Attain’s Mike Fox: Big business experience meets small business edge

Attain's Mike Fox: Big business experience meets small business edge - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Attain's Mike Fox: Big business experience meets small business edge - top government contractors - best government contracting eventApplying large business experience to a small business environment is a real competitive advantage. It's also one that Mike Fox brings to the table at Attain.

Founded in 2009 following BearingPoint's sale to Deloitte, Attain is making strong inroads into federal, state, and local government markets “” as well as the higher education and nonprofit arenas “” as a public sector professional services company.

Or, what Fox likes to call, a “start-up on steroids.“

A 22-year veteran of the industry “” much of that time spent at SRA International “” Fox came on board Attain earlier this year. He sensed an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

Not your average start-up

“Attain is not your average start-up or small business,“ says Fox, vice president of corporate business development and chief strategy officer. “It's rare to find a company our size with the experience, depth of knowledge, and insights into the federal market that was already in place here at Attain.“

That's not just talk, either. Along with Fox, Attain's leadership includes industry veterans such as Greg Baroni, the company's CEO who previously spent seven years in a leadership capacity at Unisys Corporation.

It's that kind of leadership that attracted Fox to Attain in the first place. “I knew I could look around the table and know that I'm working with folks who have a lot of experience and very successful track records.“

Key wins

Fox is looking to build on that track record. His first six months on the job led to some impressive feats; key wins have included a major bioinformatics contract at NIH, a large IT managed services engagement at USDA, and significant subcontract roles on several DHS programs. Attain has also secured its GSA IT Schedule 70 and the Seaport-e contract vehicle as a prime. Efforts are now underway, on CIOSP-3, CAPSII and Eagle II as a prime, as well as the LCSS, T4, DOJ ITSS contracts.

At the same time, Fox is focused on building out the company pipeline in four primary “swim lanes“. One of those areas centers on major ERP programs. Attain has strong SAP and Oracle ERP qualifications and has delivered several large ERP programs on both the DoD and civilian side.

Attain is also pursuing work in health research and bioinformatics, particularly with NIH and CMS, as well as in business process outsourcing, infrastructure management (areas like cloud computing, email migration and collaboration services, data center consolidation, security, and identity management).

Program management and acquisition support is another key area. One of Attain's first large opportunities was providing that capability to the Army National Guard.

Keeping that momentum going requires a deft touch. For Fox, that means not relying on the usual props of the trade. As a professional services company, Attain follows a sales model that's different from a systems integrator. “In most cases, when we go in and talk to customers, we don't go in with a big slide deck,“ says Fox. “It's really more of a dialogue “” what we've done before, what we've learned, what's worked for us, and how we think we can help,“ he says.

Small business advice

In positioning Attain for some prime spots, Fox is helping the company make a name for itself among large integrators as the small business prime of choice. Over the summer, Attain bid on a large Army ERP program, valued at $250 million. “Several very large integrators wanted to get on a prime team “¦ when they looked at Greg [Baroni] and other Attain leadership, they felt confident that, if they were to join our team, they'd benefit from our mature capture process and proposal capabilities that many small businesses haven't yet developed,“ says Fox.

That's the kind of approach that Fox recommends other small businesses follow. “A lot of times, small businesses lead with the fact that they're a small business .. or they're an 8(a) “¦ or they're woman-owned,“ says Fox. “My advice,“ he says, “would be to lead with your strength, your capabilities, your experience, and your resources “¦ impress your customer or partner with those, and then you can say, “˜Oh, by the way, we're a small business, too.'“

Meanwhile, it may not be long before Attain transitions to the next level of growth: as a mid-tier player. Fox is already thinking more than a few steps ahead, building out the pipeline for the next wave of bids and opportunities.

Throughout, Fox is staying true to his own personal values. Especially, in mentoring future BD leaders. It's a value, he says, he learned from former SRA CEO Renny DiPentima. “Renny has always been accessible, I learned from him “” we are all in this together and we all need to share our experiences,“ says Fox.

As for Attain, it's heads down as they drive toward the next win, and the ones after that.

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