Kay Kapoor is managing director and chief executive at Accenture‘s federal practice, where she manages the firm’s federal business around the civilian, defense and security business areas.
Before joining Accenture, the 25-year federal market veteran served as vice president and general manager for ITT Corp.’s advanced information systems unit.
She also spent 20 years at Lockheed Martin, where her most recent position was vice president and deputy of the information systems and global solutions-civil unit.
Kapoor recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about how the company is adjusting to increasing competition around the government contracting industry, as well as new strategies and innovations she’s been working on since joining the company in 2011.
ExecutiveBiz: Briefly describe your position as chief executive of Accenture’s federal services practice.
Kay Kapoor: I am responsible for the overall day-to-day technical and financial performance of Accenture Federal Services, a business with annual revenues of about $1.25 billion.
I oversee every aspect of our federal business, including setting strategic direction, positioning the business in the market, developing and managing customer relationships and developing talent.
ExecutiveBiz: What would you say are some major areas or projects you’ve been working on since joining the company in February 2011?
Kapoor: Focus and execution have always been my key priorities, so it was important to me that we conduct a fresh federal strategy for the business, to focus on what we do well that would better support what our clients wanted and needed. We recently completed an extensive and thorough strategy and business case and have begun implementing our new strategy.
Another one of my key focus areas has been to re-position the business in the federal market. Accenture Federal Services is a wonderful portfolio of programs performing critical work for our government clients.
The business is evenly balanced across the federal space and spans across defense, intel, civilian agencies, homeland security and law enforcement and gives us a great footprint to springboard to the next level.
The job now is to increase the awareness of the portfolio and our strategic capability areas with our current and potential federal customers.
I was also very excited to establish our Federal Advisory Board earlier this year. We are delighted to be working with nationally recognized luminaries with experience across all aspects of the federal government.
Finally, I have always been passionate about mentoring and developing women. When I came to Accenture I created the Federal Women’s Forum, a quarterly forum for networking, sharing knowledge and grooming the next generation of female executives.
ExecutiveBiz: We’ve seen a heightened amount of competition, specifically in the federal contracting industry, throughout the last several years. In what way has this impacted Accenture’s overall strategy and operations?
Kapoor: Government leaders are being asked to do “more with less” and sometimes “less with less”…definitely “more innovation with less.”
This positions companies like ours very well because the culture at Accenture is all about innovation and, especially, the quest for cost-effective innovation. We are seeing strategic cost-management initiatives among our clients and smaller investments focused on reducing operational costs.
This reality creates an opportunity for us to offer truly innovative, cost-savings solutions to our customers as they build the government of the future during today’s tremendous economic and global challenges.
Accenture is a global company working with governments and commercial clients around the world. We are able to bring the best-of-breed of our global and commercial experiences to our U.S. federal clients to help them achieve cost effectiveness in this economic environment.
ExecutiveBiz: More than ever, the government is focusing its efforts on new technologies including C4ISR and Big Data and cloud computing. In conjunction, Accenture was recently included under a potential $171 million Navy contract to analyze command and intelligence systems, define concepts and develop and design systems for interoperability. What measures is the company taking to fortify its technological offerings in order to meet increased government demands?
Kapoor: It is imperative that we stay innovative and be aware of the constantly changing landscape of technological advances.
Accenture Federal Services develops assets that feature the latest technology that we can bring to our clients. We also focus on building a pipeline of talented employees with experience in implementing those technologies.
As I mentioned before we, in the federal part of the organization, benefit greatly from the global reach of Accenture.
We routinely hear about new technologies or offerings that one of our global teams has deployed, enabling us to match these ideas with the needs of our federal customers. We work closely with our global labs and are now setting up our own federal-specific lab to pilot new technologies.
ExecutiveBiz: How has your past experience, including Lockheed Martin and ITT Corp., helped you transition into your current executive role?
Kapoor: I am able to bring everything I’ve learned from my previous positions to my current role at Accenture.
It is an extremely fulfilling role because it allows me to marry up everything I have done in the federal space and apply it to shaping and developing a strong federal-facing organization within a broader umbrella of a collaborative and values-driven culture and an innovative, leading-edge organization.
My previous experiences also helped me develop my leadership style. I stay true to who I am and I try to be genuine in everything I say and do. I hold ethics and integrity above financial performance. And I never forget that every decision I make impacts my employees, clients and shareholders.