You'd think that Chapter 11 would spell bad news for any company. But for BearingPoint's North American Public Services practice it was just the beginning of a bold new start. Back in May, Deloitte purchased nearly all the assets of the unit, which unlike its parent company, had achieved record bookings in the second half of 2008, and tapped Robin Lineberger, then executive vice president of BearingPoint’s Global Public Services practice, to lead the restructured firm forward. Today, Lineberger calls the transition “seamless” and “miraculous “” and for good reason. Nearly 90 percent of BearingPoint's government business employees “” roughly 4,000 client service staff and about 300 support staff “” moved over to Deloitte with him. A loyal employee base, coupled with a more robust pool of offerings, spells greater potential for the business. Lineberger recently shared details of the transition and what’s next for his practice: to become the number one professional services firm in the public sector.
ExecutiveBiz: So, how's the transition going?
Robin Lineberger: Surprisingly well. We engaged the Deloitte team's mergers and acquisitions practice in preplanning for onboarding, as well as post-acquisition integration. That's made this transition come off pretty seamlessly, literally to the point where you kind of want to pinch yourself.
ExecutiveBiz: How does it feel to join Deloitte?
Robin Lineberger: I'm thrilled. Being asked to co-manage the US Federal Government Services business [with Gene Procknow] demonstrates the open-mindedness of Deloitte. It's also great to see Deloitte take advantage of both legacy firms' strengths. We just signed a major lease in Rosslyn, Va., to bring the two teams together rather than continuing to operate out of the separate facilities.
“Don't get distracted by trying to achieve big growth numbers. Focus on the clients you have today, and spend less time looking over at the clients down the street.”
“” Robin Lineberger
ExecutiveBiz: What's been the most rewarding part of the transition?
Robin Lineberger: We can now reinvest in our people and focus more on our customers than we were able to do in the past two years.
ExecutiveBiz: How are you reinvesting?
Robin Lineberger: By following through on our promise to keep our people's skills current through career development and by providing them the appropriate tools to service clients.
ExecutiveBiz: Any changes in strategy afoot?
Robin Lineberger: Yes, and pretty significant ones. Moving from defense to offense is a pretty big strategy change in itself. Pre-acquisition we were defending our market position, trying to keep our employees and clients. Fast forward to where we are today: We are now one of, if not, the top professional services firms in the marketplace, and now we can go on significant offense.
ExecutiveBiz: As you go on the offense, what's your goal?
Robin Lineberger: To become the premier professional services firm to the Federal Government. We're now able to pursue the biggest business challenges that clients are facing across government. And we now have the scale to operate; size is no longer a challenge.
ExecutiveBiz: What has the transition meant to your current clients?
Robin Lineberger: We're now able to take a significantly larger portfolio of solutions to our historical clients. Deloitte's legacy firm not only has the consulting and IT side, which we've strengthened and extended, we have the financial advisory and enterprise-risk services that we only modestly provided [as BearingPoint]. This combined set of solutions allows us to go very aggressively into the market in a way that we hadn't done in five years.
ExecutiveBiz: Change is part and parcel of government contracting. What can you advise our readers in this political and economic climate?
Robin Lineberger: Don't get distracted by trying to achieve big growth numbers. Focus on the clients you have today, and spend less time looking over at the clients down the street. That's what we did; we looked at our current clients as our lifeboat. We knew that if we could work with them, they'd provide us safe passage until we got over to the other side of this change. Also look to reinvent yourself. Create new products and services that maintain your relevance over time. Then when the market is less stressful you not only have a solid client base, you have more alternatives to penetrate new client areas. Lastly, communicate with your people every day about what you're doing.
ExecutiveBiz: What would you like to accomplish over the next year?
Robin Lineberger: One is to finalize the seamless integration of our business. The next is to maintain relevance by driving incremental products and services to their respective channels: Deloitte's legacy services to Bearing Point clients and, correspondingly, BearingPoint services to Deloitte clients. Thirdly, we plan to develop “” and extend “” our people's capabilities through goal setting, individualized career plans, etc. If we do all those things, everything else will fall in line.
ExecutiveBiz: Lastly, on a personal note, you told us back in 2006 that landscaping was a hobby of yours. How's that going?
Robin Lineberger: Well, the backyard is done.
ExecutiveBiz: After three years?
Robin Lineberger: Actually, it's a little unkempt these days. With the distractions over the last few months I neglected to get out with my pruning sheers and spend a little time in the backyard. I'm going to make up for lost time.
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