In the latest Executive Spotlight interview, Redhorse Corp. CEO John Zangardi, a 2022 Wash100 Award recipient, spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding his growth strategy goals since being appointed to his role in December as well as new market opportunities and where he hopes the company will be by the end of 2022.
In addition, Zangardi also discussed Redhorse’s organization changes and investment from Blue Delta Capital Partners as well as the core values of the company’s company culture and how federal agencies are addressing the needs to improve their cybersecurity ecosystems.
“It is in the Redhorse DNA to strive to be truly customer focused and to fully appreciate their challenges. We want our customers to recognize our integrity. Because many of us have been in the customer’s shoes, we know how important it is for them to know that their needs are understood, and they are offered a relevant service or solution. That enables long-term success.”
You can read the full interview with John Zangardi below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on being appointed Redhorse’s CEO back in Dec. What can you tell us about your history with the company since May 2020 and your growth initiatives and markets that you’re looking to expand and dive into as the new CEO. What are your 2022 goals?
John Zangardi: “Throughout my career, I have had the unique privilege of serving in government and the military in a variety of challenging leadership roles. In each of those roles, I found myself uniquely engaged and focused on mission.
As I considered a career in industry, I still wanted to support missions and get some dirt under my fingernails. More importantly, I wanted to lead and be part of the solution solving complex national security and federal government problems. Supporting the mission is still an important factor for me. Mission is just hard to get out of your blood.
Based on some sage advice, I recognized that being on the team of a smaller or mid-sized company like Redhorse Corporation was the way to go. Employment with a smaller company, by necessity, gets you engaged across a broader spectrum of business-related activities from P&L to M&A.
Redhorse offered me an exceptional opportunity to develop those new business skills, get dirt under my fingernails, and work on interesting mission related problems. Over the last two years, I’ve grown professionally and personally, and met many of my objectives for a post government career.
Redhorse Corporation is at an interesting point in its history. The fundamentals of the company are solid. Redhorse has supported DoD’s Joint Artificial Center (JAIC) since day one. We were awarded the Missions Directorate Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) in 2020 and recently expanded that work by being awarded the Data Readiness for Artificial Intelligence Development (DRAID) Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA).
This enables us to put our outstanding data analytics capabilities into further motion. Redhorse also has broad energy and environmental past performance. We are poised for growth. The investment from Blue Delta Capital Partners starts putting us over the goal line in terms of accelerated growth.
I’m focused now on bringing on the right talent to build on the solid foundation that is Redhorse and strengthen our focus on growth. We’ve recently hired a new COO, Nancy St. Louis. She’s already making a significant difference in sharpening our business processes. I am thrilled to have her on the team.
We are also in the process of bringing on a CGO to drive Redhorse growth and more clearly define our brand. I’m privileged to be leading Redhorse and excited that Redhorse is a part of Blue Delta Capital Partners portfolio of investments.”
ExecutiveBiz: With the growth-focused organization changes and investment from Blue Delta Capital Partners, what can you tell us about Redhorse’s mission to deliver the best-in-class data analytics and AI based solutions to drive U.S. national security and your federal customers?
John Zangardi: “When I was in government, I appreciated organizations that brought forward solutions that addressed the challenges that we faced and helped spearhead mission success. The Redhorse Corporation mission is to be a partner with our energy, environment, national security, and intelligence agency customers to deliver innovative technical solutions for complex problems of national importance. Redhorse wants to help the government customer overcome challenges to mission success.
The final report from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI) pointed to the potential for AI to have a profound impact on national security. The Chair of the committee has said “America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era.”
I believe that America can be prepared and will rise to the challenge. Redhorse wants to be an integral part of ensuring that the US not just competes but is successful in an AI powered future by bringing best in class talent and technical solutions.
As a former Navy P-3 squadron Commanding Officer, I can see the promise that AI and Machine Learning (ML) portend for improving aircraft availability as well as mission critical systems. There are other areas that AI/ML and automated workflows can deliver increased effectiveness and efficiency in other areas as well. AI can enhance cybersecurity.
On the energy front, AI powered microgrids can deliver energy at the right price, place, and time improving reliability and delivering cost effectiveness. Automated workflows can reduce the mountains of paperwork that government agencies are burdened with thereby improving the customer experience, a focus of the Biden Administration.
Blue Delta Capital Partners believes that Redhorse has a unique perspective and opportunity to deliver best-in-class data analytics and AI/ML solutions. The experience and guidance that the Blue Delta team brings is a powerful force multiplier for Redhorse with our data analytics, energy management, and digital modernization capabilities. The partnership opens our aperture and builds on the experience and expertise resident in Redhorse.”
ExecutiveBiz: How would you describe the Redhorse team’s culture and innovative-focused skill sets to drive actionable insights and new capabilities for your customers? What are the core values you build a team around to ensure long term success for the company and ensure long-term employee success?
John Zangardi: “Let’s first talk about core values. When I served in the Navy, I subscribed to the organization’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment. Those principles guided me in my Navy career. Core values are a cornerstone for an organization.
Redhorse Corporation’s core values put the customer and their mission at the heart of our work and ensure our long-term internal success. We value integrity, accountability, common sense, teamwork, and employee empowerment.
We hold each other accountable for our actions and take full responsibility for our decisions. We empower each other to voice ideas and opinions, communicating transparently with each other to enable rational and efficient decision-making.
It is in the Redhorse DNA to strive to be truly customer focused and to fully appreciate their challenges. We want our customers to recognize our integrity. Because many of us have been in the customer’s shoes, we know how important it is for them to know that their needs are understood, and they are offered a relevant service or solution. That enables long-term success.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the more critical challenges that federal agencies and organizations need to address to improve their cybersecurity ecosystems and fight against new threats and comply with standards such as zero-trust architecture?
John Zangardi: “Cybersecurity is something that is here to stay. The threats to networks, applications, and critical infrastructure are profound and real. If I were still a CIO in government, cyber would keep me awake at night.
I think it is so important for government CIOs and CISOs to be focused on several things which include implementation of zero trust (ZT), modernization, cyber hygiene, endpoint security, and cybersecurity ecosystem diversity.
In the current environment, implementing zero trust is critically important.I saw the potential and embraced zero trust back in 2016. I’m thrilled to see the Biden Executive Orders and government wide focus on zero trust. However, zero trust isn’t something that can be bought right out of the box. It is something that must be thought through to architect and execute a never trust, always verify approach.
Modernization and cyber hygiene go together. Replacing legacy, configuration management, and patching go a long way to deter network breaches. I know from first-hand experience that each of these is easier said than done. CIO and CISO teams must prioritize and ensure the most important and vulnerable aspects of the network receive immediate attention.
Endpoints have proliferated. COVID has changed the way we work. Employees can be checking onto the network from anywhere – a coffee shop or their home or a foreign country. Endpoint security is preventative medicine for a network.
When you look at Solarwinds, it cut across a range of software and services providers. The problem is every one of them could have been affected differently and they were. If you become overly reliant on one main provider and that provider is tied to your cybersecurity and software applications, you can have a significant issue if they are compromised.
If you’ve created a diverse system with more than one or two providers, then you have a backup plan. It’s never going to be perfect, but it’s better than being reliant on one thing.
There is one last thing to consider. Build and practice a plan for what your organization will do if a breach occurs. After a breach occurs, it is too late. A well-practiced plan can make a world of difference.”