Mark Jendzejec serves as senior vice president for civilian and intelligence agencies at STG Inc., where he leads a team that provides and supports information technology environments and linguistic and analytic services for its clients.
The 34-year industry veteran previously spent 24 years with Northrop Grumman and ultimately held a vice president role for several operating units focused on IT and mission support.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Jendzejec discusses how sequestration will impact STG’s lines of business in the context of how GovCon has evolved over the course of his career.
He also charts STG’s growth since he first joined the firm close to three-and-a-half years ago.
ExecutiveBiz: What are your primary responsibilities at STG and who are some of your main customers?
Mark Jendzejec: We’re mainly targeting federal agencies in the civil and intelligence market space as well as international customers. STG's core competencies are enterprise network operations, software engineering, systems engineering, financial services, and linguistics and intelligence solutions, and my sector encompasses all core competencies. Our largest and longest-supported customer in the sector is the Department of State, where STG-supported programs are in Consular Affairs, Bureau of Information Resource Management, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Bureau of Human Resources and the Bureau of the Controller and Global Financial Services. We also have a strong presence in DHS, HUD, NOAA, SEC, DEA, FBI, Coast Guard, Department of Transportation, and Veteran Affairs. Our presence also extends into the Intelligence Community (IC), particularly in language services.
As the SVP for Civil and Intelligence Agency Sector, I oversee the contract services of approximately 700 STG employees and partners. I am responsible for leading the development of our sector strategic growth initiatives ““ targeted at expanding our core competencies and the STG brand in select customer environments. I believe one of the reasons my Sector has been so successful in recent years has been my push to ensure my vice-presidents and directors, even pertinent program managers, are engaged in the entire contract cycle, the end-to-end contracting process: from solutions and capture planning to contract close-outs. By ensuring operational responsibility, I know we develop realistic, executable solutions, plans and proposals. As a result we have happy customers and we have enjoyed high award fee ratings. I am also firm in my belief that this level of accountability and engagement is developing a great group of high-performing leaders.
ExecutiveBiz: When did you join STG and what attracted you to the company?
Jendzejec: As you saw in my response to your last question, STG has allowed me to implement my management philosophy in leading my sector. This is in large part because my philosophy fits neatly into the company's philosophies of “one team, one mission, and one goal“ and our “circle of success“: STG takes care of the people, our employees; they, in turn, take care of our customers. A satisfied customer supports the company in future endeavors, as well as invites the company back on future competitions. Another attraction to STG for me was the opportunity to join a mid-tier company with an aggressive outlook on growth but also an absolute penchant for honoring our commitments to our customers.
Further, STG’s brand, and its business model, is centered on agility and performance in a cost-effective and reliable manner. Our approach is very different from the larger integrators and it is, frankly, quite demanding of its senior executives ““ I play a lot less golf than I used to. Our senior-level executives know the business, know the customer, and know their people.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the biggest changes you have seen both within company and in the market since you joined the company?
Jendzejec: Three immediate areas come to mind: budget constraints, continuous Continuing Resolutions, and sequestration. Over the past several years, budget concerns and constraints have affected the market, especially new opportunities where STG has been focused. Now sequestration is another cloud hanging over Agency budgets and affecting their plans moving forward. Continuing Resolutions are nothing new to those operating in the federal market space; however, over the past couple of years we’ve experienced a definite delay in the release of RFPs, delays in awards being announced, as well as cancellation of pending awards that we were positioning and bidding on.
So there seems to have been a definite slowdown over the past couple of years in the whole acquisition environment. We’re also seeing a trend over the last year where customers are more interested in metrics: true, measurable value propositions as well as a demonstrated ability to leverage proven best practices that are shared among programs within the company. So the challenge that must be addressed is, how do you take those best practices from an existing customer and implement them successfully in a new ““ and therefore by definition different, if only slightly, customer environment successfully?
Recently, we’ve seen the market changing and adjusting to today’s cost-conscious environment. We’ve begun to see more acquisitions with low-priced, technically-acceptable evaluation criteria. In this environment it becomes more difficult to differentiate yourself, even with proven performance and measures of success. In some acquisitions, this approach can serve the customer well, but I've seen more contracts fail than before, in my opinion, due to this hyper-focus on cost.
While the past couple of years have been marked by RFP delays and cancellations, so far, 2013 has definitely changed that trend for STG. Since the beginning of the year, we have been nonstop on the proposal front, sometimes responding to several proposals simultaneously, which is a nice change from the past couple of years. Also, contract awards seem to be happening more frequently, and, again, this is a welcome change from the past.
STG has grown since 2009, when I joined. We were approximately a $214 million company. In this year, 2013, our projected revenue is approximately $280 million. I attribute this growth to experienced, focused, and dedicated leadership, operations, and infrastructure teams — our entire organization works together with unity and clarity of purpose.
STG has also matured as a mid-tier company. We have made investments in infrastructure, such as bringing our chief technology officer and a solutions architect team to help drive and focus service delivery in our core competency areas. Further, we are constantly investing in our go-to market approach and strategy. An example of this approach is our investment in agile software development, where we now have a focused organization that is trained and dedicated to the agile methodology. Investing in leadership, team training, and program execution resulted in improved customer satisfaction, shortened development cycles, and new program wins.
Our focus on company investments, people and targeted customers has paid dividends over the past four years. During this period we’ve added new customers each year to our business portfolio.
In 2010, we added the Drug Enforcement Agency. In 2011, it was Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General. In 2012, it was the Securities Exchange Commission. And this year, so far, it has been Department of Homeland Security, Customs Border Protection, with more still to come. These new customers, along with our high retention of existing customers, are a testament to the dedication and expertise of the men and women of STG.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the impacts of sequestration that you see daily?
Jendzejec: The impact of sequestration is still settling in: there seems to be a lot of discussion among our various government customers, with some customers apparently unaffected and others still deciding how to take the cuts, whether in contracts or staff (or both). These customers have been asking us to address the effect of the cuts in a range of what-if scenarios consisting of a potential 10, 15 or 20 percent cut in contract funding. The questions we are being asked are at a fairly high level such as “What types of services would you be able to continue to deliver?“ Depending on the contract type, whether it’s fixed price, cost-plus, or T&M, the outcomes can be very different. It's time-consuming and stressful, but stressful across all government resources ““ staff and contractors alike.
At this time, STG is not seeing any definitive customer requests or plans, in terms of sequestration affecting our contracts. It’s more about the “what-ifs“ and the plans should sequestration impact our customers and contracts.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the ways that you and the company work with customers to achieve their missions with constrained resources?
Jendzejec: From our perspective, it’s really about investing in quality improvement programs and how to bring those programs to the customer to demonstrating value-added and savings associated with execution. We’re heavily investing in ITIL training and implementations for our customers and we have already demonstrated personnel savings and measurable cost avoidance savings of up to 20 percent. Its taking what we’ve done for existing customers and bringing those best practices to other STG customers and potential new customers, migrating and adapting proven practices with experienced personnel in a new environment. In a practical sense, it means taking people from one program and grafting them into another program so you bring the experience of executing on one contract and delivering it again on another contract.
Another area that we’re working on, in terms of cost savings for customers, is partnering with technology focused companies where their products enhance our core competencies, increase productivity or reduce the numbers of personnel required to execute the mission. STG is constantly willing to bring the best technology partners on contract that satisfies customer requirements in a cost effective and efficient manner.
One of the areas our executive and delivery teams focus on is relentlessly improving our customer relationships. We consistently seek to better understand the daily pressures of our customer to deliver more with less. It is imperative that our team, executing on the ground, have a mindset on attention to detail, accountability for service delivery, identification and recommendations for process improvement, cost savings or cost avoidance where appropriate, even if it means less revenue for STG.
As a privately held company, STG does not have the same pressures that a publicly-traded company experiences regarding revenue growth and profit margins. So making those cost reduction recommendations are much easier for STG.