The last time we caught up with Mike Stolarik he was head of the Mission Solutions Group at QinetiQ North America, a roughly $600 million organization focused on IT, engineering, and security for defense, intelligence, space, homeland and other federal civilian agencies. Now comes word that Stolarik has been tapped QinetiQ North America’s new president and chief operating officer. Here Stolarik shares a few insights into QinetiQ’s growth and what’s next for the company.
How does QinetiQ North America compete against large business integrators in the marketplace?
Mike Stolarik: We focus on our customers’ missions. We bid on jobs that support, and therefore require detailed knowledge of, the mission. We stay away from bids that tend to be commodity oriented. We’re able to support rocket launches for NASA and defense customers because we employ rocket scientists and mission specialists; we are successful in fixed price software development projects because we have skilled software developers and disciplined practices — and we understand the mission needs and requirements. We have bright and capable people who work directly with customers. We also have a very responsive approach embedded in our management structure: the customers can get to our senior people quickly and easily.
What are some hot trends you are tracking?
Mike Stolarik: First, we are putting a lot of emphasis on the cybersecurity market. Second, across the board, we’re focusing on helping our customers do more with fewer resources. This in many ways is a welcome trend to us since we are not a big platform provider. Rather, we operate where we focus on delivering efficiency and effectiveness, and we will continue to do that.
What do you think of the overall cyber threat and what solutions are you offering customers?
Mike Stolarik: The threat is clearly pervasive. Many aspects of our approach are proprietary, but in simple terms we have an approach that balances a strong offense with defensive tools, methods and approaches.
QinetiQ has a history of acquisitions. What is the current thinking on acquisitions in the midst of the current economy?
Mike Stolarik: We will continue to focus on the federal government, so acquisitions that will help us do business in the federal government will clearly be the highest priority. Within the federal government, we are emphasizing the intelligence community and the departments of defense and homeland security, where we are looking for special activities. For example, if we were to find a company that had a strong cyber offering, they would clearly be of interest. We’re also interested in expanding our work for NASA and other space customers. The work we have done to drive down per-launch costs is important and valuable in the current economic environment.
What’s your biggest challenge in business today?
Mike Stolarik: Recruiting is a big challenge, probably the biggest challenge. We work in areas where the competition for employees remains fierce. We have won a number of large opportunities that require a large number of hires, so we have a strong recruiting campaign. To maintain the quality of what we do, we really have to fight for the best employees. In addition to that, a lot of our employees have special security clearances, so we are dealing with an even scarcer commodity.
How would you describe your management style?
Mike Stolarik: Open and direct.
In all the years you’ve been in the government contracting space what have you learned about what it takes to be successful?
Mike Stolarik: Real understanding of the customer’s mission is absolutely vital. We are in the business of understanding what the customer really wants and needs, and to be successful we have to continue to focus on helping our customers succeed in their mission. They can reach me; they can reach our CEO Duane Andrews. They know that it’s not just a business for us — we want to help the customer succeed.
What’s something most people don’t know about you personally?
Mike Stolarik: I like fast cars.
What’s your favorite car?
Mike Stolark: Porsche Carrera.
How fast does that go from 0 to 60?
Mike Stolarik: The turbo does it in 3.8 seconds.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Mike Stolarik: Our high-end engineering capabilities, combined with our IT and security skills, really distinguish us. We do rocket science. We make a profit on fixed-price software development projects. We cover a broad spectrum with mission-focus as a unifying theme. And, finally, QNA is a great place to work.
Interview conducted by JD Kathuria
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