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BTS Behind the Scenes: Meet Portfolio Lead Chris Cardwell

BTS Behind the Scenes is a chance to showcase the people who are making things happen at BTS and give you a “behind the scenes” look into their worlds. In this month’s feature we’ll talk with Portfolio Lead Chris Cardwell on world travel, free lunches, and world championship sports.

We found out you were once a Hungry Hungry Hippos World Champion. Let’s hear about that first… 

Technically, it was third place in the World Hungry Hungry Hippos Championship, but yes. My friends and I went to GenCon Indianapolis which is the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America. Between perusing the vendors on the convention floor and play-testing unreleased tabletop games there are numerous events including the Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship. The year I went, there were over 200 participants from at least 5 countries that participated in the Championship and I came in third.  

This might be a stretch but…any correlation between that game and what you do at BTS each day?

I feel there is a joke to be made about slapping things frantically until you get what you want, but I can’t find it. Joking aside, working in support of the National Security missions often has real world impact and it is too easy for a person to become overly invested in the work. I believe it is important to step back every so often to have fun, enjoy life, and to not take things too seriously.  While the skills to be a Hungry Hungry Hippos champion are not directly applicable to what I do at BTS, embracing the ludicrousness of a Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship is definitely a reminder to step back from the work and have fun.

Is it true a free lunch was the genesis for your time in the military?

It is! I was on work release from high school wandering through the mall because I didn’t have to be at work that day. Two guys in uniform approached me and offered me a free lunch. I’Il rarely turn down free food so I took them up on the offer. The next thing I know I was signing paperwork and taking a plethora of tests. I ended up joining the Army as a Linguist which was probably a far better long-term career choice than my initial ask to join as a cook.

You’re a big music guy- tell us about some of your most memorable concerts.

I’ve gone to a wide variety of concerts ranging from 80s synth pop to classical orchestras. My most memorable concert is probably watching Foo Fighters from the sound box at a huge festival or seeing the B-52s on their farewell tour (with opening act KC and the Sunshine Band). My favorite overall concert experience though was showing up to a sold out AFI concert in Berlin without a ticket and not only managing to get into the show, but also getting backstage to meet the band.

Is it true you’re on a quest to visit each continent? How’s that going?

The plan is still in its infancy. The Army saw fit to send me to Europe and Africa so I already have three out of seven checked off the list. I figure I’ll be able to convince my wife to go to South America, Asia, and Australia fairly easily, but getting her to agree to go to Antarctica is going to be a hard sell.

How do you think about balance in your life? Especially when it comes to work?

Cliche as it is, I am definitely one of those people that adheres to the philosophy of working to live and not living to work. Be it traveling the globe, going to concerts, going to the theater, or nerd conventions, I am big on experiencing the wide variety of what the world has to offer.  Having a good work-wife balance is important to me so that I have time to do things and I am grateful that BTS provides me with that balance.

What were some of your first impressions after joining BTS?

What led me to join BTS was the interesting work opportunities and the passion that everyone I talked to had for supporting both our customers’ missions and BTS staff. Since coming on board I have seen this passion in practice and it makes me appreciate the opportunity BTS provided me.

What are you hoping to bring to the team this year?

I’m hoping that I can bring both my experience supporting mission and my experience building and growing teams to help BTS continue to excel in the Maryland market and beyond.

Ok, lightning round!

  • Something you miss from the 1990s: Saturday Morning Cartoons
  • Restaurant you’d love to go back to: I’ll say Aggio in Baltimore as it closed down and I would love to go back but can’t. As far as places I can actually go back to, Jaleo in D.C. 
  • The 1 album you can’t live without: Disintegration by The Cure
  • Your top go-to snack: Probably String Cheese


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