Jeri Lassiter is the CEO of ASM Research Inc. Having spent more than 30 years with the firm, Lassiter has been responsible for positions in Program Management, Business Development, Financial Management, Contract Management, and Operations Management. She has been the company’s CEO for the last 12 years and has led the firm from a small business of 160 employees to a mid-size organization of 480 employees.
ASM Research recently won the Small Business Partner of the Year Award ($25 to $100 million in revenue) at the 2013 SECAF Government Contractor Awards. Lassiter spoke to WashingtonExec about the company’s award win, what it means to be recognized by SECAF, advice to small businesses, the impact of the current LPTA environment on the contracting community and more.
WashingtonExec: What does it mean to you to be recognized by SECAF’s Government Contractor Awards?
Jeri Lassiter: Being recognized by SECAF for working with and actively supporting small businesses is a great honor, but it is also a deliberate and successful business strategy for ASM and a major initiative in our Strategic Plan.
WashingtonExec: What advice do you have for small businesses who are working hard to achieve success in this time of economic challenges in the contracting industry?
Jeri Lassiter: Stay focused on your customers and deliver the highest quality products and services. Also, do whatever it takes to overcome any problems and successfully accomplishing what you were hired to do for your client. Your reputation should be your strongest asset, and your commitment to the success of the program is prized by your customers.
“Taking risks is at the heart of being an entrepreneur, but the risk must be solidly backed with strong current research of the venture and an understanding of all of the risks involved in order to have solid plans for success”
WashingtonExec: Does the LPTA environment help small businesses accomplish their goals or hurt their goals?
Jeri Lassiter: I think whether you are a large, small or mid-size company, LPTA is a reality you have to deal with. Unfortunately, I think that it has the biggest negative impact on the customer being able to acquire the highest quality low risk solutions.
WashingtonExec: What can small businesses do to stand out in the government contracting community?
Jeri Lassiter: Always deliver high quality products and services on time and within budget. Stay closely in touch with your customer and on top of their current and changing requirements and priorities; identify and bring them innovative ideas and solutions.
WashingtonExec: Are you finding the current budget climate better (or worse) for teaming opportunities or better for priming opportunities etc?
Jeri Lassiter: For ASM, priming opportunities are best in this climate. It allows us control over our own work and the ability to quickly make decisions and adjust to achieve results for our customer. We are also able to overcome any issues as well as offer the best price.
WashingtonExec: What’s the greatest risk an entrepreneur can take?
Jeri Lassiter: Taking risks is at the heart of being an entrepreneur, but the risk must be solidly backed with strong current research of the venture and an understanding of all of the risks involved in order to have solid plans for success. An entrepreneur must be fully committed to the hard work it will take to be successful. Hard work will go far to mitigate many risks.
WashingtonExec: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? OR What is your favorite book?
Jeri Lassiter: My favorite book is the Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni. I like all of the books in this series. They helped me in taking a hard look at myself and provided very good actionable items to make me a better leader and build a better, stronger functioning organization.
WashingtonExec: What is something most people might not know about you?
Jeri Lassiter: I grew up in an Air Force family and went to five different second grades; and no I didn’t have to do it over five times it was all in one year! I think that this transient military life style and experience made me very self-reliant and eager to meet new people and have new experiences.