ExecutiveBiz recently had a chance to speak with John Sutton, Senior VP for Defense and Intelligence at ManTech’s Mission, Cyber and Technology Solutions group. He told us about ManTech’s current “hiring spree,” and the challenge of mentoring hundreds of skilled professionals at a cutting-edge technology company, as well as his volunteer work coaching youth hockey in Reston.
ExecutiveBiz: What is your background and current role at ManTech?
John Sutton: I’ve been in government IT for twenty-five years and prior to that I spent five years after college in the Merchant Marine as a ship’s officer. Currently I’m the Senior VP for Defense and Intelligence in the ManTech Mission, Cyber and Technology Solutions group, one of three groups in ManTech. My group, led by Bill Varner, provides high-end technology services that include cyber, network security engineering, services oriented architecture for mission IT systems, data interoperability and intelligence analysis and operations support.
ExecutiveBiz: You used to work at McDonald Bradley which was acquired by ManTech. What did you learn most from that experience?
John Sutton: Teamwork is a key to building any business, whether large or small. McDonald Bradley, which I joined in 2002, was the first small business that I worked for on the Beltway. We developed a high level of synergized teamwork among the senior team and that was quite helpful as we doubled the size of the company prior to becoming a merger and acquisition candidate.
My biggest challenge is coaching and mentoring the hundreds of talented people in my organization who are located all over the country … I work with my leadership team on a regular basis to ensure that our employees are getting the training and career development support they need.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the hot trends that your customers at ManTech are concerned about the most?
John Sutton: Our customers are looking closely at cloud services, Web 2.0 and cyber. All areas where we have significant expertise and capabilities. They are also interested in how IT solutions can help them reduce costs and where they can capture efficiencies in operations and maintenance and their IT infrastructure.
ExecutiveBiz: ManTech is on a big hiring spree. Can you talk a little bit about the culture of ManTech and how that’s evolved into what it is today?
John Sutton: You are correct. We are growing rapidly and to meet those growth needs, we are actively hiring. We will soon exceed the 9,000 employee mark. We have been hiring across all three groups within ManTech. In Mission, Cyber and Technology we are looking for professionals with IT skills, experience in cyber and related technologies, and other areas such as mission operations. ManTech supports its customers in 40 countries and we are forward deployed and strategically positioned alongside our customers. We are looking for skilled, and cleared professionals to support our customers in DOD, the Intelligence Community, the State Department and at other locations around the world. Our culture is strong and very focused on mission support and our employees. We have a people-first focus that encourages employee growth and development.
ExecutiveBiz: How does your division at ManTech look to grow and expand?
John Sutton: Our biggest growth is through our short game and our long game. By that I mean in our short game we have a number of IDIQ contracts where we position business through those contracts. In parallel, we’ve got a very robust pipeline of top new business targets that will be either take-aways from the bigger companies or new programs where our customers are investing in new missions and requirements. We are also focused on identifying and supporting our customer’s mission-critical activities. We align our growth strategy with the customer’s strategic vision and we look to invest and be positioned so we can meet their critical requirements and provide the advanced technology solutions they will need for the next five years.
ExecutiveBiz: What would you say is your biggest challenge in your current job?
John Sutton: My biggest challenge is coaching and mentoring the hundreds of talented people in my organization who are located all over the country and to help them deliver top performance to our customers. I work with my leadership team on a regular basis to leverage those talents for the benefits of our customers and also to ensure that our employees are getting the training and career development support they need.
ExecutiveBiz: What is something most people don’t know about you personally?
John Sutton: I grew up in Massachusetts and since I was five years old I’ve been playing ice hockey. I’ve been in Virginia for the last twenty-five years and I’ve been coaching ice hockey for most of that time. Two of my sons and one of my daughters have played hockey. The two boys have continued to play and I’ve been involved in the Reston Youth Hockey program as a coach for the last eighteen years. The work I do coaching and mentoring kids and getting them to be top performers is very analogous to business where you are constantly coaching your people to operate and perform as a team and at their peak. Ice hockey is also similar to our business because it is high speed with a lot of contact and it is constantly changing. Much like the business environment in Washington. And yes, although I grew up in Massachusetts, I am also a Caps fan.
ExecutiveBiz: ManTech is well-regarded in the industry for your ability to provide secure, information collaboration solutions. Any new developments in this area?
John Sutton: As you may know, ManTech helped develop A-Space, an analytic information sharing and collaboration program for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence through a contract with the Defense Intelligence Agency. We have recently invested in an R&D solution called GovKonnex, an information collaboration solution that is being piloted by several government customers. GovKonnex helps government agencies to support the Administration’s Web 2.0 initiatives to improve transparency and information sharing with other government and non-government organizations. GovKonnex is available as a service solution and it has attracted a great deal of interest in the government community.