The finalists for this year’s Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards were announced in September 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.
David Fout, President and CEO of Aquilent, is nominated for “Executive of the Year” in the $25 – $75 million category. Aquilent is also nominated for “Contractor of the Year” in the same category. Read our interview with Fout below.
WashingtonExec: What would you say was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
David Fout: The year I co-led a management buyout of our division from Commerce One and we became Aquilent and focused solely on the Federal space was a defining moment in the success of Aquilent. We defined a collaborative and clear vision, offerings and target market, and we focused on how to deliver value to our customer. We continue to forge ahead with that same focus and approach. This is also the year I took over as CEO over Aquilent.
“A great leader is somebody who can inspire people to believe what is possible, foster an ownership and unwavering commitment to the creation of a compelling and worthy vision and plan to support that vision and establish accountability for its success or failure.”
WashingtonExec: What book did you read this summer?
David Fout: A book I re-read almost every year is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Even though it was published in 1936, I never fail to get something new out of reading it and it is applicable today as it was almost 100 years ago.
WashingtonExec: What makes a good leader? How would you describe your leadership style?
David Fout: A great leader is somebody who can inspire people to believe what is possible, foster an ownership and unwavering commitment to the creation of a compelling and worthy vision and plan to support that vision and establish accountability for its success or failure.
My leadership style is to create clear expectations for roles and responsibilities and establish strong accountability throughout the organization focused on measurable results.
“You can do anything you believe you can do, so reach for the stars!”
WashingtonExec: What three pieces of advice would you give your kids?
1) You will learn so much more from your mistakes and failures than you ever will from your success.
2) Say what you are going to do and then do what you are going to say.
3.) You can do anything you believe you can do, so reach for the stars!
The following responses includes commentary from multiple Aquilent team members and are attributed as a corporate response…
WashingtonExec: As a leader in the community, how have you approached the government shutdown? What did you learn from the last government shutdown?
Aquilent: Aquilent has been in the government market for 30 years. We understand that being a government contractor means focusing on supporting our customers—particularly through uncertainty and change. We approached the shutdown like we do all of our business decisions: We maintain our strategy while preparing for different outcomes meanwhile always considering the impact of our stakeholders – all of our stakeholders. The Aquilent Way is our commitment to:
- Solve problems for our customers
- Support and invest in our employees
- Collaborate with our partners
- Provide a reasonable return to our stockholders
- Demonstrate corporate responsibility to our community
“Our biggest accomplishment has been our growth year after year in an unpredictable environment. “
WashingtonExec: What is your 2014 market outlook for the federal contracting community? Where are you seeing areas for growth?
Aquilent: While some areas of government may see budget cuts for 2014, Aquilent is focused on helping agencies adhere to the Digital Government initiative through our Mobile and Digital Strategy and Web Content Management services. Additionally, we are already helping customers save time and money through our Cloud Computing services. Based on the synergy between the 2014 federal market outlook and Aquilent strengths, we are in a strong growth position.
WashingtonExec: How does your company identify and then cultivate high-potential employees to become leaders in your organization?
Aquilent: Aquilent has a unique Leadership Program designed specifically to help employees evolve into leadership positions. Employees are invited to participate and train on key leadership skills; there are firm participation expectations for those that elect to enroll in the program. The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Our Leadership Program has helped build an engaged and committed team of leaders who inspire future participants in the program.
WashingtonExec: How does your organization engage effectively with all levels of employees, on and off site?
Aquilent: Aquilent has a strong understanding of the value of communication and participation – we have communication as one of our main strategic goals. We regularly communicate clear goals for the company and for employees while at the same time providing the opportunity to engage in a more family-style environment. We have programs such as AquilentCares, which lets our employees designate Aquilent funds to their favorite charity, and AquilentFit, which provides health and wellness initiatives throughout the organization. Aquilent also hosts a variety of employee events all around the national capitol region including paintball, happy hours, wine and cheese tasting, a robust bring-your-kids-to-work-day program, and much more.
WashingtonExec: What trends are you seeing that are important to your customers?
Aquilent: Our customers’ priorities are focused on value more than specific trends. They focus on mission first, and do more with less. They want to transfer worry, get fast results, make sure the results are long lasting and they want a responsive, committed partner. That’s why we created our 4-Point Aquilent Advantage. Through our 4-Point Aquilent Advantage we:
- pledge to deliver an initial solution to our customers within 90 days of contract start
- completely own our customers’ problems, allowing them to focus on their business and mission
- deliver ongoing strategic guidance to help our customers meet their long-term goals
- consistently deliver a world-class customer experience by providing substantial value, exceptional customer service, and ensuring customer satisfaction
WashingtonExec: What is your company’s biggest accomplishment in the last 12-18 months?
Aquilent: Our biggest accomplishment has been our growth year after year in an unpredictable environment. That said, one accomplishment in particular that has been highly impactful to our customers is our pioneering approach and ongoing stewardship around cloud computing. We were early advocates for the benefits of cloud and continue to drive the value of cloud beyond just cost savings in technology but also in other areas around cloud management. A great example of our approach to cloud innovation is our newest solution, the Olympus Powered by Aquilent™ cloud resource management portal designed specifically for federal customers. Olympus helps agencies:
- Manage all cloud resources in consistent, unified logical categories
- Reduce system administration costs with the intuitive, full-featured interface
- Easily view all billing and utilization activity down to the resource level
- Ensure the branded agency’s cloud portal is 508 compliant
- Deploy the portal securely within an agency’s cloud environment
- Easily manage access and fully audit all activities with a single sign-on
- Manage and reduce environmental costs through scheduled tasks
- Integrate business systems and processes through the flexible portal platform
WashingtonExec: How is your company involved in the community? (Corporate citizenship).
Aquilent: Aquilent has a program called AquilentCares that focuses specifically on demonstrating corporate responsibility in our community. The goals of AquilentCares are to:
- positively impact our community
- promote team building through shared experiences around philanthropic activities
- foster company pride among employees
AquilentCares is run by a committee of employee volunteers who encourage grassroots efforts for employees to get involved in charitable efforts meaningful to them. AquilentCares initiatives include:
- Spring Food Drive Kickoff
- Spring Adopt‐A‐Road
- Blood Drive
- MD Half Marathon
- Summer Adopt‐A‐Road
- School Supply Drive Kickoff
- Coat Drive
- Fall Adopt‐A‐Road
- Winter Adopt‐A‐Road
- Toys for Tots Kickoff/Sponsor A Family for Christmas
In addition to AquilentCares, we offer a Charity Match Program to support charitable causes important to each individual employee. Aquilent will match one contribution per employee per calendar year to the qualified charity of their choice.