Al Pisani is the Vice President of Intelligence Operations at TASC. We had the opportunity to talk with him about TASC post divestiture, what was special about it, and why Pisani decided to be apart of it. Pisani also shared with us some of his passions outside of work and what the results of his Myers Briggs test reveal about his personality.
ExecutiveBiz: Since you have been a part of Northrop since 1989 and now you are a part of TASC could you talk about the past roles you've had and how that helps you in your current role?
Al Pisani: I joined TASC in 1989 to support the ballistic missile defense area in the exciting days of “Star Wars.“ With my background in technical cost analysis, I was responsible for modeling and estimating the cost effectiveness of various missile defense architectures. From there I rose up the ranks and held a variety of management positions. I was Vice President for the Information Superiority Operating Unit managing a $475 million a year business that focused primarily on supporting the Intelligence Communities and the intelligence components of the DoD. In 2007, Northrop Grumman leadership asked me to run a $500 million P&L center in the civil federal space. Two years later, I ran the business development function for the $2.5 billion Civil Systems Division. This business involved providing IT support and services to the federal government as well as state and local and international customers. This learning experience allowed me to become much more conversant in the IT needs of larger enterprises, a skill that translates to my current Intelligence Community customer. In September 2009, I was offered the opportunity to come back to TASC and jumped at it.
“I think our new status as an independent company will allow us to be even more mission-focused and to work even smarter and faster.” – Al Pisani
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk about what's special about TASC post divestiture““we talked a little bit about why you decided to join but maybe you could expand upon that. This is our legacy and is also our future.
Al Pisani: I was delighted to come back to TASC. TASC is a premier provider of advisory, technical and decision support services to customers in all areas of national security. The TASC brand is unmatched in the intelligence community. I can say this with confidence having 20 years of experience in this community. My unit focuses on tactical and strategic work for our intelligence customers. Much of this work is critical to our government and our country’s security. It is gratifying to be part of such exciting and important efforts. I think our new status as an independent company will allow us to be even more mission-focused and to work even smarter and faster.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk about your main priority and what your top goals are for 2010?
Al Pisani: Without a doubt, continuing our unwavering support to our customers is our top priority. It’s one of the reasons I came back to TASC, and my key goal is to continue to enable our customers' mission success“”everything we do starts there. Our second priority is transforming TASC from a division of a larger enterprise, to a company with a clear mission and vision for the future, built on our heritage of excellent performance, integrity, teamwork and continual improvement. Being part of a large corporation may have impacted our agility and ability to support our customers as quickly and as smartly as we have in the past. This is a natural artifact of being part of a very large enterprise. Now, as a midsized firm, our management structure is much flatter. This should translate into making quicker decisions and improving the transparency and accountability. We are creating an empowered and collaborative environment where people work closer together and are able to articulate all that TASC has to offer. When a customer buys from my unit, he or she is buying from all of TASC.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk a little bit about the ownership structure of TASC.
Al Pisani: There are two primary partners of TASC“”KKR and General Atlantic. Our partners are in many respects the originators of private equity efforts and we are very fortunate to work with them. They do not have other firms in this space, which means there is no conflict of interest, and they are relying upon us–the TASC leadership team–to know the business to make the company successful. That puts the burden on us, but it also allows us, and only us, to make decisions we believe are in the best interest of our customers, employees and business. They consider TASC a platform for growth and consequently, are supporting us and investing in our continued development. Organizational conflict of interest will play an increasingly important role as a discriminator in our business and will lead to larger markets for de-conflicted companies like TASC. We think we are only at the beginning of a new stage of growth and are looking for other areas where we can expand.
ExecutiveBiz: What would you say your biggest challenge right now is?
Al Pisani: My biggest challenge is access to the right talent. The pool of individuals who are highly skilled and possess the right credentials is limited. We often compete for talent with other companies in our industry as well as sometimes with our government customers. One of my priorities is finding the people who meet our high standards and can solve complex problems and issues for our customers.
ExecutiveBiz: What would you say your strategy to compete and win is?
Al Pisani: My strategy to compete is to act smart, act fast and to provide the solutions that fit our customers' needs. To accomplish this, we must possess a deep understanding of the customer mission. Many of the folks at TASC have lived the missions of our customers, and I believe this deep understanding and appreciation for the mission is instrumental in competing successfully for work within our customer sets. It's all about mission orientation and working side by side with our customers–whether it's back in the laboratory or out in the field.
ExecutiveBiz: The OCI transaction was a big deal in terms of a lot of people watching it. Was there anything you learned from that that was interesting““that process that you would be willing to share on a macro level for future OCI transactions for other people?
Al Pisani: I always knew TASC was a great company, which largely explains why I came back. When you look at TASC the way that the private equity folks do, you really start to realize how unique we are. It's a great business to be in with a great brand that is valued and recognized. I think this is just the beginning. While other companies are worrying about the conflict of interest problem, we are poised to grow the business significantly. , The due diligence process of the private equity process gave us the chance to deepen our appreciation for who we are and what we stand for. The more you learn, the more you understand and realize what a unique company TASC is. In many ways TASC is a $1.6b “startup“ which is an awesome situation to be in.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk about some of your passions outside of work?
Al Pisani: I have three teenage boys and their passions are my passions. We spend a lot of weekends at various sporting events: soccer fields, lacrosse fields, basketball courts and more. We also have a house at the beach where my family absconds every summer. Joining them at the beach, playing golf and just hanging out with the kids before they launch off to college is what I enjoy. My passions are simply my family, as well as my church and anything to do with Pittsburgh sports.
ExecutiveBiz: What is something that most people don't know about you personally?
Al Pisani: On the Myers-Briggs scale I am an introvert, but when it comes to business and sports I am an extremely competitive person. I delight in the chase, love to win and hate to lose. I am building a leadership team that thinks and acts in that manner“”we strive for excellence.