Quest Software’s Paul Garver: “You’ve got to have an iron stomach”

We had the chance to sit down with Paul Garver, Quest Software’s Vice President, Public Sector. He shared with us what lessons he learned in his time abroad, where he sees IT heading next, and what things are keeping him awake at night. We also learned some of his favorite charitable endeavors and what advice he would give to someone who wants to enter a job like his a few years down the road. Check out the video below for Garver’s 2010 outlook.

ExecutiveBiz: The last time we talked to you we talked about your assignment in Europe.  Can you talk about that and what you learned abroad and about yourself?

Paul Garver: It was a great experience.  It was actually the first time that I had been to Europe.  My wife was very enthusiastic about it.  My kids were nine and six at the time.  What we learned is the deep history, the cultural differences, what it would be like living in a foreign land as a foreigner, the traveling that we did around Europe, the challenges with languages and just the cultural aspects, the uniqueness of the pubs, adapting professionally as an insider, being accepted by the organization, implementing a totally different business model than had been implemented here in the US or in the government market.  It was a quite a challenging experience and a rewarding experience.

ExecutiveBiz: In the past you had mentioned the majority of your revenue had come from DOD.  What is the break down now across public sectors?

Paul Garver: Five years ago we were 70% federal, 30% state and local and of the 70% that was federal 70% of that was DOD which meant about fifty cents of every dollar of revenue was brought in was from DOD and that created pretty significant vulnerability for us so we embarked on a strategy about four years ago to ramp up civilian business practice, ramp up our Intel classified business practice and then aggressively get into state and local business.  We find ourselves now with a split between federal and state & local at 50/50 and then the distribution of the federal revenue is spread fairly evenly across the DOD, civilian and Intel.  We have accomplished the goal.  We are exploiting all markets.  We are operating on all cylinders and far less vulnerable for any peaks and valleys that may exist in any of these particular markets.

ExecutiveBiz: Where do you seeing the government and IT heading next?

Paul Garver: There’s certain areas that I think are areas of interest.  You look at cloud computing, cyber security, the need to consolidate systems particularly in the state & local environment, shared services which usually go along with consolidation.  I think the buzz right now is around cloud computing and all of the benefits that can be derived through cloud computing, economically and architecturally.  Then faced with the challenge of security in a cloud environment, data ownership and that is going to ultimately have to be addressed before cloud computing can be adopted on a full scale basis.

ExecutiveBiz: Which technologies or initiatives do you feel will be the main focus for you in 2010?

Paul Garver: I think virtualization certainly has had a lot of momentum in 2010 federal and state & local agencies have absolutely migrated in mass to a virtualized environment.  Now they are there they have the challenge of how do I manage what used to be physical environment that is now virtual and intangible environment.  We see a lot of activity in our discussions with government around our ability to manage virtualized environments.  In the state & local environment we see stove pipe organizations trying to consolidate under a centralized IT organization that consolidates the services once held by the other departments and then offering shared services in a billable environment.   Technologies are very adept at being able to allow customers to migrate from that nonconsolidated environment to a consolidated environment.  Once there they manage it on an ongoing basis.

ExecutiveBiz: You are tracking the open government initiative.  How is that affecting your business?

Paul Garver: Open government, transparency is beyond a buzzword within this Administration, it is a mandate.  It’s a tough task.  You look at the size of government, whether it is federal and how it trickles down to the state & local level with budget dollars and if the budget dollars are used they have to be reported on.  It’s a big place in government.  The number of systems around and the task and challenge of being able to consolidate that into a transparent, open and accessible environment through reporting web access is a tough one.  It is a challenge in government and it is a challenge in industry.  I believe it will be accomplished.

ExecutiveBiz: What keeps you up at night?

Paul Garver: I think there is . . . at least in Quest and I think Quest is not unique to other companies . . . commercial markets are down quite a bit worldwide.  The belief and the reality is that the government market is in better condition because the budgets are available.  There is a lot of interest in the ability to be able to produce revenue and drive business in that market.  The thing that concerns me is the ability for that engine, that revenue stream, to be able to keep on going as aggressively as it has in the past.  It forces us to be better at what we do.

ExecutiveBiz: At Quest right now you are wearing multiple hats in business development, product marketing functions are there any best practices that you’ve implemented into your organization to help you meet your goals?

Paul Garver: This organization is public sector so that comprises federal, state & local and higher education.  What that results in is we have two fiscal year ends; one in June for the majority of states and then in September for federal government.  We need to be able to have a model and implementation and best practices that allow us to scale to the volumes of that fiscal year end business so we’ve adopted a two tier distribution model.  We have a wonderful partnership with DLT Solutions as our primary partner and what this affords us is the opportunity to participate in the major contracts that are of most interest to our federal and state & local customers to be easy to do business with.  Probably most importantly is to be able to process the volume of business in Q2 and Q3 to coincide with the end of the fiscal years.

ExecutiveBiz: The last time we talked to you we talked about some of your charitable efforts at SVN USO if you can talk about what charitable efforts you are involved in now and which ones you are going to be involved with in the future.

Paul Garver: I think as an organization and as a company we are very active in giving back to the community.  We support a number of organizations.  Last week we participated in a sponsor table at “Dining in the Dark” which is a blindness foundation or organization.  I, personally, am very active within the USO.  I’m a member of the executive board.  There my contribution to the USO is being the Chairman of the USO golf tournament.  It’s seventeen years that it has been going on and last year we generated from industry to the USO over $150,000.  That brings a smile to my face.  That brings a smile to Elaine Rogers who is the President of the USO and that is probably our primary focus.

ExecutiveBiz: What advice would you give someone who wanted to have your job perhaps fifteen or twenty years from now?

Paul Garver: I believe the federal government; state & local government is the most open marketplace in the world.  The information that is readily available to us in terms of budgets, how those budgets are allocated, contract vehicles, the major integrators that participate with those customers, the points of contact, the decision makers – for the most part all of that information is public domain.  It is a level of information that is quite frankly just not available in the commercial marketplace.  The challenge is whether or not you know how to take that information and navigate successfully through the nuances of the marketplace.  My advice to anybody coming into this market, into this position would be to realize there are differences.  At the end of the day selling is selling and customer relationship building is still paramount but knowing the nuances, the importance of partnerships, how to navigate your way through the systems procurement and otherwise is probably the best advice that I could give anybody.  You’ve got to have an iron stomach.

To watch Paul speak about his favorite charities click here.

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