Randy Morgan is a senior vice president at Parsons Corp., an international engineering, construction, technical and management services firm.
He joined the company in 2011 as part of Parsons’ acquisition of SPARTA, Inc., where he served as president and now co-leads the team responsible for integrating SPARTA into Parsons' government services business unit.
Morgan recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about the acquisition, how it will change the business, where the joint Parsons-SPARTA team expects growth and the role contractors can play in tasks such as securing the nation's critical infrastructure.
ExecutiveBiz: SPARTA is now a Parsons company. How does this change the way your business competes for contracts, and does it improve SPARTA's ability to effectively serve its customer base?
Randy Morgan: Parsons acquired SPARTA back in November of 2011. We've have about four and a half months under our belt with the One Parsons team. Parsons is 100 percent owned by the Employee Stock Ownership Trust and has more than 11,500 employees worldwide. It's a natural fit and a fantastic home for SPARTA and its employees. Both companies operate at the high end of the market; we're both focused on technologies, and we're both highly committed to our customers and the missions that they support. Our cultures are very similar, both having roots as employee-owned companies. If you look at our core values, there is almost complete alignment. It's a great place for SPARTA to have ended up.
SPARTA is now being integrated into Parsons government services. PGS is one of three global business units within the Parsons family. PGS is led by Todd Wager, and I report to him. With SPARTA, PGS will have projected annual sales approaching about a billion and a half dollars per year. Having this scale helps the legacy SPARTA business compete much more effectively in today's highly competitive marketplace by providing the resources to aggressively pursue larger opportunities, and provide our customers with a more comprehensive offering that is both cost- and operationally effective.
ExecutiveBiz: What duties does your current position require of you, and how do you work with your leadership team and Parsons' in order to ensure business success?
Randy Morgan: I currently wear two different hats. First, I continue on as president of SPARTA, Inc., as a legal entity. I'm also the co-lead for the team tasked with integrating SPARTA into the One Parsons team and cross-pollinating capabilities between the two entities to help grow the business. As anyone who's been involved with integrating companies will tell you, this is a complicated and extremely important effort with the blending of cultures, talent, processes and systems while simultaneously running the business in a very difficult market environment.
We have to get this right or the consequences will be significant. To the credit of the Parsons executive leadership team, they understand the importance of a successful integration and have dedicated the resources, both in terms of top talent as well as the financial resources to do integration correctly. Once the SPARTA integration is complete at the end of 2012, this upfront investment will pay dividends well into the future as we create synergies and drive the business forward. I'm confident that Parsons and, in particular, PGS will aggressively pursue additional acquisitions.
ExecutiveBiz: How does your experience in previous positions aid you in performing the duties your current position requires of you?
Randy Morgan: I've had the pleasure of working for some great companies, just to name a few: Martin Marietta, Coleman Research, Thermo Electron, L-3, SPARTA and now Parsons. This is a pretty diverse list of companies, ranging from extremely large businesses, down to very small businesses, from hardware companies down to service-oriented businesses with a bit of commercial work sprinkled in.
With my first job out of college, I was put in charge of managing approximately 30 co-op employees in a research and development facility at Martin Marietta. I've been managing and leading progressively larger teams since early in my career. When I left Martin, I moved over to Coleman Research, where I went from a company of more than 50,000 employees to one with less than 100. We were able to grow Coleman to more than 1,500 employees in less than eight years. My days at Coleman taught me the value of franchising each and every member of the team with the importance of growing the business, not just growth for all the obvious reasons, shareholder value and such, but also to enable professional growth of the individual. As in all businesses, people make the difference and enable business success. This commitment to the professional growth of the staff is something I take very seriously.
The last 12 years of my career have been focused on executive leadership and managing larger and increasingly complex organizations. This has helped me broaden my experience base and taught me the critical importance of implementing a fully integrated and comprehensive business strategy. Finally, I've been involved in three acquisitions as a principal. Most recently, I led the divestiture of SPARTA from Cobham plc, which led to the eventual sale of the company to Parsons. Each merger and acquisition process has been different and has helped sharpen my business skills, which hopefully will be applied to future M&A activities here at Parsons.
ExecutiveBiz: SPARTA seems to provide a variety of services. What are some of those services areas, and which of those areas does the company expect to see the most growth in the coming years?
Randy Morgan: As part of Parsons' government services business unit, SPARTA provides the platform for growth within two key market segments: defense and national security. The defense sector is tightly focused on providing high-end, technical and scientific support. Systems engineering and integration is another core competency for our defense and security sector. On the national security side we're focused on two key areas: cybersecurity and reverse engineering. While many companies claim cybersecurity as a core capability, approximately one-third of SPARTA's business“”more than $100 million per year in sales“”is focused on executing cyber programs, something we've been doing for more than 25 years.
Both sectors are also aggressively pursuing technology innovations that are key to supporting our customers and their missions, not only today but also in the future. We'll be opportunistic within the defense and security market to take on increasingly larger prime contracting roles, as well as larger cybersecurity integration efforts across the board. It should be no surprise to anyone that that's where we expect some of our greatest growth will be realized in the future.
ExecutiveBiz: It seems like you have a good bit of experience with acquisition management of complex space and ground-based strategic weapon systems. What are the primary things to consider when developing, selling and then delivering these types of systems?
Randy Morgan: I would say complex weapon systems in general, because almost all of our systems have become very complex, and I have worked on a good number and variety of them. I think there are two key drivers: 1) time to market, and 2) the value that your offering represents to any customer. Recent experience supports the notion that long gone are the days of traditional acquisitions where it took anywhere from 10, 12, maybe even 20 years for a major weapon system to go through traditional acquisition starting with concept development, research, design, development, test and evaluation and ultimately fielding.
Technology is moving too fast and the patience is no longer there on the part of our customers. This new environment demands that we include customers early on and continuously throughout the design and development process. It demands that we apply an agile development process that includes rapid prototyping of systems so that we can identify issues and ring them out of the system early on, and get these capabilities in the hands of our customers sooner rather than later.
ExecutiveBiz: What role can contractors play in securing and defending the nation's critical infrastructure?
Randy Morgan: I absolutely agree that contractors play a vital role. To truly defend this nation it will require a partnership between government and the contractor workforce. In most cases, the contractor community invests its own resources, innovates and develops the key technologies that will enable or improve our defenses.
Additionally, the contractor workforce must work more effectively with our commercial counterparts to develop more robust defensive measures based on commercial products and processes that may be more efficient. Much more work lies ahead, but I'm confident that more commercially available systems and technologies can be brought to bear to secure and defend our critical infrastructure.