Call Paul Sanford a jack-of-all trades. With 15 years in the federal civilian workforce, he got his start writing COBOL code, one of the oldest programming languages, shifted to program management, proposal writing and now heads up IT firm Emtec's pursuit management team. Since he's been there, he's more than doubled the win rate, he said.
Sanford is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, working in the Intelligence Community.
Did we mention he's also now attending law school?
Sanford shares his perspective on the future of federal IT and partnering with federal agencies, such as the Defense Department, as they navigate through a period of change.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you tell me a little about your background and how you ended up at Emtec?
Paul Sanford: I have 15 years of federal civilian service. I began my career writing COBOL and Assembler code and then moved into project management, where I wrote statements of work and sat on technical evaluation panels evaluating contractor proposals. Since then, I've been working in the consulting field for about the last eight years or so, where I have a strong focus on writing proposals. Eventually, I got into the capture management aspect of it; leading proposals, leading capture and I ended up having some significant wins including winning work above the $100 million level. The largest non-vehicle win is probably around the $300 million mark.
I hold a B.S. in Information Systems, have an MBA and am currently in law school. I am also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, where I work in the Intel community. I came to Emtec because I saw this great opportunity with a company that was in transition and was winning a lot of work. While the industry average win rate is about 25 percent [and] since I've been here, we've more than doubled that win rate. We are almost to 60 percent just in the time that I've been here.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you describe what a director of pursuit management does? What is your day like and what do your duties entail?
Paul Sanford: In this role, I'm responsible for managing all of the opportunities at Emtec; from the time that they are a qualified opportunity through the business development process all of the way through contract award. Then, we actually assist in the transition to the delivery teams. If we are talking about a time period that this opportunity is identified and qualified and the RFP still hasn't come out yet, we are more into a capture role. If the RFP has already come out, then we are a little bit more reactive. But we do provide the proposal management services, certainly we provide contract management services especially when we are around doing teaming, whether we are priming or subbing. We also have to review the terms and conditions of our client's opportunity and then we get into oral coaching as appropriate and then it gets into the transition to the delivery team.
ExecutiveBiz: How would you describe three or four of Emtec's core competencies?
Paul Sanford: The first is our procurement and life cycle services. Emtec Federal has decades of experience managing desktop and server architecture implementations. Our infrastructure life cycle management services provides continuous availability of service and support throughout the life cycle of IT investments, including the full spectrum of IT product acquisition and support services needed for server environments. Services include business process consulting, re-engineering, implementation, migration, maintenance and support at end of life disposition. To get into infrastructure optimization, our focus is on VMWare in the federal sector in the coming year, but also we get to look at other hardware and software solutions and networking and application mobility to optimize distribution and availability of IT services.
Our planning and design services incorporate best practices implementations. We also get into IT service management ““ here we design, configure and install all of the leading business service management tools for IT organizations; their needs to achieve organizational goals. Emtec Federal provides services that improve user experiences, service desk efficiency, ITIL best practices, and IT strategy planning with a staff of experienced consultants who understand both the technical nature of applications as well as the organization's usability requirements. Our fourth core competency is around information management.
We've had a recent acquisition and with this acquisition Emtec Federal now has this core competency in high-performance business intelligence and data warehousing solutions, as well as information management consulting services that focus on the entire life cycle of information. We utilize collaborative, agile approaches and techniques to deliver incremental immediate and sustainable business value to organizations. Our practice area encompasses the domains of data integration, information architecture, information delivery and information management.
ExecutiveBiz: What are your goals and visions for the company and in your role as director of pursuit management? Also, how do you think Emtec can continue to transform IT?
Paul Sanford: Emtec was founded in 1964 and Emtec Federal has traditionally been a VAR (Value Added Reseller). As you can see by our competencies, we have effectively moved into the services market and our goal is to grow revenue in all sectors while we continue to increase the revenue mix ratio to include more services and selling list products. For my personal goals ““ Emtec is growing with the sales and staff pipeline. Our corporate goal, as I said, is to increase revenue in all areas. My organization is growing to support those needs. We are looking to double our staff in the coming months and triple it by the end of the fiscal year. After having said that; we are still using external consultants today, and will continue to need them in the future to flex.
Another goal that we have in my organization is around training our internal staff that support proposals so various groups and individuals in the company can see how they fit into the larger picture . . . the type of information that we need from then and why and how that fits in strategically. The intent is to get them better to provide first draft content from our subject matter experts. We are also looking to continuously improve what we do. We've conducted some internal analysis and feel that we could probably make some changes that will improve our already great win rate, which I said was around 60 percent.
ExecutiveBiz: As a government contractor, this is a period of change within the federal agencies, particularly in the Defense Department. What issues do you think you face as a government contractor in today's climate?
Paul Sanford: We actually see this as a huge opportunity. Having been in conflict for almost a decade, DoD has seemingly limitless budget, which has allowed them to spend significant amounts of money on IT products and services often without having to demonstrate the return on investment. As a result, they are physically running out of space to store additional equipment and now they are under a budget pressure. They are forced to consolidate and even eliminate data centers. There are currently 771 DoD data centers that have been identified for consolidation.
As a leading IT services and infrastructure provider, Emtec is well positioned to assist our customers by helping them to understand their current environment, assess their options and implement best practices that will help them reduce their overall footprint and increase their return on investment. Our expertise in areas such as ITIL V3, virtualization, and application development align perfectly with what the government requires to achieve their efficiency goals.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you do in your spare time? It sounds like you have a lot on your plate, but do you have any outside passions or hobbies that you would like to talk about?
Paul Sanford: Did I mention that I was in law school? I am a little bit busy. Really, the fun comes when I take my 2-year-old out and we spend our weekends with my teenage son to all of his travel hockey games. We make it a family event and, quite frankly, my daughter is my son's biggest fan cheering him on from the sidelines. That's really a great time for all of us to get away for his travel hockey games.