June 28, 2018 – The federal government continues reaching out to Silicon Valley for solutions to help address its critical technology challenges in areas like cyber, data analytics, cloud migration and big data. To keep pace, federal contractors responsible for helping bring these solutions to government are searching for executives and companies to help lead this effort.
Executive search firm ESGI recently placed John Walsh as senior vice president of information technology solutions for Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a $4.5 billion provider of government services and information technology support. Evan Scott, president of the Washington, D.C.-headquartered recruiter, led the search.
“John’s experience with leading edge technologies on a global scale will help SAIC advise the federal government on how to best protect our country from cyber attacks,” said Mr. Scott. “He will also lead SAIC and how to best incorporate data analytics and put into action to solve our country’s most imminent threats.”
Mr. Walsh served 10 years at the Department of Defense. He was also an 18-year veteran leader at CSRA, a publicly traded technology services and solutions firm recently acquired by General Dynamics. Mr. Walsh has over 27 years experience in leading teams worldwide at scale of $1 billion P&L and teams of 4,400 delivering technology services in 86 countries and closing over $10 billion in sales to date. He has worked and lived in five countries and has deep experience in the public and private sector, led start-ups, turnarounds, sales acceleration, acquisitions and divestitures, in systems development, engineering, digitization and technology product development & services.
SAIC is a technology integrator providing full lifecycle services and solutions in the technical, engineering, intelligence and enterprise information technology markets. It provides systems engineering and integration offerings for large, complex projects. Headquartered in Reston, VA, SAIC has about 15,000 employees.
Established in 2000, ESGI specializes in the federal contracting and technology sectors. The firm has handled senior-level assignments with industry leaders such as CSRA, SAIC, Deloitte, CAP Gemini, CACI, PAE, Iron Mountain Federal and FCI Federal Solutions. ESGI is currently involved in finding senior-level talent in the cyber, cloud computing, data centers, analytics, intelligence and healthcare fields.
With nearly three decades of experience, Mr. Scott has helped numerous systems integrators, high-tech software and services companies, and small government contractors hire top-level executive talent. His clients have included blue-chip companies such as Lockheed Martin, Oracle, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Adobe, Unisys and SRA International. He has helped fill positions ranging from the board of directors and corporate officers, such as the CEO, COO and CFO, to directors of federal operations, business development, sales and a host of other executive roles.
Evan, describe the type of leader SAIC looking for?
They were seeking an executive who had both commercial and federal experience along with a past history of leading a global business – very difficult and challenging credentials to find in one candidate who would fit their culture. The person had to be a visionary and innovator in technology and have a futuristic view of where technology is headed. Based on this knowledge we were seeking someone who has created new markets and opportunities for their companies. The mission is to help advance SAIC to be a leader in technologies the federal government will need to deploy to meet future challenges. This includes data analytics, machine learning, cybersecurity, cloud migration and artificial intelligence.
“Federal contracting is a very specific skill-set. Thus, the pool of talent that understand this market is limited and the demand is great.”
Is demand high for this specific type of talent?
The demand for this type of profile is intense and is a great example how retained search offers companies a strategic advantage in finding and hiring this talent. This was a critical hire for the company and demonstrated their understanding of the importance to be out front on where the world will be impacted by advanced technical advances.
What made this an appealing position to candidates?
This position is two reports away from the CEO of a $4.5 billion NYSE company. This was a strategic hire driven by the CEO and COO. The individual would have the opportunity to help bring leading-edge technology to all federal agencies thru a tier-one integrator. This is a peer position to all the general managers and has high visibility and importance to the business. The impact this position will have in the federal government is significant.
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What can you tell us about the current state of the federal sector and recruiting executives in this area? What positions are most in demand? What types of organizations are in hiring mode?
There are hundreds of what we call small business (8a) Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), minority-owned federal contractors based in the Washington, D.C., region. The federal government dictates that at least 40 percent of all federal contracts include small businesses. Anyone with a great idea that can help the federal government meet their mission goals has the opportunity to build a nice business. However, once they pass a targeted revenue they lose their small business designation and need to compete in a full and open environment. Most of these contractors do not have the talent who can help them compete with the likes of AWS, Microsoft, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman and other federal integrators. There exists a supply and demand issue for the top talent in the federal market. We have close to zero unemployment and businesses recognize the talent that they need are employed. Recruiting activity is active at both small, mid-size and large companies.
What does this mean for search firms serving the sector?
The opportunity for search firms is to help business leaders find talent that can help them grow their business and compete is vast. Federal contracting is a very specific skill-set. Thus, the pool of talent that understand this market is limited and the demand is great. The greatest needs are for business development executives who have intimate relationships with a federal customer and track record of winning procurements. The art of winning federal procurements is to help the customer craft an RFP that demands specific deliverables. Unless a contractor is at the table with a customer and has a high degree of trust, they will not be awarded the work.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media