)

“Gangster Redemption” (Larry Lawton)

“QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” (Richard Feynman)

For history buffs I recommend ‘Secret Six’ .. very well written and cited.

QED - Feynman has an engaging writing style

Larry Lawton’s book is good and spawned an intervention outreach movement, but the language is rough at times and the scenes depicted are for mature readers.

7. What is your favorite way to spend the weekend?

Sharing time with friends and family; cookouts, bonfires, music, motorcycling, hiking, taking out the convertible, playing with the grandchildren, Sunday dinner at home with the family around the table, dinners out (4 star if possible). This week it was plays, school band concerts, and dinner out with friends.

8. What was the first concert you went to? What’s the best concert you’ve been to?

My first concert was seeing “Firefall” at Great Adventures Amusement Park in NJ (1976), enjoyed with my soon-to-be fiance.

9. What ranks number one on your bucket list?

After 20 years of traveling with the Air Force, I’d like to go back again (and see some new) to see sights and explore, this time with my wife … Alaska, England, Germany, Italy, Greece, Korea.

10. If you had to eat one meal everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A traditional Italian meal like Grandma used to make for the family gatherings.

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