As one of the government’s leading providers of innovative technologies and solutions, ManTech International's success is apparent; this year alone, it is expected to bring in nearly $2 billion in revenue. A big part of that success comes down to its ability to recruit and retain the most talented professionals. In the following Q&A, Robert Coleman, president and COO of Mantech, talks about the future of the company, trends in A-Space and other applications, and emerging opportunities in the market space for ManTech and its collaborators.
ExecutiveBiz: Tell us the strategy of the company of where it was in 2001 and where it is today?
Bob Coleman: In 2001 we developed a strategy to focus on the high-end intelligence segment of the DOD community. That strategy, and our execution of it, has put us in an excellent position. Going forward, we will continue to broaden our base in Intel and DOD, staying focused there, but stretching those lanes a little to include the civilian agencies. For example, historically when we looked at acquisitions we would have only done an acquisition that was pure Intel or DOD. Now we are considering acquisitions, and McDonald Bradley was a great example, that have a strong Intel and DOD focus, but also a civilian component. We believe there are significant synergies between our DOD and Intel efforts, and a civilian agency business. With McDonald Bradley, for example, we have taken their civilian sector and merged it with our IT organization and have created a civilian IT component that we believe has significant growth potential. Diversifying our base to include civilian business will help to position us if the markets shift in that direction. It also helps us balance our resources and workloads. The current demand for our skills and services is very high ““ we have approximately 700 openings, most of them for cleared personnel. A civilian agency business would give us a mechanism to bring into the company non-cleared personnel who are highly skilled, allow them to work on non-cleared programs while they go through the clearance process, and then later when they get their clearance, to transfer to classified work.
ExecutiveBiz: Do you think more M&A in the civilian market might be part of your strategy, and how do you approach that?
Bob Coleman: There are certain aspects of the civilian market that have potential. If we do an acquisition that includes civilian business it will have to be in one of the high growth areas we have identified internally. However, high performing Intel and DOD businesses are still a high priority target on our acquisition radar screen.
ExecutiveBiz: Tell us about A-Space and ManTech's role in that contract.
Bob Coleman: A-Space, or Analyst Space, is the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) next generation collaborative analytic environment. We support the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who as executive agent is supporting the development of A-Space for the DNI.
There have been a lot of solutions developed over the years for the analytical community to help them collaborate and share information, but none of them has fully exploited modern networking techniques such as Web 2.0 and social networking concepts like MySpace or Facebook. The new generation of analysts will want to work with tools that they are familiar with, similar to those they use on the Internet. ManTech is developing key components of A-Space, including the collaborative tools and capabilities that were being developed by McDonald Bradley before we acquired them. The McDonald Bradley acquisition enhances our presence on A-Space because they focus on the next generation architecture for the Defense Intelligence Agency ““ called DODIIS-SOA, which stands for Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems – Service Oriented Architecture. One of the barriers to sharing information throughout the community is the lack of a common architecture. We are now helping develop the DODIIS common architecture for the Defense Intelligence Agency. We are also developing the next generation collaborative analytic environment- A-Space, to leverage DoDIIS-SOA and other Intelligence Community platforms. We believe there is a lot of opportunity for us going forward to take that solution set and expand it beyond intelligence analysis to other requirements of the intelligence community.
ExecutiveBiz: How is the development of A-Space proceeding?
Bob Coleman: We just had another customer review and the solution is being well received. I think A-Space is a great example of two organizations – DNI and DIA – working together to drive out a community solution that will provide significant long term benefit.
ExecutiveBiz: What is your overall view of web 2.0 and how it relates to the government market?
Bob Coleman: My personal belief is that while the government sometimes may be slow to adopt new technologies, once they understand the value and the efficiencies that new technologies can bring, they move very quickly. Web 2.0 provides a rich experience for analysts to collaborate and share information beyond what they've had available in the past. The Intel community has taken the lead in adopting these new technologies and that could create a spark that prompts the rest of the government community to look closely and consider some of these new approaches.
ExecutiveBiz: How has ManTech used some of the things you've learned on A-Space and other applications to incorporate that back into the company?
Bob Coleman: Good question. We realized that we could improve our information sharing capabilities. We are taking the A-Space concept and developing a social networking type solution internally to allow our people to communicate and collaborate in a way they have not been able to in the past. This will give us a competitive advantage. The more we share knowledge, the more we understand what is going on throughout the company. We are over 7, 400 people now and in 40 countries. We serve a diverse base of customers with a broad depth of solutions and services. Increasing our ability to collaborate and share information across the company enhances our ability to serve our customers.
ExecutiveBiz: Have you noticed any impact in terms of hiring people as the company is more involved in Web 2.0?
Bob Coleman: Many people that we are hiring, particularly those with advanced IT skills and high-level clearances, do identify with Web. 2.0 and other new technologies. The A-Space program and the concept of social networking have brought a new type of developer to ManTech. This trend is similar to the new wave of developers that came in with the development of the original J2E and some of the earlier technologies that led to Web 2.0. I think this current group is the next generation. Technology evolves over time, there are cycles that happen, there are people that are early adopters and we are seeing that the next generation of early adopters want to come to work for ManTech because they want to build solutions with these new tools.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the hot trends you are tracking that will impact your customers in the next 12-18 months?
Bob Coleman: We see a number of opportunities emerging in our market space that are closely aligned with our capabilities. The National Cyber Initiative for example is an area where we believe we can add significant value to our customers. ManTech has developed very strong Computer Network Operations capabilities over the past several years and I am pleased to say that we recently won a very strategic contract in this area.
ExecutiveBiz: What advice would you give a small business CEO wanting to partner with ManTech?
Bob Coleman: I would say that come to the table with the understanding that we're looking for a long term relationship that will benefit both companies. We're willing to work with you as a trusted partner but there must be a win for both companies otherwise the relationship may not make sense.
ExecutiveBiz: What will the company look like in two years?
Bob Coleman: I can tell you that by 2012 ManTech will be a $3B enterprise that will be known for the quality of our solutions and people. We will have significantly expanded our footprint in what we refer to as the mission-critical market space and we will have a presence in the civil sector. I would expect us to be the dominate mid-tier player in the federal IT services space.
ExecutiveBiz: What is something that most people should know about ManTech?
Bob Coleman: That we take care of our people. We are growing rapidly and expect revenues this year to be in the $1.7 ““ 8B range. We understand that our people are the key to our success. This starts at the very top with our CEO, George Pedersen. George and the management team are totally committed to our employee's and their well being. For example, when Hurricane Katrina hit one of the first things we focused on was what employees we had in that area and if any of them needed assistance. We put 10 or 15 people up in apartments for six months. In other situations where there were natural disasters, and our employees lost their cars, we rented cars for them to get them through that difficult time. We have had overseas employees develop medical problems and we have flown them back to the U.S. to get medical attention at the company's expense. Not only are we concerned with our employees career path and their professional development, we help them balance their work life with their personal life. Our goal is to create an environment at ManTech where employees can pursue a career, develop professionally and in parallel enjoy a meaningful personal life. We also want employees to know that in times of unusual hardship, we will provide assistance. We have an internal special assistance fund that has been established for that purpose.
ExecutiveBiz: ManTech is in a very competitive space. What's your approach to the market?
Bob Coleman: Our number one approach is to recruit and retain the most talented professionals. I know a lot of companies say that, but our customers are very discriminating in terms of the support they require ““ whether it's advanced IT skills and significant Intel domain experience, or technical services that support our troops on the battlefield. Many of our customers review resumes before they will let us put those employees on a program. And occasionally they may conduct an interview themselves. Our focus is to employ highly talented people backed up by a corporate commitment of training and professional development. This helps our employees to grow professionally and to better serve our customers, which in turn makes ManTech more competitive.
Interview with Bob Coleman conducted by JD Kathuria
Read more interviews here: https://blog.executivebiz.com/category/interviews/