GovCon Executive had the chance to speak with Robert Jones, Jr. of HPTi. Jones serves as the senior vice president as well as a member of the board of directors of HPTi. At his post, he is responsible for HPTi’s corporate development, corporate strategy, human capital, and customer satisfaction. Jones offered us his thoughts on trends in corporate development, his goals for the firm and shared a little about his favorite hobbies.
GovCon Executive: Tell me a little about your background and what drew you to HPTi
Robert Jones: I spent almost twenty years at Andersen Consulting, which is now Accenture. At that time, most of my work was in federal IT and in federal financial systems in the civilian, defense, and Intelligence communities. Twelve years ago, one of the members of HPTi’s then board of advisors was a former Andersen partner whom I had worked for. He had retired from Andersen, and he called me up out of the blue to say that there was a company he was working with that I ought to talk to. I thanked him but said that I wasn’t interested in a new job. He persevered, and I came out and met the founders. I was fascinated by the company and thought it would be a really exciting place to work and a couple of months later I switched over.
GCE: What are some trends you see in the field of corporate development?
Jones: A lot of the work that I do is better classified as corporate capability. I’m responsible for our people, our processes and methodologies, our quality control and our customer satisfaction. A critical trend is the mid-size squeeze being placed on companies our size. Since 1995 the percentage of total contract value awarded to large businesses has grown from 42% to 59%. While small business has lost some market share during this period-a drop from 29% to 26%-the squeeze on mid-size companies has been particularly severe. Since 1995 the market share for mid-size companies has plummeted from 29% to 15%. If left unchecked, soon this squeeze will cause a critical implosion of the mid-size market.
Another trend is the shortage of skilled people our industry is facing. Notwithstanding the economic downturn that has occurred across the country, in the high-end, high-technology federal market, there is a shortage of talent right now, and we’re seeing that both within the federal government and in the companies that support and deliver services to the government. You can add on top of that the coming baby-boomer retirement-which might have gotten delayed a bit by the economy-but it is coming. There are over 70 million baby-boomers and only about 40 million GEN-Xs behind them to replace them. That’s going to further squeeze experience, skill, and talent.
GCE: Do you see that shortage at an upper level or both upper and lower levels?
Jones: Well it’s interesting. It starts at the upper level, as you think of the people that have 30, 40, 50 years of experience retiring. What ends up happening is a ripple-down effect, so as the generation below moves into those roles, there aren’t enough of them to swap out 1-to-1. Suddenly, we have pushed GEN-Y up into roles that 10 or 15 years ago, they wouldn’t have until they’d had much more experience. We have now, in effect, caused a lack of experience throughout all levels.
GCE: What are some goals you have for HPTi in the coming year?
Jones: Well, the key goals are to strengthen our delivery quality consistently across all engagements and all projects-and to bring in the talent that we need. Our systems delivery ability is rated at CMMI/3 and is very strong. I am focused on delivering that same level of quality consistently across our advisory engagements.
GCE: Do you have any advice for a novice in your field to develop their career?
Jones: It helps to be well-rounded. My background was in project management, and then I went into executive line management, where I ran large segments of our projects on the operational side. From this experience I developed a better understanding of the demands of our clients, the demands of our employees, and the demands of our leadership. So when I moved into more of a corporate role, I had a much better sense of how these demands and needs align.
GCE: What is a favorite hobby of yours?
Jones: I have two. One would be golf. I don’t do enough of that, and my game shows it. The other would be photography, which I’m marginally better at.
GCE: What kind of photography do you like to do?
Jones: All kinds. I started out doing sports, anything from auto racing to kid’s soccer and everything in between. I have also branched out into portraits and things like that.
GCE: Do you do that semi-professionally or is it just a hobby?
Jones: To me it’s just a hobby. I was contacted yesterday by a family we know who wanted to hire me to film their daughter’s high school graduation. I said I would do it but not for a fee, because that takes the fun out of it. Photography for me is a hobby-I don’t want the pressure of being paid.