WashingtonExec, in partnership with the Fairfax Chambers of Commerce, kicked off a new series profiling government contractors nominated for the 9th Annual Greater Washington Government Contracting Awards. Interviewed nominees include small, mid-size and large “Executive of the Year” as well as “Contractor of the Year” finalists. The winners will be announced on November 1st at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner.
This quick bi-weekly series asks nominees direct questions as to how they achieved success and notoriety in the GovCon community.
Today’s series nominee is Phil Panzarella, founding principle and CEO of CPS Professional Services, a Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business focused on business transformation. Panzarella is nominated for “Executive of the Year” in the less than $75 million division.
WashingtonExec: How has the tightening of the lending market impacted you?
Phil Panzarella: As a small business focusing on priorities has become much more of a key factor for survival in this environment of uncertainty. One of the priorities for our firm is effective and timely financial management. We scrutinize the business management of the firm (revenue, expenses, receivables and payables) weekly since these variables directly impact cash flow. We want to make sure we have sufficient cash on hand to ensure we are able to meet our financial commitments to our employees and partners for the future. We have throttled back on planned investments for future growth. As such, we have minimized engagements with the lending community.
WashingtonExec: Obtaining top talent in the private sector is fierce. How does your company not only draw top talent, but maintain it?
Phil Panzarella: In my opinion, there are a number of key factors in acquiring and retaining top talent in this highly competitive market. These factors are:
- Establishing a firm with core values, a proven business model and a plan for future success
- Creating referenceable clients by providing operational performance excellence in all engagements
- Providing a benefit program that offers incentives above and beyond the norm and ensures flexibility for each employee
- Provide a learning and sharing environment and making the work environment an enjoyable team experience
- Ensuring identifiable career paths with coaching support for individual growth
- Provide an option for community involvement – enabling each employee with the opportunity to be a part of something larger than themselves
WashingtonExec: In your opinion, how does a company stay nimble when it is in a period of large growth and expansion?
Phil Panzarella: I think this comes back to focus. A firm cannot be everything to everyone and as such we have to pick our engagements and activities in a conscious and methodical manner. CPS focuses on our core competencies and targeted clients. We ensure our infrastructure, internal processes, and business relationships are in place and developed to accommodate smart growth and yet are flexible enough for us to field opportunistic events. Hand in hand with this approach is building a leadership team that can make effective decisions in a timely manner. We do not always get it right but we are decisive in our actions and we learn from our mistakes. Just so you know it is common practice for CPS to gain client debriefs in all engagements (whether win or loss).
WashingtonExec: People always talk about corporate culture, but what is something that your company purposely focuses on to create and emulate the ideal company culture?
Phil Panzarella: Corporate culture is important to our firm. We want CPS to be recognized as a firm that delivers the highest quality portfolio of management consulting and support services to help our clients resolve their most complex business requirements. We do this by cultivating a culture where people are challenged, trained, recognized and rewarded as they develop to their fullest talent and potential becoming a passionate workforce that is highly sought after by partners and clients. Our vision for CPS is to be trusted by our clients, admired by our employees, respected by our business partners and valued by our community. Creating this culture is a focus for our leadership team.
WashingtonExec: As a nominated CEO “executive of the year”, how are you building a strong, stable and innovative company?
Phil Panzarella: The goal of CPS is to build a strong, stable and innovative company. We do this in four ways:
1. We hire the right people, from the leadership team to the professional office worker. We have a rigorous recruiting network and process. We want to ensure that all employees are not only technically competent but that they fit into the CPS team culture. We look for thought leaders!
2. As a firm, we are making the internal capital investments to ensure our company can handle the regulatory and financial requirements and the future aggressive growth targets that we have put in place. This past year we conducted a sourcing for a new CPA firm, we installed Deltek financials, upgrades our web presence and we migrated from a PEO supported organization to a self-sufficient business entity with our own benefits, HR, 401K, and insurance plans.
3. Our firm is always looking for opportunities to grow our topline revenue. As such we are looking at alternative markets like healthcare to balance our future growth.
4. We manage our financials to maintain a stable environment, capable of sustaining a bench when programs end, utilizing the people and investments to develop new ideas and capabilities, which enable us to grow. This offers stability and “comfort” to both our employees and our customers.
5. Last but not least, we are actively involved in helping people with disabilities – children with autism or wounded soldiers and their families. We partner with Easter Seals, American Freedom Foundation, Operation Smile, and others. We know our employees want the opportunity to give back and to be a part of something larger than themselves and CPS provides the opportunity to do just that.