ExecutiveBiz had the opportunity to speak with John Goodman, chief executive for Accenture Federal Services (AFS), and Novetta President and CEO Tiffanny Gates following the recent news that the former would be acquiring Novetta back on June 1st.
2021 Wash100 Award recipients Goodman and Gates both highlighted the background of the acquisition, the merging of their company cultures and growth strategies in the federal sector, the development of the latest technology capabilities and the digital transformation efforts of both companies as they come together in the coming months.
“As we close this deal and begin to work on what we are going to go after together, the sum of the parts will greatly exceed all expectations. I am excited about the strategic direction. It’s going to be fun to put together,” said Gates.
You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Tiffanny Gates and John Goodman below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on the industry-changing news! What can you tell us about the background of the acquisition, how it came to pass and ultimately what made it the right fit for both Novetta and Accenture Federal Services?
John Goodman: “Tiffanny and I began our discussions regarding an acquisition a few months ago. It was clear to me from our initial discussion that we were aligned on the things that matter most, namely our strategy, culture, and people.
At Accenture Federal Services (AFS), we are focused on bringing new technologies and innovative solutions to help our clients solve significant problems such as improving veterans’ access to benefits, providing better access to loans for students and assisting farmers in accessing more resources.
Novetta has that exact same focus of using new technology to address their clients’ challenges. So, from a strategic perspective, we are an enormously good fit.
As important as strategy, we share a common set of values. We have a common focus on our clients’ missions and on bringing innovation to solve their problems in new ways.
Finally, we have a common concern for our people. At AFS, we like to say we hire people for careers, not for jobs, because we know that technology is changing so rapidly that to continue to be relevant to our clients, we have to build new skills and evolve to address our client challenges. Novetta has the same concern.
Our combined set of capabilities will enable us to solve even greater challenges for our clients and handle even greater challenges. That’s what really made it particularly exciting to me.”
Tiffanny Gates: “This deal needed to make sense and it needed to be a good story for my employees. When you are private equity-backed, you sort of always know there’s going to be an exit at some point and this was the final piece that dropped into place for the Novetta family.
Novetta is a company that cares about diversity and growth. We are a very technology and growth-focused company and that has been the secret to our success. The opportunity to work with AFS allows us to put that on a much bigger platform. I think it’s going to help our current customers. I am excited about bringing value to AFS’s existing customers as well.
As we close this deal and begin to work on what we are going to go after together, the sum of the parts will greatly exceed all expectations. I am excited about the strategic direction. It’s going to be fun to put together.”
ExecutiveBiz: With all 1,300 of Novetta’s employees joining AFS’ workforce, how will your two companies address the challenges of merging your culture and overall growth strategies in the federal landscape, especially in a post-pandemic world?
John Goodman: “From a cultural perspective, we’re a really good fit. That was key to both of us. While we will need to work through the details of integrating our businesses, I am not at all worried about bringing our two cultures together.
In terms of our business, I think the capabilities that Novetta brings and the clients they serve let us rethink our structure. We currently have three business portfolios and will be adding a fourth that will combine Novetta’s capabilities with some in AFS. Tiffanny will be leading that fourth portfolio.
Our common objective is to mobilize our combined set of capabilities to better serve our clients. We are now going through the customary regulatory reviews and are still operating as two separate companies. But we are planning for the future and excited to get going.”
Tiffanny Gates: “I would say that culture is what I care about the most, either as a buyer or a seller. Revenue and the like are table stakes, but if the cultures don’t match then, an acquisition will fail.
I will tell you that John and I had an immediate rapport from our very first meeting. I felt that there was not going to be an issue there from the beginning. It was almost a shared shorthand because I knew that we cared about the same things.”
ExecutiveBiz: With analytics and other emerging technologies such as cloud, AI/ML, cyber and others being so critical to the future of the federal sector and your companies, what new capabilities do you expect to develop through this acquisition as well as the specific growth opportunities you’re after?
Tiffanny Gates: “I think our technologies, integrated with AFS capabilities, will play a significant role in addressing customer needs. These include DevSecOps, advanced analytics and machine learning, and innovation in the cloud. In addition, collaboration environments like our Machine Learning Center of Excellence, alongside AFS’s Applied Intelligence, will become a future force multiplier.
Our team is predominantly made up of data science and cyber nerds, so I feel like they’re going to look forward to working with AFS’s customers to advance their technical requirements and their needs so they can solve bigger problems.”
John Goodman: “A major part of the culture of both companies is our focus on delivering innovative new technologies to our customers. I am excited by Novetta’s technological focus, talent and unique capabilities that they have brought to their clients. I believe those capabilities will not be just additive but multiplicative in terms of what we’ll be able to accomplish together.
By combining our talents, we can tackle bigger challenges and inspire more confidence in our ability to deliver the solutions to help transform how our clients serve their stakeholders, whether it’s our fellow citizens, warfighters or their employees’ businesses.”
ExecutiveBiz: With those challenges and the goal to improve how the federal government is embracing digital transformation and change, how will you work together to drive innovation, agility and success for your companies for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
John Goodman: “I think what’s most important in the next six months to a year is actualizing our vision. I think it will be realized when all of our employees, whether AFS or Novetta, are excited and feel that they have even greater individual opportunities to grow and serve their clients’ missions because they are incredibly mission-focused.
In the end, I want our employees to be better together and help solve even more significant challenges for our clients. Both goals go together because when we unite in our common concern for our clients, we can solve the toughest challenges. That ability to come together and help the client is how I measure success.”
Tiffanny Gates: “Those are the things that are important to me as well. I’m confident that we have the technical cadre of people to answer our customers’ mission requirements.
I am 100 percent confident in our ability to support our country, our national security requirements and our customers at large, but continuing to do so, continuing to grow this workforce and do it in a way that still keeps a family feel will be the things that are really going to be the tells during the next six months to a year.”