Brian Pickerall, senior vice president with Changeis, Inc., recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding his 25 years of government experience and bringing that to Changeis in order to continue growth for the company and drive value for its federal customers in the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
In addition, Pickerall discussed the company’s senior leadership expansion and the core values that drive Changeis’ company culture as well as the challenges of uploading the strongest business ethics and his goals for where the company needs to be by the end of 2022.
“It’s a real opportunity to bring something new to the table for our clients who really need more than they’ve been getting across our entire government. There’s a lot of great things coming our way, but there will be hard problems. We just have a little work to do.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Brian Pickerall below:
ExecutiveBiz: Back in April 2021, you joined Changeis after more than 25 years working in government and the federal sector. How would you describe Changeis’ growth strategy and how it will drive value for the company and your customers?
“It’s been quite a journey. I’ve worked in fairly large companies in my career and coming to a smaller company gives me the opportunity to work with our staff and owners every single day and there’s an immediate impact. It’s really been a learning experience for me.
Our leadership team has created a map of our virtual organization that lets us think about our growth strategy, how to implement and operationalize it moving forward. We held team sessions and all types of workshops that led to us defining our ‘Communities of Practice.’
We have an entire enterprise technology solutions group that covers all things IT, cyber, artificial intelligence and modernization that the federal government needs to buy.
Secondly, we have mission support that’s more centered around the types of jobs in acquisition services, contracts, finance management and schedule management. We also have more administrative and Program Management oversight opportunities.
In addition, we’re working on training and strategic communications. We have experts in instructional systems design as well as learning management systems. Strategic communications is an even bigger focus for us to drive our customers’ message out for all in the federal landscape to hear.
Our last group is called ‘Emerging Disciplines’ which is to put us into a position to be at the forefront of what’s coming down the tech pipeline. In the transportation realm, that’s a number of areas such as intelligent transportation systems, autonomous vehicles and unmanned systems.
Those kinds of things where we’re doing a bunch of work for the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FAA. It’s also a training ground for how to be on the edge. The idea of these four communities of practice keeps us focused on the kind of work that we want to do and where we think we can expand and provide our expertise.
More importantly, we’re creating these communities within Changeis because we want our teams to be part of communities where they can find resources for professional development and sharing between projects for problem solving across the company.
Our client space receives all the benefits of everything we do, and when you start delivering best-in-class quality to benefit your customers they want more, and that is a significant part of our growth strategy.
The best thing we can do is deliver great work for our clients. There will always be more proposals to write and more strategic captures to do in the business development world. The first order of business is to deliver great work or it won’t matter what we put in our proposals. We start and end our days around our talent and our team.”
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk about the expansion of the company’s senior leadership and what are the core values of Changeis’ company culture and vision?
“It really is about the talented people and mix of leaders that we have the pleasure of working with here at Changeis. As we continue to expand and grow, we see a real opportunity to bring in and grow our senior leadership and bring great talent to the company from across all arenas.
As the company grows and expands, we’re going to continue expanding our C-Suite. Myself and the owners are driving our business forward, along with developing leaders at all levels of the organization.
Eventually, we’ll need a chief financial officer and a chief administrative officer. We’re going to need those roles as we expand and we have a vision for bringing those people in once we reach each step. We’re not ready to spend all the money at once.
As we grow, that is happening and we’re already creating great success for ourselves at the proposal level. We’ve had several wins of late and we’re expecting a few more to drop for us in the very near future.
That will require even more hiring and program managers as well as experts just to be able to handle the speed of our expansion. We’re obviously backfilling our roster with as much junior talent as possible and it’s a great thing to bring in outside talent with experience and exposure that we don’t have in the company yet. You need talent who speak the language of our clients.
We are expanding our footprint in an extremely fascinating space. We are right back where we started working with the FAA and DOT. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is another big one for us.
In fact, we just received a contract award for the Student Exchange and Visitors Program (SEVP). That will allow us to grow and it’s a program we’re really excited about. We want to be able to take where we are and expand using those ‘Communities of Practice’ that I talked about as a focus for where we want to go next.”
ExecutiveBiz: Changeis does a lot to uphold the strongest business ethics and give back to the community. What can you tell us about the various charities and organizations that the company works with and how people can get involved?
“It’s very important to our owners that throughout the entire company we enjoy being a part of the Changeis community and driving our core values like corporate integrity and expertise. That remains one of our key drivers.
As I talk about expanding our footprint from a client perspective, we have a large team spread across the country from a geographic perspective. We have a large team in Oklahoma City. We have a similarly large team in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as a similar size team in the DC area. Each of those communities are obviously made up of different people with different missions.
Our charity work across the company is driven by our employees and the causes that they wish to support. The kinds of organizations that are important in their community. We have a long list of work in that arena, including my personal favorite: the American Red Cross.
I’m on the board of the American Red Cross here in the national capital area and Changeis was already involved with them before I joined the company. It was a match made in heaven for me to bring my passion and receive the support from a corporate perspective that the company brings to the table.
We look forward to these kinds of opportunities to be involved in the community as we grow. Our spectacular company performance validates that our culture is clearly working with our employees. The folks on our team are feeling and living it every day.”
ExecutiveBiz: With a new year beginning, what can you tell us about your goals for yourself and Changeis for the year to come? What trends do you see developing in IT solutions and management consulting for 2022?
“I’ve discussed those ‘Communities of Practice’ and our footprint. Those are some pretty significant changes, so it takes a little while for them to set in. I just know after all the changes take effect, there is a lot of value and it’s already showing promise.
We really are going to be spending this year, not so much making changes to operations, but understanding the kinds of structure that we’ve already implemented at this point and making that part of how we innately do business and how we look at things and problem solve.
It’s about breaking down our process so we know where we go first when we have an issue or need resources. That allows increased communication across our company with even more opportunities for training and professional development within our staff because the better they are, the better our clients like it, and the more they want to buy it.
Finally, we want to be hyper focused in executing our strategy, which required becoming a metrics driven organization and making the decisions for our future based on the hard numbers. There’s been no shortage of good decisions.
The company has grown and Changeis did very well long before I ever got here. As we enter a new phase of our growth, the question is where do we need to double down or where we need to look around. We have to be getting ourselves in position to keep track of that data.
It’s going to be an interesting year. With the bipartisan infrastructure law, we’re expecting to drive a lot of activity for the FAA and DOT, who are two of our biggest clients. As a result, we have to anticipate what they’re going to need and try to get ahead of it on the talent curve. We need to identify the support the agencies’ needs and make sure we have the structure in place to be effective.
And the IT Modernization world never stops. Even if our whole lives were in the cloud, and that’s true for some of us, that’s a whole lot of what we do every single day. They’re still systems out there that are being run on servers in somebody’s office or need to be migrated somewhere.
They need to be modernized and they need to be protected. You can see those trends of cloud migration and AI and machine learning as well as cyber protection and all those related capabilities. We expect to continue to be a core driver of those capabilities and we expect a lot more going forward.
It’s a real opportunity to bring something new to the table for our clients who really need more than they’ve been getting across our entire government. There’s a lot of great things coming our way, but there will be hard problems. We just have a little work to do.”