It's been less than two years since Andy Maner took the helm of National Interest Security Company, an information technology and mission services provider based in Fairfax, Va. In that short amount of time, Maner has positioned NISC for the greatest possible relevance in two main areas: mission services and information solutions. Recently, Maner shared some of the latest technology solutions afoot at NISC “” its work in document media exploitation and information and mission management solutions “” and how he's strengthening the company’s hold in five primary markets: intelligence, homeland security, defense, energy, and federal health/civilian.
NISC is a relatively new player on the information technology front. What challenges have you encountered along the way?
Andy Maner: We’ve set a challenge to constantly differentiate ourselves to our clients and partners. We aim to do this through unique, high-end technology solutions and methods, knowledge of our clients' missions, and a highly trained workforce. With that in mind, we’ve chosen to acquire companies that are well established in their markets and have intimate knowledge of their clients' missions. For example, NISC Mission Services' Energy group, formerly Technology and Management Services, Inc. (TMS), has been working in the Department of Energy for more than 35 years. We also strive to differentiate ourselves in the quality of our employees by constantly bringing them offline for professional development.
How do you further your employees' professional development?
Andy Maner: Professional development means teaching methods to our people from seasoned experts. NISC has hired distinguished leaders. We ensure that they share and disseminate their knowledge through the ranks. If you look at some of the people in our company and board “” people like General Anthony Zinni, Jose Rodriguez [former director of the CIA National Clandestine Service], Don Kerr [Former Principal Deputy Director for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Director of the National Reconnaissance Office] “” you'll find individuals we have invested in to ensure our people can learn the latest methods and solutions and appreciate the mission of the client.
Speaking of mission, document media exploitation and information management is something you're providing clients. Where is that demand being felt the most?
Andy Maner: Our U.S. government clients “” defense, intelligence, homeland security, energy “” all need to constantly utilize and exploit information of all kinds: visa applications, intelligence, medical data, satellite photographs, and many other kinds of information. It does not benefit our operators/clients if they can only utilize this information 30, 40, 60 days or even years after collection. We're helping our clients utilize information in a much more efficient manner so it can be better utilized for their current missions. Our GoCo (Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated) facilities in nearby West Virginia allow us to offer efficient hosted information solutions.
Portfolio analysis is also a promising new area for NISC. Tell us about that.
Andy Maner: Sure, NISC is building a significant practice around “real portfolio analysis“ “” a concept centered on where agencies, program offices, and operators should apply their resources. For example, we've developed, a highly differentiated quantitative methods, such as Mission Management Toolkit, for analyzing mission challenges. In a tightening fiscal environment, our customers are seeking to become much more adept in how they spend their next incremental dollar.
Roughly 30 percent of NISC's work is subcontracting. What does it take to be an effective sub?
Andy Maner: If you're not fortunate enough to be the prime, you should provide your partner with something significant that will add value to the client, proposal process, and overall delivery. At NISC, we focus on three points of differentiation: solutions, people, and customer intimacy. Along with our employees, we have a lot of technology in cybersecurity, document management, multilingual exploitation, and petabyte storage and hosting solutions. Additionally, we have invested significantly to acquire and teach domain expertise to all of our employees, so that when we show up on a client site we know exactly what the client does.
Any tips for other mid-sized companies on weathering the economic challenges ahead?
Andy Maner: Manage your company around investments in your people and ensuring you are differentiating in your solutions. That should drive your whole strategy. We also ensure we have a clear strategy, solid unwavering ethics, and constant and meaningful communication with our employees.
As you look ahead, what are your top goals for NISC?
Andy Maner: To continue to grow 20 percent a year organically, to continue to be a great partner to our clients and primes, and to acquire added capabilities to help us better serve our clients. Most of all, we want to invest significantly in our people and constantly be bringing in innovative technology and new ideas to our current core customers.
What keeps you up at night?
Andy Maner: Having been in government myself, at the Department of Homeland Security, I always try to keep thinking about the challenges that our clients are facing. Too often, the private sector speaks in their own lingo, not that of their clients.
What do you think is the secret to time management?
Andy Maner: Not to sit around and do email all day. Remember that CEOs and presidents are responsible for strategy/vision and all human capital. Get out with your employees, stakeholders, and clients.
What are you reading now?
Andy Maner: Strategy Pure & Simple II by Michel Robert. I read a lot of strategy books “” General Zinni recommended this one “” and it's not letting me down.
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