As CEO of Paradigm Solutions, Peter LaMontagne brings two key interests to the table: national security and technology. Since coming on board in 2006, LaMontagne has taken Paradigm, an information technology and business solutions provider, from a growing 8(a) business with a general focus on IT support for civilian agencies, to what he calls “a very focused full and open national security company.” Having transitioned out of the 8(a) program, Paradigm is now moving on to the next level of growth as a “tweener” with roughly 200 employees. In this week’s CEO spotlight, LaMontagne offers tips for other “tweeners” to operate more efficiently. Plus, he weighs in on cyber security trends and the no. 1 thing the commercial sector needs to do to stay competitive on the cyber front.
Could you share some highlights of your 17-plus year career in national security and technology?
Peter LaMontagne: Serving as a foreign service officer, particularly my service at the U.S. embassy in Beijing from 1993 to 1996. We saw China embracing technology, like wireless, in potentially transformational ways. Second, my work at ManTech International. It was a terrific environment for three areas: national security, technology solutions, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
What got you interested in national security?
Peter LaMontagne: It goes back to my undergraduate career. I studied Latin and Greek, as well as political theory, and had a passion for understanding how the United States had succeeded over the years … I just believed in our national priorities and our mission.
What’s the best career advice you ever got?
Peter LaMontagne: In the Foreign Service one of my supervisors said, “You should never choose your next job, you should always choose your next boss.”
What key leadership lessons do you carry with you today?
Peter LaMontagne: Empower your team and encourage entrepreneurship, lead by example through a strong work ethic, and make integrity a core value in your business.
You came on board Paradigm in May 2006. What are you most proud of?
Peter LaMontagne: I’m proud we’ve successfully transitioned Paradigm from being a growing 8(a) business with a general focus on IT support for civilian agencies into a very focused full and open national security company with core expertise in cyber security, cyber forensics, and disaster recovery.
Any tips on weathering tough economic times?
Peter LaMontagne: We weathered a challenging period within Paradigm as we transitioned out of the 8(a) program. During that period we learned to tighten our belt and focus on business priorities. So, we are accustomed to weathering challenges on the economic front. I think that firms such as ours — “tweeners” that are no longer small businesses — have to operate more efficiently, they have to be more agile. Those are the exact skills you need to weather economic challenges.
What bright spots do you see for the industry?
Peter LaMontagne: Cyber security, everything related to the protection of our information assets, as well as examining how the internet and the cyber world is going to impact national security.
What are your top tips for technology solution providers?
Peter LaMontagne: One, integrate security solutions into every IT project you pursue. Second don’t let security prevent IT from delivering the benefits that it’s designed to deliver: facilitating communications and the rapid delivery of information. That’s where smart contracting solutions come in to support the federal government in balancing those two competing priorities.
What’s the no. 1 thing federal agencies need to do to better tackle cyber security?
Peter LaMontagne: To recognize that the government is dependent on the commercial world for its IT infrastructure. Understanding the nexus of commercial infrastructure at the application and IT infrastructure level is critically important to defending that infrastructure as well as operating successfully in an environment where the cyber threats are numerous and increasingly sophisticated.
And the commercial sector?
Peter LaMontagne: As an industry it’s important that we continue to nurture and develop our best IT talent in the direction of cyber security. At Paradigm we are serious about providing our best and brightest IT professionals with a career trajectory and training opportunities that will help them understand how to be prepared for the cyber security challenges of the coming three-, five- and 10-year periods.
Interview conducted by JD Kathuria
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