Kirk Herdman is the Senior Vice President of Business Development and Operations for Global Defense Technology & Systems, Inc. We had the chance to ask him about GTEC’s strategy to maintain competitiveness and any possible business development challenges he sees in the future. In our interview, Herdman tells us how he likes to spend his free time and some of his favorite books. He also shared with us some of the best advice he has ever received.
GovCon Executive: You’ve transitioned from running a large business unit in your last position to a corporate business development and operations role with GTEC. Can you explain to us how the transition has gone so far?
Kirk Herdman: My former ops position required that I be available to respond to the needs of over 1,000 employees and subcontractors on a routine basis and I had to do that at multiple locations across the U.S. supporting their contractual, financial and programmatic requirements. I moved to GTEC and found myself in the middle of a pre-IPO process which was a fast paced environment and I had to jump onboard with all of the activities and do my part in contributing to a successful IPO. I’ve taken the lessons learned from my previous operational position and some of the experience gained to get directly engaged with the GTEC operational units and their leaders, learn more about their mission and their customer base so that I can better support their needs. It’s been a good opportunity and I have not looked back from making the transition.
“I think my first boss in this business probably gave me the best advice. He said, “Don’t let your next decision be your first.” – Kirk Herdman
GovCon Executive: Can you tell us about GTEC’s strategy going forward as we are entering this new decade and how you are going to maintain your competitiveness?
Kirk Herdman: We just completed a couple of weeks of strategic planning meetings and briefed our Board of Directors. As a public company our mission really hasn’t changed. We are a company that is very focused in what we do. The federal IT space is big and we don’t try to do everything for everyone within that space; we focus on customers that have mission critical roles in the DoD, homeland security and intelligence markets where we develop and integrate cutting-edge technologies or systems and then offer operational support services that address our customer’s complex needs. We will continue to do that and to make investments in our capabilities and technologies to keep growing our business in support of the customers that we have today.
GovCon Executive: How is this position going forward aligned with the recently released QDR?
Kirk Herdman: I had the opportunity to briefly review the QDR recently. We are pretty much a pure-play defense technology company aligned with the priorities outlined by the QDR. Our main customer is the US government and our strategy is closely aligned with the missions of the DoD agencies and services,. That helps us to be very mission focused. Regarding the specific elements of the QDR – a key point is the need for our military to adjust to the changing threat environment. The U.S. government faces enemies that are more mobile and technologically-savvy than ever before and GTEC provides a lot of capability to help the DoD move to a more expeditionary force through some of the design, engineering and integration services we provide to modernize and improve the mobility of our forces. We also provide analytical services and supporting technical solutions to the Intel and counterterrorism community. As a mid-sized QDR-focused company, we have the agility, technical know-how and responsiveness required to support the missions described in the QDR designed to prevent and deter conflict going forward.
GovCon Executive: Do you foresee any business development challenges in the future?
Kirk Herdman: We face tough competition every day. In order to continue to be successful, we need to leverage resources across the company to be able to earn our share of the business against very strong competition. In many cases our competitors are bigger than we are. We are able to compete because our leadership team has a strong focus on growth. The entire team has come from positions where growing the company and generating new business was a big part of their jobs and they continue to do that at GTEC. It makes my job easier to work within a culture based on exceeding the expectations of both our customers and our share holders. When you combine our shared vision for growth with our ability to offer our customers leading edge solutions packaged in the more responsive and customized solutions that only a more agile mid-tier services company can provide, GTEC is in a good place in the market.
GovCon Executive: Can you tell us where the GTEC operational units are focused? How have they impacted GTEC as a whole? Has the focus shifted from 2009 at all?
Kirk Herdman: Our focus has not changed. The national security focus has shifted. It’s no longer about building the biggest and strongest force structure or being the biggest kid in the sandbox. In today’s world information is power and the advantage goes to those who can collect the information, connect the dots and translate it into understandable, actionable intelligence faster and more efficiently than our adversaries. And that is what we do.
Our Technology and Intelligence Services and our Force Mobility & Modernization Systems groups are both growing organizations and have developed a strong track record of performance in these areas. They’ll continue to focus on supporting their customers in the long standing and growing markets they serve. Their markets are robust. They are large enough that we haven’t overly saturated those markets with our services. We want them to continue to focus on those markets while we help them leverage each others capabilities, go after bigger opportunities that may combine more than one core competency such as combining our force mobility capabilities with the C4I services that we provide to address the mobile C4I markets that we see especially as we transition in and out of areas of conflict.
GovCon Executive: Can you tell us what you enjoy doing on your time off? Do you have a favorite vacation spot or a hobby?
Kirk Herdman: It’s certainly not shoveling snow, which I have spent much of the last few weeks doing. In my spare time I stay busy running between kid’s sporting events. I’ve even coached some of their AAU basketball teams. When we do get a break my wife and I enjoy traveling down to southwestern Virginia to the lakes down there; like Smith Mountain Lake and Claytor Lake and enjoying boating and other activities on the lake.
GovCon Executive: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Kirk Herdman: I think my first boss in this business probably gave me the best advice. He said, “Don’t let your next decision be your first.” He meant to be decisive, take action and don’t be afraid to make difficult decisions. I think there are a lot places and events to apply that advice in this business. My boss gave me that advice as he was assigning me to go support several key Navy, Air Force and OSD customers in the Pentagon where I worked for five or six years. I was able to apply that advice in the support I provided to customers while working in the Pentagon. I’ve also found in this business its important to remain open to sound advice. None of us have all of the answers.
GovCon Executive: Who is your favorite author? Do you have a favorite book? Can you tell us why they are your favorite?
Kirk Herdman: I’m not sure I have a favorite. I’m really all over the map in what I read. If I’m not reading the latest children’s book to my kids I’m often reading books on different leadership topics; like First Break all of the Rules or Leading Out Loud or other leadership related titles.