Vangent's Gio Patterson: Gearing up for $1 billion in growth

Gio Patterson is senior vice president of corporate development for Vangent. Here's her take on today's business development environment for government contractors:

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ExecutiveBiz: Let's start with your team. How did you amass a strong talent pool?

Gio Patterson: We really have brought onboard some of the best talent in the industry, not only business developers but capture managers and proposal operations group, the whole machine to put forth compelling bids. In this marketplace it's really about relationships “¦ people working for people they trust, whom they've had a good experiences with, and who see a company's direction and passion.

ExecutiveBiz: One of your key areas of focus is military health. Tell us about that.

Gio Patterson: We just won another contract to do single sign-on and context management across a wide spectrum of military health applications. We're a prime on D/SIDDOMS 3 (D/3).  Our wins are based on our deep customer knowledge and our innovative technical solutions in that environment.

ExecutiveBiz: Tell us a bit about your GWAC, Center of Excellence. What's your strategy going forward?

Gio Patterson: When Vangent won the Alliant vehicle, we stood up our Government-wide Acquisition Contracts, or GWAC Center of Excellence.  Our strategy going forward is to build out our portfolio of agency specific vehicles as well as the GWACs ““ these are instrumental to a company's growth and continued support of its customers. For example, we're pursuing and have formed excellent teams for both CIO-SP3 and CDC CIMS vehicles.

ExecutiveBiz: Any markets you're pursuing more than others as a result of government budgetary issues?

Gio Patterson: Vangent's history is in both the education and health spaces. We haven't really changed our focus in either. Where the focus is health, we're already a dominant force.  Over 51 percent of our revenue comes from health programs. We're now making a concerted effort to expand in the health space.  We have a well established reputation at military health, CDC, CMS, Indian Health Services as well as other parts of HHS including Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). Our strategy moving forward is to leverage these services and solutions to the research community at the National Institutes of Health and to the state and local level health organizations.

ExecutiveBiz: What best practices have allowed you to grow in this current political and economic environment?

Gio Patterson: Not wasting time on lost leaders. We've stuck to our discipline capture process that requires making tough no bid/bid decisions as early as possible. Whether that's old school or not, it's a proven practice. It's a disciplined approach, and it holds true especially in this challenging marketplace.

ExecutiveBiz: How are you fostering greater ties with government customers? What can you advise others to do the same?

Gio Patterson: To me a best practice is to develop white papers that provide the government ideas and alternatives on any given challenge, then, if they choose one, being able to execute on your recommendations. In our case, backed by a 30-plus year track record in education, we've been studying the Obama Administration's priorities in education. Over the summer, we prepared a white paper that outlined several ideas regarding simplification of federal student aid processing. Through these types of actions, we're better able to understand our customer's hot buttons and develop strong relationships with them.

ExecutiveBiz: How have you been fostering ties with small businesses?

Gio Patterson: Over the last year and a half, Vangent has implemented a small business program led by one of my direct reports, Detra Campbell. Our approach is to build strategic, long-term relationships so both companies grow from shared successes. Similarly, my advice for small to mid-sized businesses is to develop strategic partnerships where they offer complementary skills to the bigger company. Each party must see the “win-win“ and mutual respect in these partnerships.

ExecutiveBiz: Looking ahead, what would you like to accomplish next for Vangent?

Gio Patterson: Beyond our projected revenue goals for 2010 and 2011, our plan is to further diversify our health portfolio in the areas of NIH, state and local health, as well the Veterans Health Administration. That would be huge for Vangent and for the new customers it will serve.

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