QinetiQ North America’s new CIO Frank Kist

QinetiQ North America's new CIO Frank Kist - top government contractors - best government contracting event

QinetiQ North America's new CIO Frank Kist - top government contractors - best government contracting eventWith major acquisitions in the government IT space under its belt, QinetiQ North America has left its mark as a leading defense technology company for U.S. government clients. Frank Kist is working to keep the momentum going. As the new CIO of QinetiQ North America, Kist oversees the integration of six major acquisitions. “To date they've run their businesses separately and the common infrastructure has not been centralized … so that's my focus now,” Kist tells ExecutiveBiz. As part of integration Kist is looking at cost savings and cost avoidance initiatives to consolidate and upgrade the infrastructure. “We are consolidating the finance systems, email, active directory, and file servers, and taking all of the separate public websites and consolidating all of them onto one set of servers,” he adds. In the following Q&A, Kist shares the latest on his new role and what’s ahead in the areas of cybersecurity, acquistions, and the area’s IT job market.

Briefly tell us about your background and your role with QinetiQ North America.

Frank Kist: I've been in IT for my entire career. Before QinetiQ North America, I was CIO at SRA International. Before that I was an ACIO at the IRS and I've been in Fortune 100 companies: Time Warner, EMI Music, Calvin Klein Cosmetics and IBM, where I began my career.

What does a good CIO have to do in this current marketplace?

Frank Kist: I think the biggest thing is being able to understand the business needs. It's not technology and feeds and widgets anymore. It's really about understanding the business requirements and finding the best ways to provide solutions in an environment where you can also manage it more effectively.
What are some of the hot trends you're seeing that will impact your customers over the next 12-18 months?

Frank Kist: To me it's security and privacy data. Those elements have not always been “baked“ into the business process where I was at in the past and internally here today. This is mostly due to the acquisition of smaller companies, each with different levels of resources devoted to those items.

Can you talk about cyber security as it relates to your federal customers as well internally?

Frank Kist: Cyber security is critical to the core of what we do. Having a secure infrastructure will insure the protection of our clients. Another step we are going to have to look at is acquiring a FISMA certification. FISMA requires significant effort in documenting controls, processes and procedures.  Privacy is key for our employees and our clients as well as keeping the data protected, which is critical.

How do you keep on top of the latest IT trends?

Frank Kist: A lot of it is internal research. I have peers with whom I speak on a regular basis and I belong to a few associations that help me stay up to date.

What would you say your biggest challenge is as a CIO today?

Frank Kist:
The biggest challenge is getting the trust of senior executives and business groups to insure we are going down the right path in support of the strategic plan. Funding is always a challenge but you live with that day to day. Finally, finding the right IT resources is difficult in these markets.

How does the labor market look to you right now?

Frank Kist: In the DC Metro area until the last few weeks it's been a pretty tight market with very low unemployment and the right skill sets. You can find the right people with the skills sets required, but it takes time.

Tell us about the integration process. What best practices are you looking at to integrate the companies now under your fold?

Frank Kist: The focus is putting everyone on a common infrastructure with common email so people can communicate more easily. The other area is to insure we get the volume of scale in support of operational efficiencies. We're also centralizing and virtualizing our data centers, going from multiple data centers down to two. That will also help us have a smaller footprint as we are virtualizing we're reducing the number of physical servers, network components and computing centers supporting the green initiative.

What do you see your role as CIO two, three years from now?

Frank Kist: I definitely see a growth in supporting the business directly in several instances.  An example, we host project information, at times in different locations. I see us doing that as a shared service where we have hosted facilities that support that information. The benefit is there is a common set of practices, procedures and people who manage this as a service. It would be part of the services we offer and to our internal project teams in support of their clients.

Last question, what is one thing most people don't know about you personally?

Frank Kist:
Family is very important in my life. I've been married 28 years to Anne who is my best friend and we have three grown children.  I enjoy time with family and friends and we live in Reston.

Interview with Frank Kist was conducted by JD Kathuria

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