They come from a diverse range of backgrounds. Some came to the private sector from the military. Others made the transition from the government. Still others started out directly in the commercial space and worked their way on up. But whatever their individual backgrounds they all share a common theme: Each has developed winning strategies that have driven the success of their companies.
It is that record of excellence that has led each to be named to our Top 10 Business Development Executives list. From defense to IT, all bring to their positions unique industry expertise — and the experience needed to forecast long-range opportunities. As we look to a change in administration and a new economic climate, these Top 10 executives weigh in on what’s ahead for the government contracting community — and what other area executives can do to help their companies rise to the top as well.
Howard Ady, Stanley Inc.
In his spare time he’s a fan of volksmarching — a noncompetitive form of walking — but get Howard Ady in a board room and you’ll find nothing noncompetitive about him there. Backed by a strong team spirit, Ady serves as vice president of federal accounts for Stanley, Inc., an Arlington, Va.-based company that provides systems integration and professional services to U.S. defense and federal civilian government agencies. Having been at the company a little under a year, Ady is currently leading several major GWAC initiatives and assists with positioning Stanley for larger, more strategic opportunities down the road.
“Howard brings both a distinguished federal career in key CIO and CFO positions and a decade of industry IT expertise to Stanley,” says George Wilson, Stanley executive vice president. “We are glad he chose to join our team and assist us in further developing our customer relationships.”
Long before he ever joined Stanley, and before that BearingPoint, Ady was heralded for his work within the local IT community. Having been with the federal government for 33 years with DOD, Navy, GSA and OPM organizations, in CIO and CFO roles, Ady made it a point to establish closer ties between the public and private sectors once he left for the industry sector. That commitment has won big praise from leading association groups, such as the American Council for Technology, which honored him in 2003 with its prestigious Janice K. Mendenhall Spirit of Leadership Award.
These days, Ady is making sure that business development goals for Stanley take into account both the change in administration and challenging economic climate. “We are concerned about delays in confirmations for agency political positions and will continue our strategic planning to better position Stanley for success,” says Ady, outlining a few of his objectives for the coming year. “We are hopeful that new political leadership will strive to fill the vacuum caused by the retirement of the Honorable Tom Davis; we expect the two-front war to continue to draw on scarce resources in a troubled economy causing continued consolidation in the federal, state and local IT community; and we expect to be on the frontlines of what we anticipate to be avid support by [the new] administration to support cybersecurity.”
Finley Foster, AMERICAN SYSTEMS
In a career that has spanned more than two decades and three industries, Finley Foster has made a name for himself as one of the most talented business development strategists in the Washington, DC area. “Finley has the unique ability to lead a business development team in both ‘interpreneurial’ business development thinking as well as the process,” says Bill Scheessele, CEO of Mastering Business Development, Inc. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Foster’s work for AMERICAN SYSTEMS. Since joining the Chantilly, Va.-based company in 2006, Foster has spearheaded an improved business development process for all business units. With a laser focus on accomplishing significant revenue growth, he has led AMERICAN SYSTEMS to submit more than $1.5 billion worth of new business proposals so far this year — that’s more than four times the annual amount ever achieved in the 30-plus year history of the company.
Early indicators are positive. In the past few months, AMERICAN SYSTEMS was awarded prime contracts with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Navy with a combined estimated revenue potential exceeding $100 million. Looking ahead, Foster remains optimistic amid the shifting political and economic climate. “In good times or bad times, in a Democratic or Republican administration, we believe we’ve selected strategic business areas in national priority markets,” he says.
Foster’s ability to develop strategies that fit changing and diverse market landscapes has won the praise of AMERICAN SYSTEMS’ President and CEO Bill Hoover. Hoover also gives Foster high marks for what he calls a “human, practical focus” on implementing the tactical side of business development. “This combination of trust with necessary tools and effective process enables our strategic business area leaders to execute those strategies effectively,” says Hoover. “As we continue to focus on increasing our prime contracting opportunities, I believe that our people, process, and pipelines will lead to even greater successes and bigger wins for AMERICAN SYSTEMS.”
Mike Fox, SRA International
Picture this: The year is 1995 and SRA International, a Fairfax, Va.-based services provider specializing in national security and civil government stands as a $100 million company. Fast-forward to 2008 and the picture is far different: SRA’s sales most recently topped $1.6 billion. For Renny DiPentima, former president and CEO of SRA, a good deal of credit goes to the hands-on leadership of one individual: Mike Fox. “During my years at SRA … I always recognized Mike Fox as our most strategic thinker and top business development executive,” says DiPentima. “I can trace a trail of critical strategic wins to Mike’s vision and execution.”
That vision was apparent from the beginning, when Fox started out at the company’s Boston office and focused on growing SRA’s command and control and information technology services business. Fox moved into corporate business development eventually leading the entire marketing and sales organization. He also was the deputy director for the command and control, communications and intelligence systems (C3I) business unit. “With more than 20 years at SRA, Mike has been a significant driver in the company’s growth and success,” adds SRA President and CEO Stan Sloane.
Those high marks explain Fox’s recent move to senior vice president for corporate development. In his new role, Fox is developing a corporate-wide roadmap and implementing new initiatives that will enable SRA to capitalize on the “fast moving streams” within the global IT services and solutions business.
“Mike’s knowledge of the inner-workings of SRA with expertise spanning marketing, sales and client programs, as well as the external marketplace, made him the ideal choice for the recent move to a new role in corporate development,” says Sloane. “He is a key player on the SRA leadership team.”
As for the new administration, Fox offers this advice: “The key to being successful during a presidential transition is maintaining close customer contacts with those government officials who will be the principal advisors to the incoming agency administrators and CIOs,” says Fox. “They will be the ones who decide which legacy programs continue and which ones will be cut to fund the budget priorities for the new administration. It’s also important to maintain a balanced portfolio of business across the federal IT services market so that you’re not left “holding the bag” as priorities shift. For SRA our areas of focus create that balanced business reach in national security, civil government and global health markets.”
Mike Gaffney, CSC
Backed by 26 years of experience in the federal IT market, Mike Gaffney is known as an accomplished business development executive and proven relationship builder. These days, as president of business development for the North American Public Sector business unit of CSC, an IT and business services company in Falls Church, Va., Gaffney has his eyes squarely on the future. “Clearly, our industry is facing some of the greatest uncertainties we’ve encountered in quite some time,” says Gaffney, predicting that there will be “dramatic” shifts in budget priorities, particularly in defense and a decreasing level of discretionary spending.
“Fortunately for CSC, our strength resides in the diversity of our business base,” he adds. “While we expect to see reductions in some programs and increases in others, the breadth of our business base and the unmatched collection of IDIQ contracts should allow us to thrive regardless of who’s in office.”
To navigate any future scenario, CSC has developed a strategy that positions it for success. “In addition to continuing to build our core business, we are focusing on those programmatic areas of government that must be addressed regardless of the change in administration,” says Gaffney. Those areas, he adds, include health services, logistics, identity management, training, command and control, and IT infrastructure. “[Those] will be among the investment priorities in environments of either budget expansion or constraint,” he says.
CSC is also well-positioned to deliver solutions to address increasing demand in the emerging cybersecurity market segment. “We see the state market, especially in the areas of health and homeland security, as representing an important growth opportunity that plays to CSC’s strength in federal health services and homeland security,” says Gaffney.
R.J. Kolton, L-3 Services Group
Overseeing the business development activities of one company is hard enough. But two? As senior vice president for strategic business development for L-3 Services Group and MPRI, a division of L-3, R.J. Kolton has the dual responsibility of developing and implementing both companies’ business strategies. Along the way, Kolton’s energy and drive have been praised as the “fuel” for each one’s success. Both exceeded their performance targets this year and the last and are expected to do the same in 2009.
Founded in 1987, MPRI provides national security, defense, and law enforcement customers with integrated solutions for education, training, and operations. Kolton, for his part, joined MPRI in 1998 as a director of business development and was promoted to senior vice president for strategic business development in 2003.
“R.J. has done a superb job … due in large part to his unparalleled knowledge of our business sectors, his unique ability to recognize and harvest strategic business opportunities, and his plain hard work,” says Carl Vuono, president of MPRI and LSG. Kolton’s “imagination and initiative,” adds Vuono, have injected new life into the companies’ institutionalized business development systems. Nowhere was that more evident than this past year when Kolton helped bring in over $4.3 billion in sales. Those plans began in earnest in the fall of 2007, when, after nearly a year of planning, Kolton had initiated a series of steps to restructure LSG from nine operating divisions into six. “This was a daunting task that involved addressing all of the key business functions of the six divisions, each earning between $600,000 and $1.1 billion in annual sales, while concurrently continuing to support our customers and perform business development,” says Kolton.
Today, Kolton stands poised to take LSG and MPRI to the next level. “We are committed to achieving success as one of the top professional services companies supporting the uniformed services, DOD, other government agencies, and international customers,” says Kolton. And if his track record is any indication, Kolton and his team will continue to find bigger and better ways to find integrated solutions to their customers’ needs.
Dale Luddeke, CACI
He’s been with CACI only 18 months, but in short order Dale Luddeke has helped sharpen the company’s focus — and growth potential. As executive vice president for corporate business development, Luddeke has helped CACI, a publicly-held IT company headquartered in Arlington, Va., and London, generate a record number of proposal submissions and wins. That move, in turn, has more than doubled CACI’s business development pipeline. Among Luddeke’s key areas of emphasis have been opportunity process disciplines, business intelligence, multiple award contracts utilization and opportunity tracking systems, all of which have contributed to improved bid decisions, spending and resource utilization. Luddeke also takes a leadership role in CACI’s mergers and acquisitions and corporate strategic planning activities, winning him the praise of CACI’s other key leaders.
“We are quite pleased with Dale’s leadership and high degree of collaboration in further establishing CACI as a highly competitive and value-based provider in the U.S. federal government markets,” says CACI president and CEO Paul Cofoni. “His activities have enhanced our business development practices and ensured we position ourselves to help federal clients solve their most challenging problems in defense, intelligence, homeland security, and government services.”
As Luddeke looks ahead, he anticipates a “very busy year,” which, he adds, CACI is well positioned to meet head on. “CACI business structures and solution delivery models provide stability for performance improvements and flexibility for rapidly responding to new challenges … we remain a trusted, fully integrated partner helping federal agencies protect and serve our homeland while also helping our troops find and neutralize the threats that do not subside with an administration change,” he says.
Bob Mutchler, Serco
Helping Serco grow organically at a double-digit rate, playing a role in acquiring companies that add depth and breadth to Serco’s capabilities, bidding and winning large deals in a highly competitive marketplace — it’s all in a day’s work for Bob Mutchler, senior vice president of business development for the company’s North American division.
So far all that hard work is paying off. Since Mutchler joined the business services company in mid-2006 — and brought with him a wealth of business development experience spanning 20 years in the defense and IT industries — the company has been bidding and winning larger, more complex bids. “Bob has played a significant role in the evolution of Serco’s North American business over the last two years,” says Ed Casey, Chairman and CEO of Serco North America. That’s never a small feat, especially in Serco’s case; it had no central business development group when Mutchler came on board. Instead, business growth strategy was focused on large task orders with existing customers. “Bob helped develop a centralized business development strategy that allowed us to take a longer-range view of opportunities, combine capabilities from across the business and approach customers with a more integrated solution,” adds Casey.
Mutchler focused on drawing out and integrating various capabilities within the business to help it be more competitive on larger contracts, as evidence by the company’s successful bid for LOGCAP IV with the U.S. Army. At the time, the Army was looking for an independent cost analysis of what it should cost to provide various supplies to troops deployed overseas. Under Mutchler’s watch, Serco became the exclusive, independent company doing such cost analysis for the Army, and supplied methodologies and other data that allowed the Army to make better decisions — and save the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars in the process.
Most recently, Bob has been part of an executive team that is integrating SI International into Serco, an acquisition that nearly doubles the size of Serco in North America and adds important new capabilities that will position Serco for even larger and more complex deals. “We have shown that we can bid and win against tier 1 companies, but not yet at the win rate that we would like,” he says, speaking in his trademark candor. Having worked in all facets of operations for companies including CGI-AMS, Computer Sciences Corporation, DynCorp, GRC International, Harris Corporation, and L-3 Titan Corporation, Mutchler is keen on seeing Serco reach this next step. “I’m ever so excited about Serco’s future and the opportunities and challenges ahead,” he says.
Shawn O’Brien, ManTech
As he gears up for another year at ManTech, Shawn O’Brien can look back on an impressive four-year track record. Since joining the company in 2005, he has established a professional business development community throughout ManTech that has delivered 15 consecutive quarters of outstanding bookings of over $7.6 billion, and a record $2.8 billion in bookings through the first three quarters of this year. Next on the horizon is helping this Intelligence Community/Department of Defense contractor reach a key goal: $3 billion in annual revenue by 2012. For that to happen a solid business development function is critical — and ManTech’s leaders say O’Brien has what it takes to move that effort forward.
“George J. Pedersen [Chairman of the Board and CEO of ManTech] and I are very proud of Shawn’s exceptional accomplishments in creating the very kind of successful and sustainable business development function at ManTech that will take us to that $3 billion mark and beyond,” says Robert A. Coleman, ManTech’s president and chief operating officer.
Well before he ever entered the private services sector, O’Brien’s leadership skills were apparent. For 20 years, he served in the United States Air Force. After retiring, O’Brien went on to a nine-year career at Northrop Grumman, where he last served as the director of program development for Northrop’s Space and Intelligence Operating Unit and led the capture of a $1 billion intelligence program — the largest award ever made to the Northrop Grumman IT Sector.
Today, as ManTech’s senior vice president of program development, O’Brien is responsible for the company’s global marketing and communications; market and opportunity assessments; and proposal operations; as well as their strategic relationships and alliances. Projecting these responsibilities into the future, he offers this insight: “The challenge for ManTech — indeed for all defense contractors including those we compete with and those we compete against — will be to deliver to our customers the full advantage of technologies and solutions that defend and defeat a growing number of threats from cyber to conventional in a way that maximizes the value to the taxpayer. I am enthusiastic about ManTech’s ability to live up to and follow through on our commitments and promises of value on each and every program we participate in or pursue.”
Giovanna Patterson, Vangent
Giovanna Patterson is an engineer by trade. “I look at systems and analyze how to optimize them,” she says. That background is proving a definite asset in her role as senior vice president of business development for Vangent, a global provider of information management and strategic business process outsourcing solutions in Arlington, Va. Patterson came on board in March 2008 — a year after Vangent’s inception — with an eye on taking the company to a whole new level.
Patterson certainly has the track record to help make that happen. For 10 years, she served in key roles at SRA International, including vice president and business development director for the global health sector and vice president and strategic business unit director for the majority of SRA’s civilian agencies. Along the way, Patterson helped take SRA from a $300 million company to one with annual sales exceeding $1.6 billion.
Now Patterson is bringing that winning edge to Vangent. “Gio Patterson’s reputation for bringing innovation to customers’ needs … is well-known across the industry,” says Mac Curtis, president and CEO of Vangent. “Her broad experiences — and proven successes — in DoD, Intelligence, Civilian and Federal Health IT make her an integral asset to Vangent’s leadership team … we are delighted that Gio is leading corporate development at a pivotal time in our company’s growth.”
Since coming on board, Patterson has already helped Vangent land three major vehicles: A $300 million 10-year IDIQ contract with the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid called EDSS, as well as new contracts with the FDA and the Army National Guard. To reach that point, Patterson led the charge in hiring top BD talent and spearheaded the establishment of an effective capture management process. Throughout, the key emphasis has been on doing one’s homework — “standing back and asking how we can win in this competitive landscape,” she says.
Patterson is ready for that competitive landscape, she adds. “2009 is about positioning … the markets are flat so you want to get on the right vehicles — we’re doing that,” she says, adding that in addition to Vangent’s focus on education and health care, particularly among in military health, the company is moving into energy. “These are markets that we think are supported by both parties,” she says. It’s hard to miss Patterson’s confidence, particularly when she talks about the future: “It’s not been a year yet [since coming on board] but I do feel good that we’ve had some major wins here at Vangent, that we’ve put in place a proposal operation center and are almost fully staffed and our pipeline now is over $3 billion.” Plus, the company is moving closer to establishing a GWAC center of excellence. “That’s in the near term,” she says, adding, “I want all our competitors to know we’ll be pushing hard across all our vehicles.” Looks like it won’t be long until Patterson does for Vangent what she did for SRA.
Ray Whitehead, General Dynamics Information Technology
Back in the day, when he was an armor officer with the U.S. Army, Ray Whitehead served in tank units all over the world. Whitehead has since traded in his army fatigues for a suit and tie, but his leadership skills are stronger than ever. Over the past eight years, Whitehead has helped position General Dynamics Information Technology, based out of Fairfax, Va., as a major player in government information technology arena.
His approach? As vice president of business development and strategic planning, Whitehead has gone beyond telecommunications infrastructure and IT logistics support to make sure General Dynamic’s acquisitions consist of small, medium and large service-oriented companies. That latter focus has helped transformed General Dynamics IT into a full spectrum services company with clients across the federal market. Couple that acquisition strategy with growth that focuses on multi-award, IDIQ contracts, and the results speaks for themselves: Whitehead has helped General Dynamics IT continue its strong growth year after year.
“Ray Whitehead’s strategic and innovative thinking adds value to how we effectively conduct our operations, win new business and plan for the future,” says Dan Johnson, president of General Dynamics IT. As for future, particularly the upcoming change in U.S. Administration, Whitehead remains even keeled.
“We believe that the demand for government services will remain healthy,” says Whitehead. “The government is going to need contractors like General Dynamics IT to continue to support the needs of the taxpayers, especially in information technology.”
What keeps Whitehead going, he adds, is the mantra that exists within General Dynamics IT — and which attracted him to the company in the first place: a complete and total focus on the customer’s mission.