James Gordon, CEO of DRT Strategies, spoke with ExecutiveBiz about recently joining and becoming the company’s new CEO as well as the impact and changes that talent recruitment and retention are driving in regard to the workforce challenges in the federal landscape.
In addition, Gordon, a 2022 Wash100 Award recipient, discussed the significant influence of IT modernization on the data management, platforms and network challenges in the federal health sector during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with James Gordon below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on recently becoming CEO of DRT Strategies! 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 with the company?
James Gordon: “The decision to join DRT Strategies was an easy one for me. Personally, it was a logical next step in my career. The company, culture, and leadership aligned with my values and experience.
DRT has an almost two-decade track record of successfully supporting large government agencies – developing and delivering innovative capabilities and solutions, and creating a culture focused on people, quality, teamwork, mission, and passion for growth.
The company has been in business for as long as I’ve been working in the Health IT industry. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with DRT’s Founder and Chairman, Susan Kidd, and I appreciate the trust to lead the organization.
Susan and I both come from the old-school world of consulting /system integration where the focus is always on helping clients solve some of their toughest challenges. DRT’s agility, access, and purpose truly provide customers with an alternative in the market.
Looking ahead, I believe DRT is well positioned to quickly grow and shape digital transformation in the federal space. I look forward to applying my experience growing technology companies to help the company expand on multiple fronts: our customer base, our solutions and offerings, our brand, and create new opportunities for our employees.”
ExecutiveBiz: How is DRT Strategies ensuring 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?
James Gordon: Understanding the workforce of the future and helping our customers navigate workforce challenges and dynamics is a top priority. Implementing people-centric strategies and nurturing a supportive, empathetic, and people-first culture is a must.
Without fail, at least a third of our senior leadership team conversations in the boardroom are spent discussing company culture and our staff. After all, we are in the people business and people are our greatest asset. Are we doing the right things to attract and keep people who have a long history with us? How do we understand and address what is important to each individual employee?
A priority focus for us is helping employees adapt to the workspace of the future – a combination of on-site, hybrid, and fully remote – while at the same time empowering employees to deliver the best technical solutions to our customers.
Developing a consistent onboarding process, designing effective training programs, focusing on employee engagement and retention, ensuring employees feel comfortable using and applying the latest technologies, and offering competitive benefits and compensation packages are just some of the ways DRT attracts and retains some of the best talents in the market.
The post-COVID workforce landscape is different, so our approach must be different. We are looking at ways to “put the fun back into the office” while piloting alternative work schedules.
Regular team-building activities and company-sponsored events (one of our managing directors just hosted an after-hours wine tasting event at DRT headquarters last week) are just some of the ways we are doubling down on employee engagement and teambuilding.
I would also like to mention our commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion as part of broader recruitment and retention efforts. This is a very important topic for me personally. Our core values are rooted in empathy, dignity, and respect for each other. They are simple words, but our commitment to these values is unwavering.
ExecutiveBiz: As the federal health sector continues to be heavily influenced by IT modernization and a wide range of other initiatives to improve its networks, platforms and data, what are the greatest improvements that are being developed in federal health and what else needs to be addressed?
James Gordon: “Modernization and innovation go hand in hand. We listen to our customers to fully understand their IT modernization journey and implement innovative solutions that fit their specific environments and missions. Achieving quick wins, leveraging emerging technologies, and investing in entrepreneurial solutions are critical components of our modernization strategy.
For example, low code platforms are key to helping customers rapidly realize the benefits of digital transformation and achieve the quick wins necessary for sustained and successful modernization efforts.
At DRT we have built advanced Microsoft Power Platform-based solutions for the CDC to help manage nearly $1B in grants, implemented Salesforce-based solutions for communications hubs and outreach, and designed ServiceNow solutions to digitize and automate legacy processes in support of farmers and the agricultural community as part of our support to the USDA.
As I mentioned, leveraging emerging technologies is critical to modernization. At DRT we created an Idea Lab which is staffed with dedicated technologists and engineers to rapidly build solution prototypes and proofs of concept – quickly meeting evolving customer requirements and demonstrating to our customers how they can leverage the latest technologies.
For example, we built a prototype for the FDA that leverages Machine Learning to help detect fraudulent claims related to COVID-19 products. Our Idea Lab employees were also recognized by the USDA at the agency’s recent RPA challenge for their efforts to build UiPath RPA bots used for a virtual chat, financial reporting, and personnel onboarding.
Lastly, I mentioned investing in entrepreneurial solutions. DRT has built a Governance and Risk Compliance solution “DRTConfidence” which enables agencies to achieve Authority to Operate faster, enhances continuous compliance, and reduces overall assessment costs.
DRTConfidence also enables Cloud Service Providers to submit FedRAMP authorization packages with improved speed and scale. This innovative solution is built from the ground up using NIST’s newly released Open Security Controls Assessment Language.
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?
James Gordon: “DRT has a long history of giving back to the community, especially in the metro DC and Atlanta areas where we have our biggest footprints. As such, we have designated the DC Youth Leadership Foundation as our primary philanthropic organization. Its mission closely aligns with DRT’s values and is part of our effort to ‘give where we live’ in support of children – our future leaders.
YLF serves disadvantaged youth by boosting academic performance while helping develop positive character traits. DRT employees serve as both mentors and sponsors of YLF events, activities, and fundraisers including YLF business workshops, YLF’s Spirit of Service Challenge, and our annual DRT-sponsored YLF 5k Race for D.C. Kids which will take place on September 24 this year.
Additionally, our internal ‘DRT Cares Tiger Team’ organizes and hosts various philanthropic events throughout the year such as volunteer days at the Capital Area Food Bank and the Salvation Army’s Project Angel Tree.
We are not a large company, but we have a very community-focused employee base. They consistently volunteer their time and are always willing to give back to the community.
To support this culture of giving, we developed a program that allows our employees each month to nominate a charity they support or are involved with to receive additional monetary donations from the company.
Community involvement and engagement is ingrained in our culture. It is part of who we are and how our employees bond and come together as a company.”