Mark Simione of Noblis: Employee development and training still top priority

simione markIn today's economy, the motto, “Faster, better, cheaper“ often prevails “” at the expense of employee development. That's not the case at Noblis, a nonprofit science, technology, and strategy organization based in Falls Church, Va. For Mark Simione, senior vice president, chief financial and administrative officer, and treasurer, of the company, the first order of priority is maintaining a strong employee base, while strengthening an evolving business model. Over the last few years, the company has strengthened its business model and focused its activities in five critical mission areas: National Security & Intelligence, Sustainability, Health Innovation, Transportation, and Enterprise Services. The company grew by 5 percent this past year “” significant given the challenging economic climate. In addition Noblis has been able to maintain a low attrition rate among its 750 employees. “We've have been able to attract very talented staff to meet our clients' mission needs“ says Simione. Recently Simione spoke with ExecutiveBiz about the Noblis mission, and how the company is staying the course while uplifting its employee base.

“Talent management and development is a very key aspect of how we run the company. We have to protect and grow our most important asset!”
“” Mark Simione, Noblis

ExecutiveBiz: Noblis was named one of the 50 best small and medium-sized companies in the nation by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). What sort of infrastructure made that distinction possible?

Mark Simione: We've really emphasized employee engagement. We've made that a central theme. Talent management and development is a very key aspect of how we run the company. We have to protect and grow our most important asset!

ExecutiveBiz: Noblis is a rare example of a nonprofit company in the government contracting space. How does that classification affect your approach to business?

Mark Simione: Being a tax exempt non-profit public interest company, we are not owned by shareholders. So, we don't have any profit targets to make. At the same time, we do have to run the place as a business. We have to make profit in order to reinvest in our public interest mission. For example, we've invested in areas that we knew the payback was substantially long term. We developed, on our own nickel, a recall service, called RASMAS,  in the healthcare sector. It is now deployed in 700 institutions nationwide “” and growing. It helps hospitals close-out recall alerts in the healthcare field. So, instead of taking one to two months, it now takes hospitals two to three days to close out. It took a lot of our own money to develop that technology but we knew the mission could save lives, and we were right.

ExecutiveBiz: In these challenging economic times, how are you still maintaining focus on employee development?

Mark Simione: I know, with the government deficits we all face, the government is putting a lot of pressure on government contractors to lower costs. Noblis has done that without reducing employee development and training. We have said we will not cut back on our investment in people. We will cut back on other things.

ExecutiveBiz: On a personal note, you've been involved in community work. What you can advise others about getting involved?

Mark Simione: I think executives have a lot to offer the community. It starts with finding an area that you can relate to ““ whatever it is in your life that means something to you and then find the organization that relates to that and get involved. I have a developmentally disabled brother. I have been involved with the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation in the DC and Northern Virginia area. They cater to some of the neediest individuals both physically and mentally; because of my brother I can identify with that. I have been the president of the foundation for several years now.

ExecutiveBiz: What can you advise other CFOs in this new decade of government contracting?

Mark Simione: One area a lot of CFOs will relate to is the growing national debt. As government contractors, it's essential to try to be as efficient as possible in our services to the federal government, so we can make a contribution to reducing the national debt.  There are numerous other problems to solve. As we look out, terrorism is not going to go away. Or healthcare. Or climate change. Those are issues that we have to deal with in the face of a huge money crunch. That means that we, as a country, have to make some real hard choices about where we spend your resources and how we transform our institutions. The innovation of our people is central to meeting that challenge.  This is where we are investing our resources.

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