Stacy Schwartz always knew she’d end up in Washington, D.C. She parlayed an early interest in political science into a career in IT, marketing and telecommunications. Now vice president of the AT&T Government Solutions sales center, Schwartz manages much of the company’s work with federal agencies.
She calls her time with AT&T, where she has witnessed the evolution of federal IT for nearly a decade, a “journey.”
That journey, even as many contractors feel the squeeze of changing federal budgets, is built on the basics of being a reliable partner for the government, she said.
Or, as she told ExecutiveBiz, “We’re always trying to be good financial stewards.”
ExecutiveBiz: Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you wound up with AT&T Government Solutions?
Stacy Schwartz: During college, I was very focused on government and political science, so I knew that I would end up in Washington, D.C. I did my graduate work in D.C. and started my career with AT&T following graduation. Initially, I worked in both commercial sales and international marketing. I went on to do a little more international work within telecommunications. Then I branched out into the IT and technology space, spending some time at a company called Equinix, which remains today a strong hosting competitor. I had the opportunity, being in D.C., to actually come back to AT&T and get into the federal market space, which I have been doing for the last nine years.
ExecutiveBiz: What would you describe as three or four core competencies that AT&T Government Solutions offers?
Stacy Schwartz: AT&T Government Solutions is highly specialized and focused on the unique requirements for the federal government space. However, as a business unit of AT&T, AT&T Government Solutions is able to leverage the strengths of the larger corporation for our clients. As a company, one of our core competencies is the delivery of IP services. AT&T has superior global IP-based network services that the federal government is taking full advantage of to launch and support more complex application services. Our network is the foundation for the higher-end applications being launched across the government. This is a core strength for AT&T. We believe having superior IP network services is our key competitive advantage, as well as consistently delivering our networks to meet government requirements.
Another strength not too far from our IP services is our mobility network. AT&T has invested significantly in our mobility network, and we have put further emphasis in looking at mobility solutions for our federal customers. In addition to investing in our core network and infrastructure, we’ve placed a lot of emphasis on applications that increase productivity of federal workers. Mobile devices and applications have great potential to help federal agencies accomplish their missions more efficiently, from even the most strategic level down to the most tactical level in the field.
Finally, I would mention our security services. We believe we possess significant intellectual talents, starting with AT&T Chief Security Officer Dr. Ed Amoroso, who has spent a lot of his time working within the federal space and now leads the strategic direction and innovation for the corporation. He has been behind a lot of the solutions that we’ve driven out to the federal market space in cybersecurity.
One solution is the General Services Administration’s Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services (MTIPS) product. This service offers federal agencies a way to meet the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) initiative requirement to secure the government’s IT infrastructure. AT&T was the first Networx contract holder to receive an Authority to Operate (ATO) for this service and we have announced awards with several agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.
These are three focus areas for AT&T Government Solutions. However, there are certainly more that I could talk about, but those are the areas where we seem to get a lot of traction with our clients.
ExecutiveBiz: What are your goals and visions both for the company and from your professional aspect within the company?
Stacy Schwartz: It has been a journey with the federal government. Over the past decade, we’ve seen the evolution of federal agency IT needs and capabilities. I believe AT&T has managed successfully to deploy a lot of our foundational networks across the government and continued to work within the government to leverage those assets. During this time, federal agencies have spent time putting forward a strong network platform strategy. AT&T has a lot to offer as agencies seek to use network platforms to utilize a higher level of application and converged services. Over the next few years, I believe AT&T has a great opportunity to work with clients to move further into the application space.
From a personal perspective, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with a number of clients and different technology areas; it has been very fulfilling. Today, I manage a fair portion of our work with civilian agencies. I would certainly like to continue to grow in terms of setting our strategic direction within the federal marketplace. AT&T offers a lot of pathways to do that. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I think there is a lot of promise within AT&T.
ExecutiveBiz: In the federal government, at this current moment, a lot of the focus seems to be on trimming the budget, cutting back. As a company that works pretty closely in the federal space – what issues do you face as it relates to this current economic climate?
Stacy Schwartz: We certainly feel budget changes like any other contractor in the federal space, but we’ve always been focused from a networking perspective on efficiency. As we migrate from a particular contract or continue to work with a customer, we’re always trying to be good financial stewards. AT&T always felt that overarching pressure to make sure that the federal government sees a return on investment and presents competitive, market-based pricing. The competition has ensured that as well. It’s been a chief concern for AT&T and we examine and monitor budgets constantly and look to identify new cost-cutting strategies to provide a good service to our clients.
ExecutiveBiz: Are there any other issues with government sales and technology that you think lie on the horizon?
Stacy Schwartz: I think it’s going to get tougher for contractors as competition continues to increase. However, this forces contractors to get better at what you do from a sales perspective; you have to demonstrate efficiency and return on investment constantly. You have to demonstrate from a sales perspective that your technology enhances the performance of a particular agency, in terms of achieving their mission objectives. Those are challenges that may feel more acute over time. I do think there are new technologies coming on to the forefront and certainly I hope that as budget cycles and cost concerns come about that that doesn’t stifle innovation. The federal government, in a lot of respects, has led certain aspects of innovation within the market. One driving force is cloud computing. I think the federal government has identified cloud computing as a way to realize enormous cost savings and efficiencies in its IT infrastructure. From our perspective, we were very pleased to see that the government announced a new online storefront for cloud computing services – Apps.gov. We were proud that AT&T was one of the vendors selected and is eligible to provide cloud-based services and products to federal agencies through this new award.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have any outside hobbies?
Stacy Schwartz: I don’t have too much spare time! I have three children who are very busy and engaged in school. So if you asked me what I’ve been doing lately in my spare time, I’ve been doing a lot of homework. On a personal note for me, I do like to go off and have some time to exercise, such as cycling and jogging. In addition, I love to travel. When my husband and I can do it, we like to travel domestically but we really do enjoy doing some international travel. I think between trying to run a business here and also keep up with family activities there’s not too much time hang