Lauren Johns, senior vice president of Finance with Presidio Federal, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz for the publication’s latest Executive Spotlight interview regarding her goals for the company and focus on the next chapter of development and growth heading into 2022.
In addition, Johns also discussed the task of continuing Presidio Federal’s momentum heading into the next quarter, the importance of long term employee success as well as the recruiting challenges in the federal sector and the struggle of remaining compliant with the latest standards such as CMMI or CMMC.
“The resources at Presidio Federal and the time to meet compliance is a whole company effort. We have put a work plan in place for the long term. We are locked in and it’s crucial for our customers that we have this certification. It’s a top priority for all of us.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Lauren Johns below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on joining Presidio Federal back in September! Why did you want to join the company and what were the attributes of its mission that attracted you to the role? What do you hope to accomplish?
“First thing I saw was that Presidio Federal is a growing company with lots of potential. The people, the company’s ability to impact the federal market, as well as the corporate structure all made this a very unique opportunity for me.
I was also attracted to the opportunity to contribute to the mission for our federal customers and lead a team of smart and dedicated employees into the next chapter of growth and development for this company. Whenever you join a new company, it comes with new challenges. I’ve laid out a roadmap for what needs to be accomplished.
For instance, I documented a priority framework that would allow myself and my team to tactically act on key process areas that need to be understood and evaluated. One of the critical areas to focus on is connecting and forming relationships with the team as we work together to assess the current processes and performance of the company.
In addition to that, I wanted to understand the company’s core value and initiatives and assess the strategic mission and vision. That was essential to being able to communicate those to our employees.
I’ve used this framework before, and it lined up with the expectations that were given to me and helps everyone understand how to execute our mission and contribute to the bottom line.
My team is spread all over the country. We’re in Florida, Maryland and Virginia. The first four months after I joined Presidio Federal, one key aspect of my job was getting to know everyone here and becoming a part of the team myself.
We figured out what components of our business should be underneath finance, which tends to touch every line of business. We reevaluated and restructured everything that wasn’t working. We improved everything we could to become as efficient as possible. It’s about making our employees happy, developing a direct line to me and the rest of the senior leadership team.”
ExecutiveBiz: Following the success of your recent quarterly results, what were the key factors that led to that company-wide performance and how will you continue to work to capitalize on that success moving forward?
“Last quarter was our second quarter and the challenge for me is to capitalize on our momentum heading into the second half of the year. I’ve found that the key to continuing your team’s success is about encouraging a collaborative spirit, which is really important to me.
Another huge motivator is improving every process and identifying any errors and then communicating those processes to the entire team. Every process can be improved and that’s a necessary goal to have as a leader in finance.
The last and most important is effective communication of the state of the business to all employees, our stakeholders and our parent company. Effective communication is really the highest indicator of a great team and if you have that, you’re on track for success. If a finance staff member realizes that we have inefficiencies in one of our manual processes we find ways to automate it and communicate that across all lines of business.
These exemplify Presidio Federal’s collaborative spirit and commitment to open communication across all of our business lines. We are a transactional company so growth for my team is tied to further enabling transactions.
We support each other. We work for each other. I get involved in some cases, but try to empower team members since flexing that muscle provides growth opportunities for leaders at all levels. We have an exceptional staff.
Mentorship is extremely important to me. I had a mentor when I was young and it made a significant impact on my career and changed how I looked at how I wanted to work the rest of my life, especially in finance and accounting. I wouldn’t be here without people to learn from every day.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does your company ensure long term success for your workforce to drive value for your employees as you continue to face the uphill challenge to recruit and retain the best talent in the federal marketplace?
“Software technology and internal software are absolutely essential. We are a remote team with most of our people working from home now. We need to have the best-in-class technology to keep our communication strong. We need to be rolling out significant high tech reporting functions because manual systems just aren’t going to work anymore. We all need to be on board with automation.
At Presidio Federal, we are 78 employees strong. We are not unique in facing the challenges of the labor market. We’re facing the same challenges as all other companies in our sector. It’s a candidate’s market and we’re prepared to compete to continue working with the best.
It says a lot about our team’s work ethic and the level of job satisfaction at Presidio Federal. I try to motivate my team through positivity and an open door policy. The strategies I’ve utilized over the years have served me quite well. I work to help my team succeed however I can.
Here at Presidio Federal, we present an excellent career growth opportunity for various lines of business across the federal landscape. We are always looking at our strategy for the future. We are looking for individuals that will benefit our team, round out the knowledge base and create great customer and employee experience. We’re always looking to grow with good talent. The people here are long-lived, which says a lot and it is why we continue to be in a strong position.”
ExecutiveBiz: With CMMC and other compliance standards changing to push the best business practices for federal contractors and companies, what can you tell us about the challenges of maintaining those standards and making changes to your own policies to remain compliant?
“The certification initiative is one of our core strategic priorities for Presidio Federal. We are fully engaged in our certification process. It really requires all hands on deck.
We are on track for our CMMI Level 3 completion by the end of the quarter. Presidio Federal has been learning and mastering the documentation and organizational processes required so that we are prepared for that independent assessment.
The resources at Presidio Federal and the time to meet the compliance is a whole company effort. We have put a work plan in place for the long term. We are locked in and it’s crucial for our customers that we have this certification. It’s a top priority for all of us.”