Executive Mosaic’s Top Human Resources Executives in Government Contracting

b-w-world-peopleThe government contracting industry and its agency customers are both grappling with questions as to how they can keep pace with fast technology advancements as requirements and demands of users change with those trends.

Coupled with those changes is the work of both public and private sector organizations to hire qualified talent with skills and qualifications in science- and technology-related fields. Human resources executives at contractors and government agencies are frequently the first line to acquire and retain technical talent.

ExecutiveBiz’s editorial leaders and staffers reached out to GovCon companies and federal agencies to identify who they view as the sector’s most prominent human resources executives for this website’s first annual Top Human Resources Executives Award selection.

In that process, we asked awardees to identify the main challenges and trends that drive efforts by public and private sector organizations to identify, recruit, train and retain qualified workers in the GovCon arena.



Sarah-Allen_SAIC_EMSARAH ALLEN

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER

LEIDOS

Sarah Allen serves as executive vice president and chief human resources officer at Leidos, which is merging with Lockheed Martin’s information systems and global solutions business to double in size.

Allen works with Leidos’ leaders to design human resources strategies for the recruitment and retention of staffers in an effort to align HR initiatives with the company’s overall business strategy.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Sarah Allen: At Leidos, we have a shared vision to create the best place for people to work. It’s not just something we say – it drives all that we do, particularly in the areas of recruiting and retaining our qualified talent. We are challenged every day to find not only high–tech and experienced business people, but often times, these individuals need to be able to meet the stringent clearance requirements of many of our positions. So we continually find unique ways in which to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

Recently, we dramatically improved our new hire experience by establishing dedicated experts, called “onboarding liaisons,” who provide white-glove concierge service for every new employee. The liaisons give each new hire a single point of contact for all questions related to joining the company. Engagement begins immediately upon the candidate’s acceptance of a job offer, continues during the entire “pre-start” period, and concludes at roughly day 60 on the job.
Additionally, we also constantly look at our benefits and strive to find ways to enhance those offerings. Most recently we have substantially increased opportunities for professional development. Recognizing that a large percentage of our employees work in remote locations or onsite with our customers, we employ various techniques for delivering our training offerings, including MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to provide a complete suite of educational opportunities.


 

Bailey_Marjorie_smallMARJORIE R. BAILEY

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER

CACI INTERNATIONAL

Marjorie R. Bailey is the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for CACI International Inc. Ms. Bailey works closely with CACI’s executive team, business groups and staff organizations to align the company’s HR initiatives with strategic goals.

Prior to joining CACI, Ms. Bailey served as CHRO of Leidos Health and Engineering, formerly part of SAIC. Ms. Bailey brings over 20 years of experience to her role at CACI.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Marjorie Bailey: Our industry is experiencing a shortage of technical talent and low unemployment, particularly in the DC area. The number of candidates skilled in software engineering and development, cyber technologies, and other high-end emerging technologies is not keeping pace with the demand.  Our traditional list of competitors in the government contracting arena has greatly increased with a variety of companies not normally associated with federal contracting entering our space.

We are competing for talent against commercial companies and niche “start-up” firms. This, combined with requirements to possess government security clearances, results in a diminished pool of qualified available talent.  Many of these factors have also led to increased turnover in our industry.

As a result, CACI works to differentiate our employee experience and retain the talented individuals that deliver exceptional results for our customers. We provide employee mobility opportunities and deliver strong  leadership development. CACI is an anchor partner with the Virginia Tech Hume Center to provide resources, cyber lab configuration, curriculum, and mentoring to develop the next generation of cyber leaders.

Our employees are proud to contribute to our customers’ missions and are vigilant in sustaining our culture of good character that makes CACI a great place to work.


braccio_chris_smallCHRIS BRACCIO

VICE PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

AMERICAN SYSTEMS

Chris Braccio joined AMERICAN SYSTEMS in 2007 and oversees the government contractor’s efforts to align human talent with overall business strategy as vice president of human resources.

The 25-year human resource veteran oversees human capital, talent management, compensation, benefits and HR information systems.

ExecutiveBiz: What are some challenges you face in finding qualified talent for your company?

Chris Braccio: Our challenge is not necessarily finding qualified talent in and of itself, it’s finding qualified talent in the right places. Our employee-owners take great pride in supporting our national priorities and that often means we are supporting the mission in remote locations, sometimes overseas, where qualified talent is at a premium. We overcome this challenge with attractive benefits, signing bonuses, relocation assistance packages, and creative recruiting techniques. We also rely on our own workforce to do the recruiting for us. Our customers rely on us to fill positions with personnel that have the required skills, and more importantly, a passion for what they do. Recently, we have been asking our employee-owners to create short, “selfie” videos of themselves that speak to their work, their environment, and their mission. We post these on our social media sites, and they’ve been a terrific, low-cost way of sharing our employee-owners’ real-life experiences, internally and externally, in a heartfelt, unrehearsed manner. This leads to a lot of employee referrals within our workforce, as there’s no better spokesperson for AMERICAN SYSTEMS than a motivated, patriotic, and passionate employee-owner. We know what’s at stake.


breen_david_smallDAVID BREEN

VICE PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

GENERAL DYNAMICS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

David Breen is currently Vice President of Human Resources at General Dynamics Information Technology, where he is responsible for providing a full range of human resources services. He joined the company in 2004.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Breen served as the Vice President for Human Resources at General Dynamics United Kingdom, Ltd.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

David Breen: There is no question that the battle for talent across many high-demand skill sets is intense. Acquiring the talent is just a small piece of the equation. We have found that just as important as acquiring the talent and making the hire, it is critical to adopt a holistic approach that includes assimilating, developing, engaging and retaining the talent that you worked so hard to acquire in the first place.

As the economy has improved, there is major competition from the commercial sector for the same pool of technical talent. Competitive bidding on government contracts is fierce, putting significant pressure on cost and price. Prospective talent is also increasingly willing to forgo positions requiring security clearances. This creates a need to regularly review the methodology associated with acquiring and retaining talent.

We also are faced with transforming our work environment to be more engaging and flexible. This will broaden our appeal to the next generation of leaders. Enabling remote work opportunities, for example, will position us more competitively with the commercial sector, and allow us to reduce facilities costs in the future.

While we address these challenges, we must make sure that we do not stray from the core values on which we’ve built our success: a laser-like focus on our customers’ missions, completed through teamwork that is underscored by respect, integrity and trust.


cainJEAN CAIN

VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER

NOBLIS

As Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Noblis, Ms. Cain is responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of Noblis’ HR and Organization Development Division.

Ms. Cain joined Noblis in 2008, bringing over 25 years of human resources experience.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Jean Cain: If you ask any employer in the government contracting industry about top challenges, you will likely find the ability to attract and retain talent at the top of their list.   Intense competition for talent is an industry-wide challenge.  At Noblis, our strategy is to embrace this challenge head on by cultivating robust talent pipelines to tap skills when and where needed and to build a strong brand in the marketplace as a great place to build a career.

We attract talent through extensive sourcing and deploying the latest technology and social media solutions.  Once hired, we provide exciting and complex scientific and technical work that benefits the public. We invest in research and development, employee training and provide well-defined career pathways for continued growth.  Every day, we cultivate a culture of collaboration, innovation, respect and ethics.   With our employees dispersed across multiple client site and company locations, we work hard to stay connected through robust communications and outreach.


calhoun_jerry_smallJERRY CALHOUN

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF HUMAN CAPITAL SOLUTIONS

VENCORE

Jerry Calhoun serves as senior vice president of human capital solutions at Vencore and oversees the company’s efforts to recruit and retain talent.

Calhoun is a former HR SVP from PAE, held the same role at Vangent for six years prior to its acquisition by General Dynamics in 2012.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Jerry Calhoun: The acquisition of talent has always been challenging but in never more so than in the current market.  By this, I do not mean the scarcity of talent or the competitiveness of finding talent. The challenge today is the multi-generational  composition of the talent pool and significant differences between the expectation of each of the generations.  As we all know the largest and ever growing pool are the millennials which are critical to our success going forward.  This generation has a very different set of expectations when they evaluate an employer than those generations before them which comprise much of the current workforce at company.   It is exactly these expectations that make the millennial generation one of the most exciting in terms of what they have to offer and how they can help us respond to the innovation, performance and outcomes demanded by our customers and the marketplace.  While the  expectations obviously  vary by individual they most often include the desire:  to have an impact, to be collaborative, to be innovative, to be mobile, to have the opportunity to develop new skills and the work environment to utilize those skills and to participate in multiple challenges.  It is for these reasons that I see a bright future for our industry and for the customers we served.  The challenge is to create the work environment and recruiting approaches that allow these things to happen and to be understood by candidates.   At Vencore we are achieving this aggressively providing training and certification programs that are easy to access and implement;  establishing a culture of collaboration, accountability, integrity and respect; being recognized nationally as a leader in establishing workplace strategies and practices to help our employees achieve success in work-life effectiveness; having Individual Development Plans that ties each employee’s goals to carreer opportunities; and providing meaningful mission oriented work.


 

Debbie Drake EM 2DEBORAH DRAKE

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

SOTERA DEFENSE SOLUTIONS

Deborah Drake serves as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Sotera Defense Solutions, where she is responsible for leading the company’s enterprise global human resources function.

Prior to her current role, she served as a Leidos vice president of Human Resources with oversight of its compensation, international HR, and services initiatives its intelligence and reconnaissance sector.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Deborah Drake: It goes without saying that the government contracting world is a challenging, yet rewarding market.  Specifically with talent acquisition, we have the greatest opportunity to find mission-oriented and highly qualified professionals to meet the objectives of national security.  This is no small feat, and it’s not taken lightly at Sotera Defense Solutions.

Sotera is a medium sized company that competes with the marketing and name-recognition of the larger organizations as well as the smaller organizations that can occasionally offer highly valued benefits.  With this competition is also the ongoing challenge of pricing low enough to win, yet marketable enough to attract quality candidates.   The commercial environment is also becoming more and more attractive to candidates that were previously heavily tied to mission with high level clearances and strong customer affinity.  Clearances take time and working in a SCIF is not always as attractive as working in your t-shirt with the windows open.

Once we attain a candidate’s confidence through strong recruiting and sourcing efforts, Sotera’s resilient values in agility, ingenuity, integrity, passion and strong execution make our Company an easy-sell.  Our managers are knowledgeable and highly engaged which makes our culture a great long-term investment for our employees.   With the mission we serve, it is well worth the time and effort to build a culture of quality people that serve our nation’s needs.


Sharon Dunbar EMSHARON DUNBAR

VICE PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

GENERAL DYNAMICS MISSION SYSTEMS

Sharon Dunbar is Vice President of Human Resources at General Dynamics Mission Systems. In this capacity, she leads HR operations and internal communications, supporting nearly 13,000 employees across more than 100 locations worldwide.

Prior to her present position, Ms. Dunbar served a 32-year career in the U.S. Air Force with assignments in HR, acquisition, and legislative affairs.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Sharon Dunbar: Since nearly half our company’s 12,500 employees are engineers, our top HR challenge is attracting and successfully competing to hire the skilled technical talent we need. Competition for superb engineering talent has become quite keen for companies operating in the federal contracting realm in that we now routinely compete with the commercial sector for this talent. And, of course, market demand for highly-cleared technical talent, particularly in the cyber domain, continues to outpace supply, so we’re examining other avenues for cultivating this high demand-low density talent.

Our value proposition in recruiting top talent is certainly different than the commercial sector. We’re pleased that so many are attracted by General Dynamics’ reputation and ethos. Equally appealing is the fact that General Dynamics Mission Systems engineers multi-domain defense-related and scientific capabilities for customers worldwide, is a tremendous partner with our customers and communities alike, and invests in our talent so they can grow along with our company. In fact, I believe these are the same reasons our company’s employee retention rates are better than our peer benchmark. The bottom line is that we take great pride in our employee talent and take nothing for granted in what it takes to attract and retain the best in any market condition.


Foglesong_Laurie_small

LAURIE FOGLESONG

DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES

HARRIS CORPORATION

Laurie Foglesong is the Director of Human Resources at Harris Corp. Ms. Foglesong has been with Harris Corp. for six years, previously serving as a Senior Human Resources Manager.

Prior to working with Harris Corp. Ms. Foglesong was the Director of Human Resources at EM&I from 2005-2010.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Laurie Foglesong: The market for talent in the government contracting industry is very competitive, especially in the Washington DC area.  One of the greatest challenges Harris faces in finding qualified talent is reaching passive candidates who are open to making a change.  We seek to proactively build relationships with candidates to build a ready pipeline of talent.  Recruiting is a team sport at Harris.  We rely on the engagement of our line managers to communicate their staffing needs, define the profile of candidates needed now and for future work, and to actively participate in recruiting events.  Our recruiters are results driven.  They implement a balanced sourcing plan to find channels where candidates are spending their time.  We utilize our marketing team to leverage our corporate branding and develop a value proposition that speaks to the candidate’s career aspirations.  It is important to convey to candidates what differentiates us from our competitors.  We also incentivize our employees to refer friends or acquaintances that are a good fit for an open vacancy and the Harris culture.  Our growth depends upon our recruiters efficiently filling positions with the most qualified talent using innovative ways to find talent and staying abreast of recruiting best practices.


gravallese_julie_small

JULIE GRAVALLESE

VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER

THE MITRE CORPORATION

Ms. Julie Gravallese is Vice President and CHRO of The MITRE Corporation. In this role, she is responsible for strategic planning and direction of human resources for MITRE at more than 60 locations worldwide.

Ms. Gravallese has served in director level positions at MITRE since 1996, leading the Open Systems Center, the Information Technology Center, and the Geospatial Intelligence and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Program Division.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Julie Gravallese: MITRE’s biggest recruiting challenge is finding high-tech talent in today’s highly competitive technology marketplace, especially in specialized areas like cybersecurity. In addition, most of our positions require government security clearance or other suitability. As a not-for-profit that operates federally funded research and development centers for the government, we focus on attracting a workforce who understands and values serving in the public interest. But, at MITRE, we’ve learned that you don’t always get to choose top talent—top talent chooses you.

These challenges inspire us to create a workplace that attracts the best talent to serve our government sponsors. While our work program appeals to those interested in helping our nation tackle the toughest challenges, we also work hard to create an environment that offers award-winning benefits like our work/life balance that help employees focus on what matters most to them. We also invest heavily in developing our employees’ skill sets to achieve their career aspirations. Our education assistance benefits are in the 95th percentile.

Valuing our staff throughout their careers is the MITRE difference.


Deborah Kircher HeadshotDEBORAH KIRCHER

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE FOR HUMAN CAPITAL

OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

In October 2011, Deborah Kircher was appointed assistant director of national intelligence for human capital and chief human capital officer for the intelligence community.

Ms. Kircher joined the Office of the Director of National Intelligence upon its launch in April 2005 and has also served as deputy director of ODNI’s legislative affairs office.

ExecutiveBiz:  What are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent for the Intelligence Community?

Deborah Kircher:  The men and women of the Intelligence Community (IC) are committed to protecting our country from current and future threats to national security.  To accomplish this, we provide timely, accurate, and insightful intelligence to the nation’s senior leaders and policy makers.  Strategic intelligence involves understanding people, cultures, and areas across the globe. To be successful in our national security role, it is imperative that we attract, recruit, and retain highly skilled individuals with diverse ethnic backgrounds and educational experiences.

A career in the IC is both challenging and rewarding.  A Top 10 “Best Places to Work” for the past seven years, as awarded by the Partnership for Public Service, the IC recognizes the need to remain a competitive employer.  To address recruiting and hiring challenges in attracting the talent we need, the IC has implemented incentives such as hiring and pay flexibilities.  Increasingly, the mission of the IC depends on leveraging cutting edge technology.  As such, our recruiting emphasis is on cyber, STEM, and data science, as well as foreign language, regional and cultural expertise, and analytical and critical thinking skills.

The IC provides dynamic careers to talented professionals across numerous career disciplines.  Find out more at intelligencecareers.gov.


lawler_jim_smallJIM LAWLER

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

ICF INTERNATIONAL

Jim Lawler is currently the Executive Vice President of Human Resources at ICF International.

Prior to joining ICF, Mr. Lawler served as chief HR officer at TASC, Inc., while the company was establishing itself as a standalone company. At TASC, Mr. Lawler designed and staffed the HR organization, recruited key members of the senior leadership team, and executed an HR systems conversion.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Jim Lawler: ICF’s biggest challenge is making sure the right talent is aware of what we have to offer. We’re sort of a well-kept secret-we serve a dozen or so distinct markets including digital engagement, environmental, energy, cyber, education, childhood justice, health policy, health informatics, international aid, disaster recovery, etc. About half our business is federal, with the other half comprised of commercial, state and local, and international work. Our agility has served us well-we’ve shown a tremendous ability to ‘skate to where the puck is going’ and as a result, we’ve grown approximately six-fold over the last 8 years or so. Our biggest advantages are that we provide access to great work, work that inspires people because it really changes the world, and we provide the respect and flexibility which enables people to actually do great work.  As a result, we’re blessed with incredibly bright, passionate world-class people, from millennials to boomers and beyond, and a beautiful mix of right and left brainers. About 1 in 8 people at ICF were promoted this year, so our people are clearly every bit as adaptable and growth-oriented as we’ve been as a company. That may be a tough number to replicate every year, but in terms of our number one challenge, continuing to grow our folks is right up there with making new talent aware of who we are.


morehead_jamie_small

JAMES MOREHEAD

VICE PRESIDENT OF TALENT MANAGEMENT

PARSONS CORPORATION

James L. “Jamie” Morehead currently serves as a Parsons Vice President, responsible for Operational Services for the corporation’s Talent Management organization.

Jamie joined Parsons in 2001 and has held a series of progressive and diverse corporate and business unit human resources roles around the world. Prior to his current position, Jamie served as Vice President of Talent Management (also referred to as HR) for Parsons’ Federal business unit.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Jamie Morehead: Parsons has a global reputation for excellence in the engineering and construction industries. As a result, we attract top talent in these particular fields. However, a lot of people don’t realize that Parsons also employs many individuals with unique skill sets or highly technical backgrounds. Therefore, Parsons may not come to mind—first—for careers in cybersecurity or information technology, even though we have terrific opportunities in these fields. In addition, professionals with this type of experience are also few in number, so we are always seeking out these specialists. We are also challenged to find estimators with experience in design-build or public-private partnerships.


Beth Skoletsky EMBETH A. SKOLETSKY

VICE PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RESOURCHES

WHITNEY, BRADLEY & BROWN, INC.

Beth A. Skoletsky serves as the Vice President of Human Resources with Whitney, Bradley & Brown, Inc. in Reston, VA.

Ms. Skoletsky has previously held senior level positions in the government contracting industry for over a decade with Engility Corporation and L-3 Communications.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Beth A. Skoletsky: Despite the large number of professionals in the labor pool, finding individuals who possess the specialized credentials and proven competencies that are required by our customers can be difficult; add the LPTA and contracting environment where the customers’ expectations and the solicited requirements may not necessarily align make it even more challenging! Maneuvering individuals through the security clearance process often presents a challenge of its own which can result in losing qualified candidates.

Due to the competitive market, salaries for the most sought after candidates can get out of reach while less experienced and less credentialed candidates cannot be considered based on not meeting minimum requirements.  Since the majority of staffing requirements are structured for mid-to-senior level professionals versus entry level, skilled workers or college graduates it tends to limit the candidate pool and causes us to miss out on having the ability to develop talent in our industry.

Competition for top talent in the GovCon space is fierce.  Prospective candidates are more agile, selective and they have numerous opportunities to choose from.  As such, I believe it is critically important for companies to focus on attracting talent with more than just a competitive salary. Also critically important in the ever active and challenging environment of obtaining the best talent is differentiating our company, focusing on the mission and retaining employees.


St. Clair, SarahSARAH ST. CLAIR

VICE PRESIDENT OF PEOPLE SERVICES

BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON

Sarah St. Clair is the Vice President of People Services at Booz Allen Hamilton. In this role, Ms. St. Clair serves as Deputy to the Chief Personnel Officer to ensure that the firm’s people agenda supports the business and helps attract, develop, and retain staff.

Prior to this role, Ms. St. Clair was the General Administrative Officer for the Civil Commercial Group.

ExecutiveBiz: what are the greatest challenges you face in finding qualified talent to add to your company’s team?”

Sarah St. Clair: I was asked to provide my perspective on “the greatest challenges in finding qualified talent to add to Booz Allen’s team.”  Instead, I’m going to offer my thoughts on the greatest opportunities in finding qualified talent for our outstanding firm.

The distinction between challenges and opportunities is not just semantics or a reflection of my sunny outlook on life.  It is a reflection of the times in which we live. True talent translates to people who want to work in an opportunity-rich environment.  That means we have to think about everything we offer in those terms.

It doesn’t mean we just do things differently.  It means that we do things better—in our business and in our HR support. It means we listen to staff, test approaches, ask for feedback, and make refinements so that our programming, investments, and opportunities remain relevant.

For example, we piloted the Summer Games for interns in our Strategic Innovation Group for two years.  That experience featured challenges, pitches, and an opportunity to solve real problems and learn from each other.  We are now ready to take that firm wide. We also plan to test incentives, gig-like opportunities for a diverse work force, individual mobility and development, and many other aspects of our talent management.

Our world is changing faster than ever which is why we have to change with it.  Fortunately, that resonates with Booz Allen’s culture, and with current and future employees.


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