Shawn O’Brien, corporate business development at TASC, spoke with ExecutiveBiz about the challenges present in the business development as well as his goals for the firm.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got started with your career?
Shawn: I started with a 20-year career in the Air Force. I spent most of those years in the intelligence arm, serving in a variety of the positions throughout the intelligence cycle working on tasking, collection, exploitation, production, dissemination and future systems. After retiring from the Air Force in 1996, I joined TASC and began my second career as a project manager. This was before there was a formal business development (BD) infrastructure at TASC. At the time, business growth was based on customer relationships and sole-source work. I happened to be working on a particular program that was coming up for re-compete and was asked to lead the capture of that program. That was my start in business development. Through various career broadening assignments in BD, I eventually worked my way up to the vice president level.
ExecutiveBiz: What do your current duties at TASC entail?
Shawn: Corporate BD work involves connecting the dots between broad macro factors surrounding the markets you want to enter and then developing and implementing the tactical execution plan to get into those markets. I get to work with many of the functional and operational organizations within TASC and am discovering new things every day.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your current role?
Shawn: The BD challenges over the past 10 or 15 years have been evolving. It is a maturing field. There wasn’t the structure that exists today, with the BD career components of capture managers, business development specialists and proposal managers. Finding talented, quality people experienced in BD is one of the great challenges. Today that challenge is paired with providing effective strategies in early capture efforts. Good strategies that are implemented late in the capture efforts are not highly effective. So the challenge is finding talented people who understand the problem you are trying to solve and who are skilled in implementing those strategies early into the DNA of an offering.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you see as some of TASC?s greatest strengths?
Shawn: TASC is a great company. It is refreshing to be a part of a company where the driving force of the company revolves around quality, where the employees are held in high regard and where the corporate culture is deeply committed to our customers’ mission success, continuous improvement and integrity. It is a great place to work with great people, and I am happy to be here.
ExecutiveBiz: Where do you see TASC in a year?
Shawn: I would rather answer where I see TASC in 5 years. I see TASC growing exponentially as it enters new markets with a nationally-known reputation for providing quality services across the federal government market, leveraging its excellent base from the intelligence community but staying focused on solving our customers’ toughest challenges and serving their mission-critical needs.
ExecutiveBiz: For someone who wants to go into business development what would be the best advice you could give them?
Shawn: There are multiple paths to business development. I think what serves a business developer well is having some experience in line organizations, working with and having a good understanding of the customer base that they are trying to serve. Having someone that would want to walk right into business development from an entry level position is probably not as valuable as it is for someone who has entered business development after running projects or programs.
ExecutiveBiz: In your spare time, if you have any, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?
Shawn: Yes, I have several interests. The most important is my 8-year old grandson. He is a such a fun child and I enjoy spending a lot of time with him. I also have a private pilots license and own a motorcycle, so I get enjoyment out of those activities as well.