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Executive Spotlight: Steve Stratton of QinetiQ North America

Executive Spotlight: Steve Stratton of QinetiQ North America - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Executive Spotlight: Steve Stratton of QinetiQ North America - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Steve Stratton, QinetiQ North America

QinetiQ North America is more than the “robot company,“ Steve Stratton, vice president for business development there, says.

For a billion-dollar government-contracting giant, its mentality is that of a “nimble start-up,“ with competencies in survivability products, service-oriented architecture and cybersecurity, he explains.

And, as the nation and the industry rebound from an uncertain economic climate, Stratton who says he focuses on the opportunities rather than the issues or challenges, tells ExecutiveBiz what to look for in 2011: from cybersecurity to federal IT reform.

ExecutiveBiz: Can you tell me a little about your background and how you ended up at QinetiQ North America?

Steve Stratton: I joined the Army in 1973 and was assigned to the White House Communications Agency (WHCA).  After the WHCA, I went to the Secret Service and eventually graduated into working for SAIC at MacDill Air Force Base to help start up Central Command.  After my active duty time, I spent 20 years in the National Guard and retired from the Maryland 20th Special Forces Group. During my time at SAIC, I got to know Mr. Duane Andrews very well and also Suzan Zimmerman, our SVP for corporate development. After Suzan moved from SAIC to QinetiQ North America, she started a pursuit project to get me to join the team; earlier this year, I accepted the offer and am really enjoying it here.

ExecutiveBiz: In your current position as senior vice president for business development, can you explain what your day-to-day duties entail?

Steve Stratton: My charter is very simple.  I am here to help our operating groups (Mission Solutions Group, Systems Engineering Group and Technology Solutions Group) refine our business development (BD) processes and produce the results we need for our growth plan.

A day in the life of Steve Stratton involves a combination of things going on. I work with the senior BD leadership in our three operating groups to help define cross-group campaigns and solutions that we would want to bring to our customer base. I also interact with the group BD staff, who works on internal projects and capture activities that focus on streamlining our BD processes and delivering the needed results. As needed, I help support our proposal process with reviews and ideas on proposal content.

ExecutiveBiz: I was wondering if you could give me a sense of three or four core competencies offered by QinetiQ North America. What does your firm do better than any other?

Steve Stratton: Most people know QinetiQ North America as the Explosive Ordnance Detachment (EOD) robot company. Also, they know our survivability products, which, of course, are in the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan to support our warfighters.

We're much more than that. We are leaders in service-oriented architecture (SOA), simulation and training, IT management and definitely cybersecurity.  For the U.S. Customs and Border Protection“”a customer of ours“”we've done extensive SOA work that combines biometrics radio and information transfer. This work allows agents along the border to actually take biometrics and quickly determine if this is a person of interest who is on a watch list or has been through the system before. That's a great project that worked out very well. It demonstrates our SOA and engineering leadership.

What the government knows and values about QinetiQ North America is our ability to quickly respond with innovative solutions. One of the things that impressed me the most about QinetiQ North America was how we rapidly respond as a corporation to build innovative solutions like the Q-Net System, one of our survivability solutions, and how we have adapted our robots beyond traditional IED functionality to provide first responder support, mapping and hazmat warning capabilities. This company acts more like a very nimble start-up in its mentality and its entrepreneurship, and I really appreciate that. You don't find that often at billion-dollar corporations.

ExecutiveBiz: What do you see on the horizon for the company and for your position within it?

Steve Stratton: My primary goal is to exceed my charter and help the groups maximize our BD capabilities so that we can achieve our growth plan.  I have a vision of QinetiQ North America that brings the best of what we have to offer in our intellectual property and capabilities from each group and combines those into solutions for our customer base.  That vision includes bringing that capability to every opportunity where we work for every existing and new customer.

ExecutiveBiz: In this particular economic climate as a government contractor working with the government, a lot of the focus seems to be on trimming the budget.  What issues do you face, and how do you deal with those?

Steve Stratton: We have been impacted by in-sourcing and funding issues, and we are working diligently with our customer base to continue our combined tradition of success through innovation. I believe that the genesis of most true innovative solutions comes from environmental demands, like limited resources. While everybody talks about doing more with less, the fact is we are a deeply technical company. We have a span of products and intellectual property, and we can bring more than just services. We can bring truly innovative solutions to our customer base, and that's where we need to keep the focus.

ExecutiveBiz: You have particular depth of knowledge in defense, DoD and Department of Homeland Security.  What issues do you think we should look for in the next year?

Steve Stratton: Instead of issues, I look for opportunities. I see defense of the United States itself continuing to get considerable funding and emphasis in the new year. I also see further alignment of DHS, law enforcement, the Intelligence Community and the military as permitted by law. Critical-infrastructure protection will continue to be a focus for the government as we try to get commercial entities to come on board. On the DoD side, I see a continuing growth in Special Operations Forces and their deployment to actually fight and deter terrorism.

Across the board, I see a need to fight the enemy in cyberspace. Right now, I think the opportunity here is to take the fight to these online terrorists and use products like QinetiQ North America's Cyveillance to get inside their decision cycles, understand what they are thinking, identify their targets and get ahead of the game to deter their attacks before their malicious applications, viruses and Trojan horses become operationally effective.

I also look forward to more acquisition reform. I think that we are on the cusp of seeing acquisition reform that takes the acquisition process and aligns it much better with mission requirements. That way, we are not using acquisition processes built for major weapons systems when we need to buy an IT system. There's considerable opportunity out there that I am looking forward to in 2011.

ExecutiveBiz: What do you think is the secret to successful business development?

Steve Stratton: For me it is all about relationships and trust. My mentor, when I first moved from engineering into business development, kept that at the forefront every day. It is about relationships and trust. If you are trying to create a new relationship, you're going to have to build and earn that trust so that you become that true trusted partner that is an adviser to your customer base. When I talk to young people who are starting in the BD role, what I put forward is relationships.

ExecutiveBiz: What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies you like to do?

Steve Stratton: I enjoy the outdoors in general. I also serve as the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the Special Forces Association.  We actually do a lot of work with the Fisher House at Walter Reed and wounded warriors. That is definitely a passion of mine ““ supporting the troops and, in particular, the troops that come back injured and are working to regain their lives. That is something that I focus on a lot.

ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Steve Stratton: QinetiQ North America has a strong reputation of quickly providing innovative solutions based on the mission needs and requirements of our customers.  I'm looking forward to helping build upon that strong reputation.

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