Mac Curtis, President and CEO of Vangent

Mac Curtis, President and CEO of Vangent - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Mac Curtis, President and CEO of Vangent - top government contractors - best government contracting eventThis is an exciting time for Vangent. Since it celebrated its one-year anniversary this past February, the company has been embarking on a productive year chockful of new goals, aspirations, and strategies. Mac Curtis, president and CEO of Vangent, has been communicating that vision to employees ever since. Over the past year, he has spent a significant amount of time on the road, meeting with employees and discussing Vangent’s overall mission.

What are you working on these days?

Mac Curtis: Vangent is continuing to grow, and we are improving the way we position ourselves in the market. A lot of people think we are just a customer relationship management (CRM) contact center company, but that is only one aspect of our business. Granted, we are the sole provider of the nation's largest citizen contact management programs, 1-800-Medicare, but what really separates us from other companies are the people, processes and technology behind the scenes. When we talk about Vangent's “design, build and operate“ approach, we create and implement the systems that allow mission-critical processes to function.

We celebrated our one-year anniversary this past February as Vangent. It has been an interesting year, to say the least. When we were sold by Pearson, we had to take the time to hone our own goals, aspirations and strategies. After we decided where we wanted to take the business, the next step was communicating our vision for the future to our employees. I have spent a lot of time on the road visiting with employees around the country, and when I meet with them, we talk about the company's mission and vision. This is an exciting time for Vangent, and the employees know it. They get charged up when they see we are working hard to brand Vangent.

What’s happened in the past year, in particular?

Mac Curtis: Sure. The sales process was pretty involved. We reached an agreement in November 2006 with Veritas and shortly after that, we went on the road to sell bonds needed to finance the deal. On February 14, 2007, we officially became Vangent and began the process of transitioning from Pearson. That meant bringing on a wide variety of services that Pearson previously provided, such as a human resources information system, as well as network and infrastructure support. We also had to put treasury, tax and the general counsel functions in place “” all the things you need to have to be a stand-alone business. We made some strategic organizational changes and brought on new leaders to build our health solutions business and our civilian, defense and national security divisions. We focused on building the right management team that can take Vangent from a run rate of $600M to a billion dollars and eventually a public company.

That's your plan, to eventually take it public?

Mac Curtis: Yes, that is our goal in the near future, as long as it's in the best interests of our investors.

What’s your biggest challenge right now to making that happen?

Mac Curtis: We do business in an extremely competitive market space. To be successful, we have to continuously identify, qualify and win deals, delight our customers and take care of our employees.

What is your view of making new acquisitions to help you in that process?

Mac Curtis: We are owned by Veritas Capital and since they are a private equity firm, we have some latitude. The best way to grow the business, and what is best for the shareholders, is organic growth because of the return on capital. However, our strategy is focused on growing our business in the health care space, so we will look at acquisitions there. We have a commercial business that is successfully working with Fortune 500 companies in the human capital management arena. And, our international business is doing well.

What hot trends are you seeing in the contact center space?

Mac Curtis: Whenever you talk about contact centers, you have to consider the technology. You also have to anticipate all of the questions and issues that our citizens may have. Maybe it's an education or financial aid issue or maybe it's open enrollment for retired civil servants. The key is the initial contact with that person. They want to get the right answer the first time they call or go to the web site. And they should. First call resolution is a major focus for us. We have to manage the information that is online or that the customer service representative provides over the phone. And, proper training for the representatives is key. Really, the trend is first call resolution and how Vangent builds the right technology to support that goal.

Are you tracking the Web 2.0 space in the government at all?

Mac Curtis: We look at Web 2.0 as it impacts delivery of information to citizens. There is a lot of technology out there. It's not just Web 2.0, but also voice-over IP and how all of those technologies work together. We are in the business to provide the best solutions.

What advice would you give a CEO of a small business wanting to partner with Vangent?

Mac Curtis: Call us and come see us. Our phone number is 703-284-5600 and our website is James Partlow, Vangent's Director of Procurement, is responsible for working with our small business partners. We are very interested in, and have always worked well with, small businesses.

How will the new president coming in impact your business?

Mac Curtis: Regardless of who moves into the White House next year, we are well positioned in the health care and education markets, in particular. We are also well poised to address the needs of civilian agencies, particularly those that require a high-level of customer touch, like the Social Security Administration. We are also ready to do more business with DoD. Although we are not known as a huge defense intelligence shop, we hold our own there, too.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Mac Curtis: I'm a pretty high energy guy and am very passionate about this business. I expect our employees to bring their best ideas, energy and passion, and yes, I hold them accountable. As we've grown, a larger part of my role is communicating: communicating with the employees, our investors and our customers. It is all about communicating and making sure we are focused on winning. We want to make sure everyone knows the vision, the mission, our strategy and how we are doing.

Does being owed by a private equity company pose any specific challenges in how you approach your business?

Mac Curtis: We have great owners, Veritas Capital, who want us to succeed. They are pro-business and pro-growth, which gives us the latitude to acquire companies that will help us grow. They want us to be successful.

What is something most people don't know about you?

Mac Curtis: When I'm not at work or spending time with my family, I enjoy outdoor sports such as running, surfing and skiing.

Tell us something interesting about your approach that our readers might find interesting.

Mac Curtis: I love playing sports, and played football and baseball. I tend to use a lot of sports analogies when it comes to business “” when capturing deals and the required-to-win perseverance. Business is like a game. There are winners and there are losers. You have a strategy and if it doesn't work, you have to try something different. Sometimes, especially late in the game, you just have to work harder and smarter.

Interview with Mac Curtis conducted by Lisa Singh

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Mac Curtis, President and CEO of Vangent - top government contractors - best government contracting event
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