WashingtonExec Series: Want To Be GovCon Executive Of The Year?
The finalists for this year’s Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were announced last month and WashingtonExec is bringing you its annual series with the nominees.
The winners will be unveiled on November 7th at The Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce (FCCC), the Professional Services Council (PSC) and Washington Technology magazine. With over 900 business and public sector leaders attending the event, our series will keep you up-to-date about all the finalists for this year–who they are, what they do, and why they are worthy of winning.
Today’s interview is with Joe Martore, President and CEO, CALIBRE and nominee for “Executive of the Year” in the $75 to $300 million division. CALIBRE won the 2012 GovCon Awards in the “Contractor of the Year”, $75 million to $300 million category, and Martore was most recently a finalist for the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, Greater DC area.
WashingtonExec: As a leader in the community, how have you approached the government shutdown? What did you learn from the last government shutdown?
Joe Martore: Since we could not know the extent or duration of the shutdown, we approached the government shutdown by reviewing our business plans for any needed adjustments, and communicating early and often with our employees. We were able to realign those few individuals that were impacted to other duties and projects, and in some cases relocating their place of work to allow projects to continue. Throughout the shutdown, we reassessed our actions and provided status updates to employees.
WashingtonExec: What is your 2014 market outlook for the federal contracting community? Where are you seeing areas for growth?
Joe Martore: We see continued topline pressure driven by federal budget reduction goals. In addition, intense competition, contracting delays, and increases in protest activity will become more common. In addition to increased competition, we see pressure on rates resulting from increases in healthcare costs. We see growth in areas of mission critical priorities such as cyber, Big Data, secure mobility solutions, and health analytics.
WashingtonExec: How does your company identify and then cultivate high-potential employees to become leaders in your organization?
Joe Martore: CALIBRE uses a combination of Order of Merit rankings and annual performance evaluations to identify high-potential employees.These evaluations help focus our efforts to apply personal attention and appropriate CALIBRE resources to nurture those individuals who have been identified as potential future leaders of our company. Development of these identified high-potential employees is conducted with leadership mentoring and employee participation in our CALIBRE University programs. CALIBRE University consists of four progressive curricula which focus on a wide range of competences, including general skills, employee ownership, communication, diversity, financial management, supervision, and leadership. Participation at the highest levels of CALIBRE University requires nomination from the employee’s leadership and approval from our Corporate Officers. Successful completion of this training will provide a greater appreciation and understanding of the mission of CALIBRE, the complex business challenges we must adapt to, our systematic approach to business development and financial management, and the role that they can have as future leaders.
WashingtonExec: How does your organization engage effectively with all levels of employees, on and off site?
Joe Martore: As an employee-owned company, CALIBRE seeks to engage all employees through multiple communication forums. In addition to a monthly newsletter, a monthly note from the CEO and quarterly lunches with the CEO, CALIBRE annually conducts two corporate meetings in which all employees are invited to attend either in person or remotely via live video connection. At these meetings both the Chairman of the Board and the President & CEO present information on the financial performance of the company and business plans for the future. CALIBRE conducts quarterly meetings with representatives of every organization who meet with executive leadership, the VP of HR, and the VP of IT, to discuss concerns and obtain input on company programs, practices, and operations. CALIBRE has also established an Employee Owners Advisory Committee whose members are nominated by the employees. The Committee charter is to promote a broad-based understanding of CALIBRE’s ESOP and to support a vibrant culture of employee-ownership. The Committee meets with the President & CEO quarterly and selects a member to serve on the Board of Directors as an employee representative. To engage employees for future responsibilities and professional development, the company established CALIBRE University to provide employees at all levels with the skills and knowledge needed to become entrepreneurs within the company to better serve our customers. The CEO and the COO also meet with all new employees at offices around the world to provide a background on the company’s history and business strategy, and to engage employees in the employee-ownership culture of the company.
“To engage employees for future responsibilities and professional development, the company established CALIBRE University to provide employees at all levels with the skills and knowledge needed to become entrepreneurs within the company to better serve our customers.”
WashingtonExec: What trends are you seeing that are important to your customers?
Joe Martore: Customers are continually seeking efficiency and innovative solutions as a means to achieve cost savings while accomplishing mission critical priorities. In response, procurements will become increasingly more competitive, with Low Price Technically Acceptable solutions applying pressure to contractor bottom line expectations. In the longer term, however, we believe that our customers will return to best value acquisitions as risks associated with LPTA procurements become apparent.
WashingtonExec: What is your company’s biggest accomplishment in the last 12-18 months?
Joe Martore: CALIBRE has successfully competed for and won several key contracts and task orders in the last 18 months, including the Army Force Management School and the Veterans Affairs Veterans Opportunity to Work/Veterans Employment Initiative. As a result of our engaged employee-owners’ focus on providing enduring solutions for our customers, perhaps our key accomplishment this past year was reporting the highest total sales in the company’s history, while being named Government Contractor of the Year ($75M – $300M) and as one of the best midsized companies to work for by Fortune Magazine.
WashingtonExec: How is your company involved in the community?
Joe Martore: CALIBRE encourages and supports involvement in every community where employees live and work. The company gives back to the community not only financially, but also with employee time and talents, from supporting the neighborhood elementary school with leadership awards to national cancer awareness and Wounded Warrior programs, from Red Cross blood drives to highway cleanup, and numerous clothing, toy, and school supply drives. Executives serve on the Board of Directors of Easter Seals Serving DC | MD | VA, the Laurel Grove School Museum (the last surviving schoolhouse in Fairfax County founded by former slaves), The Professional Services Council, and the Transportation Association of Greater Springfield. The company takes great pride in encouraging continued philanthropic, charitable, and volunteer outreach to local, regional, and national activities. The concept of “being a good citizen” is so important that it is one of CALIBRE’s six corporate objectives. CALIBRE employees are empowered to make an impact in their communities and our Nation, and actively practice good citizenship and community outreach.
WashingtonExec: What would you say was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
Joe Martore: Perhaps a turning point in my career was leaving a position as an executive in a publicly traded firm to start my own company. Through much support from advisors, business associates, and fellow employees, I was able to grow as an executive to better develop the skills and qualities needed as a successful business leader.
WashingtonExec: What book did you read this summer?
Joe Martore: How Will You Measure Your Life, by Clayton M. Christensen, and The Archimedes Codex (How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist), by Reviel Netz and William Noel.
WashingtonExec: What makes a good leader? How would you describe your leadership style?
Joe Martore: A good leader fosters an approach that engages employees, encourages focused business planning and smart investments, improves the quality and value of the services provided, manages risk-taking, and perpetuates an intense focus on the success of the customer while taking care of employees. For this reason, we created CALIBRE University to develop entrepreneurs and leaders throughout the company and to prepare the next level of leadership. I coach and reinforce the philosophy and practice of CALIBRE’s First Principles of uncompromising ethics, superior quality work, and ongoing corporate and individual renewal. My leadership style is to engage and motivate our management team and employees, while actively fostering a culture of integrity, customer focus, information sharing, and innovation.
WashingtonExec: What three pieces of advice would you give your kids?
1) Maintain your integrity and honesty in everything you do, and treat all people with respect.
2) Work hard. Red Auerbach, acclaimed coach of the Boston Celtics, said that whenever you think you are good enough, someone is always in the gym getting better.
3) Recognize that to whom much is given, much is expected, and seek to make a difference in the lives of others by giving back a portion of what we have been fortunate enough to receive.