Pat Gnazzo, senior vice president and general manager of CA’s public sector business

As one of the world’s largest information technology management software companies, CA focuses on the management of enterprise-wide IT. Pat Gnazzo is helping keep the momentum going as the senior vice president and general manager of CA’s public sector business. In this position, Gnazzo heads up all operations for CA’s federal, state and local business including management, administration, and regulatory matters, as well as government relations. Less than a year into his new position, Gnazzo debriefs with ExecutiveBiz readers on how his work is going, and lets us in on upcoming trends related to IT services in the federal space.

Tell us about your latest role at CA?

Pat Gnazzo: I am the senior vice president and general manager of CA’s public sector business. That includes federal, state and local government, and education.

You have had various jobs at CA; briefly tell us your background and how you got to where you are now?

Pat Gnazzo: My previous job was at corporate headquarters for CA, where I was CA’s first chief compliance officer (chief ethics officer). I did that for about 2 ½ years. Before that, I was with United Technologies Corporation for about 25 years, where I had various positions in operations, ethics and government Contracting. I was president of United Technologies International and head of UTC’s Government Relations organization in Washington, D.C. I was also at Pratt & Whitney, a division of UTC, where I was deputy general counsel, and VP of Contracts. I was also VP for litigation and counsel at UTC . My career began with the Department of the Navy, where I joined as a litigator on their commercial business, and left as the chief trial attorney for the Navy and Associate General Counsel, so I managed an organization of litigators handling cases on the commercial side.

How does CA view the federal landscape right now?

Pat Gnazzo: Obviously not only the federal, but the state and local businesses are very important to us. They buy a lot of IT services in all of the agencies, at both the state and local levels and in the federal government. We have products that meet many of the federal government’s needs, both from the civilian side of the government and the military, and we strive to provide solutions that meet government needs.

What are some of the hot trends that you are tracking that will impact your business over the next 12-18 months?

Pat Gnazzo: One of the things we are watching is the economy, and where we will see IT funding at all levels of the government. The other top issue is around security and privacy. One of the areas that’s still very strong in the public sector is in the area of managing information and making sure that certain information gets from the federal side to the state and local side. To that point, IT services can also be extremely important in making sure that data is being communicated between agencies, while still maintaining the integrity of the data, with strong security controls to ensure privacy. It’s those kinds of services that we believe we are suited for with respect to the IT business.

As far as trends are concerned, if you are seeing the federal government spending less on tanks or airplanes, you will often see those resources then move to IT services or other kinds of services within the government, both federal and state and local, with programs like Medicare and Medicaid, making sure citizens are receiving services and making sure the data is protected. We can provide products that the government needs to deliver these types of services securely and efficiently. I think that while some areas of the economy are seeing a slowdown, we will see that shift in spending occur, and IT spending will remain constant.

What is your biggest challenge in business today?

Pat Gnazzo: The biggest challenge in business today is obviously making sure that you stay relevant to your customer. I think sometimes that companies want to produce products that they think are great. Companies need to understand that it’s more important to understand your customer’s needs and expectations, so you can offer products that really pique their interest. That being said, the challenge constantly is we are a very global world where things are not as nationalistic as they were in the past. Since everything is not concentrated within the United States or North America your business now is very global and your challenge is in managing people and products around the world to offer real value to customers not only here at home, but around the world.

You are in a very competitive stage in the public sector, how do you try to differentiate your product and offerings from your competition?

Pat Gnazzo: Differentiation is key. I think one of the strongest ways to differentiate yourself is to be able to show your customers that you have comprehensive solutions to satisfy their needs, rather than a single point product that they have to integrate with other products together to create a cobbled-together solution. This takes a lot of time and money. Being able to grasp and understand a customer’s particular problem means being able to give them the solutions they need. I think that is a primary differentiator for CA. We are trying hard to be that differentiator by delivering solutions as part of our vision, which we call Enterprise IT Management (EITM). EITM brings together our products that govern, manage, and secure IT in a way that best maps to our customers’ mission.

What do you want your legacy to be?

Pat Gnazzo: What I want my legacy to be is real growth. Not single-digit growth, larger than that. What I mean by that is I want my legacy to be something that says our strategy is to be there for the customer and be able to produce what the customer needs long term. We don’t want to just look for the short term advantages for our company — we want to look for the long term advantages. That means real growth that goes beyond 7 or 8 percent. If I have any legacy at all, hopefully the legacy is that CA becomes the vendor of choice in the federal sector and state and local as a company that does what it says it will do, and does that with integrity.

How important is partnering with small business in your approach?

Pat Gnazzo: Extremely important! We need to partner not only with small business but with large business as well. Let me give you an example. In many instances, we want to work with big system integrators, large companies that do a lot of business with the federal government across a broad range of areas. Yes, we can help meet government’s IT needs by working with the large system integrators, but in doing that we also need many smaller vendors that help us from the service side. They go in and are there for long periods of time and making sure that that integration is working and making sure that the architecture is right. We could not staff all of those individuals on a full time basis within our own organizational structure, so the smaller businesses and vendors that do business with CA are extremely important to us.

How has your Navy background helped you be a leader today?

Pat Gnazzo: For the record, I have an Army background, too! You know, there are a lot of pro’s and many good reasons for working in the federal government. One real pro, to my mind, is how the Navy is willing to challenge and reward its employees. In my situation, I grew up through the ranks as a civilian warrior within the Navy, and they were willing to give me responsibility very early on. I liken it to how a young lawyer who goes to work for a major law firm usually sits second seat or third seat for seven or eight years. When I went in I litigated 25 very small cases the first year, on my own! Getting that kind of individual responsibility early on, for those who want to take it and deal with it, was a great advantage. I learned a lot, learned to think on my feet. It gave me a sense of confidence and it also told me that there was really nothing that I couldn’t do and it caused me to want to continue to move up within the Navy’s legal department, then to other things within UTC and now here at CA.

Tell us about your new position as it relates to the overall company’s vision?

Pat Gnazzo: It is a new position here, but it is basically just an overlay of other positions that currently exist within CA. I think the most significant difference internally is that CA recognizes that we must do more long term planning and strategizing within the public sector business. I think you are going to see more of that within the rest of the corporation also because of what it is intending to do with respect to its IT solutions. Our whole approach says we want to be more of a long term partner rather than just selling product. With complete solutions you really are partnering with your customer in making sure that you can bring your customer’s needs to a point where they are satisfied and they can do things that they were not able to do before.

The company has been through a lot of challenging times, what is your lesson learned through those challenges?

Pat Gnazzo: I think that the lesson learned is that like a lot of companies, CA was a very entrepreneurial company in the early stages. At some point as a company grows it needs to develop strong processes and adherence to regulations and rules. Some companies never break out of that entrepreneurial concept. I think it was hard for CA early on to break out of that entrepreneurial model because it was pretty much managed by a small group of individuals within the company who were prominent within the company for a long period of time. Good, established companies like CA today have strong, established processes, rules and regulations, and they understand what they are required to do within the business. CA understands that and the long-term prognosis is excellent because of that.

What is something most people are surprised to learn about the public sector?

Pat Gnazzo: The thing that I think would surprise most people is the long hours that the federal, state and local people work. I think that sometimes in the hinterlands we get this concept that government workers, for whatever reason, are people who don’t put the hours in and don’t work the longer hours that they do on the commercial side. I have never seen that and I think if you have worked with the federal government on a regular time basis you see what hard Government workers are. In fact, we work with highly professional people and very professional government customers who put very long hours because they are very dedicated to what they are doing and dedicated to the government and the citizens they are working for.

What is something most people don’t know about you personally?

Pat Gnazzo: Most people don’t know that I enjoy collecting polar bears. When I tried a case in San Diego, many years ago, I had a lot of down time because witnesses were coming in and going out. I gravitated to the polar bear cage at the zoo, and became fascinated with them. I thought polar bears were like a good trial lawyer, fun to watch and dangerous to get close to, so whenever I had down time when I traveled (I traveled all over the world) I made that kind of my hobby to collect polar bears. They are now in lots of boxes because I have moved to McLean and my wife keeps saying “keep them in the boxes, there are just too many of them.” It is something to do as a hobby and this was always good. I was always able to find polar bears in Russia, China and Thailand and just about every part of the world.

How big is the collection?

Pat Gnazzo: It is a little over 500.

Interview with Pat Gnazzo conducted by JD Kathuria

Read more interviews here: http://blog.executivebiz.com/category/interviews/

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