Patience Samson, vice president of corporate development for Axient, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the company’s recent growth initiatives and contract awards as well as its focus on innovative technical solutions utilizing digital engineering, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
In addition, Samson discussed the core values that are important to Axient’s culture, the unique challenges on the business side of technological innovation and the work the company does to give back to the greater community during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Patience Samson below:
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the company’s recent growth initiatives and how you’re driving value for your customers through contract awards, acquisitions and other aspects across the federal sector?
Patience Samson: “Axient was formed from four rapidly-growing and highly successful companies. Each was successful because they brought the right solutions to their customers quickly and with value.
We are making sure our merger doesn’t interfere with that success, and we have prioritized continuing to deliver excellence to our current customers, while harnessing those customer relationships and resourcing our business development teams to constantly collaborate to bring the full depth and breadth of Axient’s capabilities to our current contracts and new opportunities.
Through our recent wins at NASA and Space Force, we continue to build upon that capabilities base. With our merger and integration officially complete at the beginning of this year, we are also now organized, structured, and resourced to give our customers the best, most cost-effective solutions more quickly and with more value.
A couple initiatives focused on growth are our cross-company collaboration and formalizing centers of excellence around digital engineering and AI/ML.
When Axient came together, we knew we were strong in these areas, but now that the dust has settled, we are focused on pulling together the latest in lessons learned across our Defense and Civilian customers and looking to innovations in the market to optimize our technical solutions in digital engineering and AI/ML.
Our depth and breadth in these areas is impressive, and we are not letting the silos of different business units stifle that innovation or progress. We are bringing the brightest minds together across the company to ensure the way Axient delivers digital engineering and AI/ML is best-in-class and superior to other offerings.
We are also embracing our evolution from small businesses to one strong, large business. We are a mid-size agile company that quickly collaborates across our capability sets to find solutions for our customers. We are large enough to have the capabilities and expertise to go after larger bids, but we have brought our entrepreneurial, agile, team-oriented efficiency to our pursuits.
If you need something or someone you just pick up the phone and you get a friendly, ‘how can I help’ response, regardless of where in the company that person is. We all want to see this company succeed and people’s willingness to help always gives me hope and confidence in this company’s future.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to Axient’s culture? How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market?
Patience Samson: “Our core values are: Integrity, Leadership, Expertise, Innovation, Diversity, Growth, Teamwork, and Community. We try to embody these in every one of our initiatives – both technically for our customer and within the ‘walls’ of Axient.
We have leaders and employees who hold each other accountable and want to give their best every day. The most important of these in my mind is diversity. We rely on diversity to come to the best solutions, both internally to Axient and for our customers.
Diversity of thought and perspective opens the door to possibilities. It is within that possibility, true achievement occurs. Working with the best talent, we leverage our technologies and systems internally to allow for efficient business optimization so we can focus on bringing value and talent quickly to our customers.
We spend IRAD and compensate to ensure our customers have the best talent and solutions while ensuring our infrastructure is efficient with systems and processes to save time and money.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does Axient 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?
Patience Samson: “We firmly believe in Axient careers, not just jobs, and a team who feels supported in and out of the workplace. Every employee is valued as a human first. We realize the amount of time we spend with our teams and at work is significant, and we try to find ways to make that as enjoyable of an experience as possible.
We focus on employee morale through traditional total compensation, benefits, and professional development funding, as well as regular company and family-focused events, giving back to our communities, sponsoring programs important to our employees and customers, and trying to show our employees every day we care about their wellbeing – in and out of the ‘office.’
We’re also starting two different programs this year I am very excited about – a future leaders development program and a technical fellows program. Each is meant to identify and develop our employees for professional and company growth. Informed, recognized employees make businesses successful because they bring that excitement and motivation to their teams and customers.
We recognize we must develop our employees both through teaching them about the company, how to be successful within it, and how to be a good business leader (the future leaders program), but also encouraging and promoting their technical excellence through the fellows program. We employ some ridiculously smart and motivated people, and we want them to know we are proud they are with Axient!”
ExecutiveBiz: An important part of a company having strong business ethics in the federal sector is about helping and giving back to the greater community. Can you speak to the various charities and work with other organizations that your company does to make a difference and how people can get involved?
Patience Samson: “This is the area I am most looking forward to this year. Our legacy companies were all very involved in their local communities, and we are really excited to build upon that in different ways at Axient. In addition to giving back, we make it a point to regularly host employee morale and family events, which help us practice what we preach when we say we believe in work-life balance.
The first is our non-profit, Axient in Action, which gives employees the ability to donate pre-tax with 100% company matching. This non-profit has giving cycles and gives back to all of our communities across the US. We give to a variety of organizations to truly make an impact where it matters in each community – veterans, disadvantaged youth, education, women, homelessness, STEAM outreach, etc. – this organization’s giving knows no bounds.
The second way we’ve teamed with our employees is through our new Accelerators in Action volunteering program. We have coordinators at different locations across the US and have at least once/month volunteer events. Spending time giving back creates such a meaningful experience for our employees and the communities in which they work.
We try to target a variety of organizations that are near and dear to our employees. We want to show we care about what they care about. You meet and connect with some of the best people volunteering and also make some great lasting connections at work with people throughout the organization doing a variety of things.
It really helps build team culture and make it that much easier for people to pick up the phone at work to collaborate. We want to break down barriers as much as possible and bring people face-to-face again now that we can.”
ExecutiveBiz: We often discuss innovation from the technical or capability side. What are some of the unique challenges that you’ve seen on the business side of innovation that haven’t been addressed or discussed enough?
Patience Samson: “Working through the pandemic brought so many communication and work-life balance challenges that I believe the government contracting community still isn’t addressing enough. It’s why so many people are still leaving their jobs. They don’t feel connected, and their employers are not doing enough to keep them and communicate with them.
From a technology perspective, we have the right tools, it’s just a matter of utilizing them to their fullest extent and being innovative about how we work, communicate, and prioritize our work activities.
We all worked a certain way pre-pandemic, and we must all reassess what work functions are a priority (keeping customers and employees first always), and then realigning teams and processes accordingly. This is a worthy endeavor at least once/year and especially now that many people are headed back into offices, even part-time.
We must find efficiency in our systems, processes, and work spaces to make back office functions seamless from an efficiency and cost-savings perspective so we can deliver more value to our customers.
We went through phases of this pre-pandemic, but the pandemic truly taught us what was really necessary from a work perspective. There is no going back to the ‘way it was.’ There is only learning from our experiences and moving into a better version of the work in 2022 and beyond.
We must over communicate through every means we have – email, intranet sites, collaborative tools, phones, regularly-scheduled in-person or virtual check-ins. People are trying to maintain healthier work-life balances, and we must accommodate that through flexible work environments while also empowering our management teams to lead in new and innovative ways.
I believe companies are looking at new ways to work – physical locations, flexible work hours, etc. but I don’t believe companies are looking at retraining their management to lead in this new environment. It is incumbent upon leaders to adapt to this new workforce and way of working. Expectations must be clearly communicated at every level.
This all comes down to prioritizing and investing in what’s important and letting that flow down to all decisions. We prioritize our employees and customers at Axient, and every decision we make for the company should reflect that. Satisfied employees are productive employees who make customers happy.
This is true and affects the bottom line every time. We must think innovatively beyond the traditional 9-5 about how we organize our teams, how we prioritize their work, and how we deliver to our customers.
At Axient, our management recognizes this shift and at every level we work hand-in-hand with our employees to adjust, listen, and work on solutions together. We are trying to stay agile. I am excited to see what this next year brings for Axient as we stay flexible and innovative and how that translates to more value for our customers and growth for the company.”