Terri Malone, senior vice president and chief growth officer for Serco, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about joining the company in her current role as well as the critical core values that drive the company’s culture and how its leadership is addressing the significant challenges in the labor market to drive growth moving forward during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full interview with Terri Malone below.
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on recently joining Serco! 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?
Terri Malone: “One of the things that immediately attracted me to Serco was that our capabilities line up with the most urgent challenges that the federal government is facing, both in the defense sector and the citizen services side of our business.
The leadership was very focused on where they want to take the business. But equally important, it’s a company that puts people at the very center of how we deliver solutions. I come from a background that was focused on larger systems. So, I really appreciate the ‘people-first’ approach of combining the right people with innovation and technology.
It’s been very rewarding to see how we are impacting the safety and security of the nation, and the welfare of our citizens, in very tangible ways. It infuses an organization and its people with that extra jolt of energy.
Coming from the growth side, I love being in a position of knowing we have proven capabilities and connecting the dots to map out who else really needs this. Where can we make a difference in a big way?
There are so many pockets of excellence at Serco that I’m learning about every day. Taking those capabilities to a broader set of customers is the kind of challenge that fills me with energy and gets me up in the morning. I see this as my personal mission to get those awesome capabilities into the hands of a broader customer community.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to your company’s culture? How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market?
Terri Malone: “It all starts with four words: Trust. Care. Innovation. Pride.
No matter who I bump into in the hallway at this company, everyone knows those four words without having to look at their badge or a poster on the wall. People at Serco walk the walk. They live and breathe our values. It’s an impressive culture because it’s not just a poster on the wall; it’s a lifestyle.
We have a very diverse portfolio of missions and customers, but I see the same values across each of our sectors and customer sets. That culture governs how teams work together. It’s how we make our business decisions at Serco. It also enables us to truly collaborate with our customers more deeply. Corporate politics are nonexistent here.
That truly is a competitive differentiator for what Serco is about and how we run our business.”
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk about what Serco does to work with charities and get people involved in the communities where you operate?
Terri Malone: “For Serco, our engagement flows out of our value of care — supporting the communities in which we work and the causes our people are involved in. But it’s also about supporting your colleagues and teammates across the company. Having each other’s backs.
It seems like every week, I have seen another example of how the people at Serco dig deep and get involved. The other night when I was leaving the office at 6:30 in the evening, I walked past the cafeteria, and I saw 50 people who were working on filling up backpacks.
Well, it turns out that we support an organization called FACETS here in Fairfax County to help parents and children dealing with poverty. Those team members had dedicated everything children would need for back to school to start the new school year on a strong note.
Another example is when we recently had severe flooding down in Southern Virginia. We had some Serco employees whose homes were damaged and were temporarily displaced. People came together to raise money to get them through that difficult time. And that shows the level of care that is woven into the organization’s fabric.
We have also seen tremendous growth in the membership of our employee resource groups just in the past year, which provides a forum and resources for female employees, veterans, and various other groups.
Each of these employee resource groups has a sponsor at the highest levels of senior management. So, it is making the clear statement that there is a path for everyone to reach their potential at Serco. It doesn’t matter if you come to Serco with an existing professional network – we will get you the mentoring and resources you need.”
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the labor market challenges for your company as the talent gaps in the workforce continue to be an issue, with demand only increasing in cybersecurity and other critical areas?
Terri Malone: “To be sure, we’re facing the same talent changes and challenges that everyone else is facing in our industry. As I mentioned, Serco is a people-focused company, which means recruiting and talent retention is at the front of everyone’s minds.
It’s not just our recruiting team, but it’s a matter of pride for our people to share their pride in Serco and our mission to help recruit other talented employees. They want to build cohesive teams and bring in other top talent to build the organization.
Our customers genuinely love our technical solutions. Often that technical solution or innovative approach is what gets you to the table. It’s what the customer expects from you when they award you the contact in the first place.
But if you don’t have the right people to back it up, everything can fail. Serco’s focus on those people and ensuring that we are always bringing who we need into the company is foundational to everything we do at Serco.
We have an intern program focused on giving an experience to the interns where they get tons of facetime with executives and are handed challenging projects where they can really take ownership of something meaningful.
Many of these capstone projects were focused on Serco’s environmental impact, putting metrics around social and governance issues. That’s another aspect of making a difference – people want to be associated with a company that is aligned with doing the right thing and understanding our impact across these perspectives.
Over the last four years, nearly 80 percent of the interns who were eligible for employment were offered and accepted permanent positions at Serco. That demonstrates how we are investing in the seed corn of new talent and how they view the internship experience.
We spend so much time at work — and at work can now mean in the office, hybrid, or remote — but it is where you are pouring so much of your life energy. When you can see how those efforts connect to these larger outcomes and touch other people, that’s what keeps people engaged.
Equally important is that we can approach the traditional expectation of how many people it will take to do a set of tasks and then apply things like robotic process automation and machine learning to take a lot of the repetitive labor content out of that.
We look for ways to inject technology, alternative work arrangements, and innovation to reframe how you deliver the work in new ways.
We are intensely committed to working with groups like military spouses, who can be an amazing source of untapped talent by coming up with work arrangements that fit their circumstances.
So, yes, the labor market is a challenge. But we are attacking that in multiple ways and creating value for our clients in the process.”