Kevin Coby acquired SITEC Consulting in February of 2012 — five years after starting his own company, Insight Information Technology. His company was acquired in 2010 and today Coby is president of SITEC — a business process automation consulting and IT firm based in Annapolis Junction, Md.
WashingtonExec spoke with Coby to discuss his background, his view on big data, SITEC’s focuses going forward with their recent Eagle II contract win, and his affinity for author Jack Welch.
WashingtonExec: Could you tell us a little about your background and what made you want to start your own company?
Kevin Coby: The desire to start my own company stems from me wanting to have a positive impact and make a difference in the lives of others. I spent ten years in the Air Force doing Intelligence work and then a couple years at the National Security Agency. While in the Air Force, I was engaged doing systems engineering work and after getting out, I worked with some Fortune 100 and 500 companies, doing everything from systems engineering, program management to business development. Later, in my professional career I joined some smaller companies and got more involved in program management and business development. In 2007 I started my own company, Insight Information Technology. We were acquired in 2010 and I then acquired SITEC Consulting LLC in 2012.
WashingtonExec: Where do you see the federal marketplace headed in the next couple of years?
Kevin Coby: I see the market getting better after we get past the Congressional budget issues and concerns. I see the Federal IT arena continuing to grow… Big Data, analytical data and cyber security will be areas that we will continue to see upward movement..
WashingtonExec: Do you think we will see more M&A activity in the future?
Kevin Coby: I think we will. I think the environment has put us in a position to where some of the mid-sized companies will have to collaborate and work together with either small companies or larger companies. With the sequestration and shut down issues that we face, I think the mid-sized companies will have to make some hard decisions, in terms of where they want to play; via small or decide to compete with large companies.
WashingtonExec: How did you differentiate your company when competing and subsequently becoming a winner of the Eagle II contract?
Kevin Coby: I think we brought together a very good team and we were very focused on the DHS mission. We have a lot of history in supporting other 3 letter agencies and we based our competencies on things that we have done in support of those agencies, looked at what DHS is trying to do with Eagle II and provided a team and a vision to fulfill the requirement. I think that’s what set us apart. We were highly focused on our past history, our partner & teammates as well as, why and how that fits together with the vision and mission of DHS.
WashingtonExec: How would you describe your company’s culture and how do you retain the high potential, critical talents in your organization?
Kevin Coby: We are a mission-driven, customer oriented, employee focused and partnership driven organization. I spent ten years in the Air Force as a mission guy and then I spent additional years at the National Security Agency (NSA) as a mission guy. I built both of my companies focused around satisfying the customer’s needs to fulfill the mission. What I try to focus on as a CEO, is the mission and expectations of the clients as well as the mission and expectation of the employees. Our philosophy towards our customers is to partner and to engage in relationships, to work together in a team environment, to deliver and provide customized solutions for their requirements. Similarly, we apply the same emphasis to our employees. I believe retention of the employees is based on meeting the needs and goals/aspirations of the employees. Their growth expectations, career expectations, and providing robust benefits for them and their families. So my desire is to help them fulfill these… while they help me to fulfill the desire and expectation of the clients. When we are able to do this together…then I believe the company has the right direction.
What we try to do with our employees is to provide them with incentive packages, a career path as well as their contributions to the mission. This allows them the opportunity to compare and assess for themselves the rewards and benefits.
WashingtonExec: Switching gears, what specifically will your company focus on for the Eagle II contract?
Kevin Coby: We won functional category 1 of the Eagle II contract, which is focused around IT. We are an IT integrations company. We do a lot of analytical data type of work, a lot of integration. We have provided support by building systems that help manage and maintain organizational data across the board. We are going to continue to focus on helping large organizations collaborate internally through analytical type data or integration and software development.
WashingtonExec: Do you view today’s “big data” as an evolution of traditional analytics technology or as a disruptive technology?
Kevin Coby: I believe it is a little of both; it is a new concept as well as an enhancement to old model. We can look at an organization’s analytical data and say ‘this is kind of what’s happening in your world and here’s how we can enhance that and build something new for you, or show you how to use that data in a different way or in a different environment’. For example, take an older organization that is still using multiple software tools to get information – we can take that analytical data as well as, any other big data and say ‘let us make that easier for you and put it in some kind of dashboard or viewing scenario for you so you can manipulate the data and make intelligent business decisions’. Thus enhancing the old with the new.
WashingtonExec: In the current federal budget climate, to you see being a niche small business as an advantage?
Kevin Coby: I think that the current environment increases the need for more collaboration between mid-sized and small businesses. Yes, I think being a small businesses does give you a little advantage over the mid or large size companies. Being a small business allows you to be more agile; you can make decisions quickly; you can collaborate with your customers to see how you can do things better and cut rates or cut costs to help bring some value to your customers. I’m not sure that large sized businesses and mid-sized businesses would be able to make those same types of decisions on the fly. Being a small business and having a different overhead structure allows you a better reaction and strategy position at times.
WashingtonExec: What is something that you wished you knew when you first started your own business that you know now?
Kevin Coby: I wish I had known and understood the importance of relationship building and networking. In the beginning I came out of the technical field and built a company, so I was looking for technology to advance and grow the company, versus the relationships and connections with the right people at the right levels. As I have gone through the process a couple of times, I have learned that it’s really based on building the right technologies, the right technology acumen as well as understanding networking, cultivating and maintaining relationships. Having a good relationship is essential within our scope of work, for it allows us to be able to help those customers strategize on how to deal with budgets and so on. Relationship building has been very critical for me.
WashingtonExec: What book do you recommend to individuals either wanting to enter the industry?
Kevin Coby: I’m a big Jack Welch fan, so anything that Jack Welch puts out has helped me for many years. There is another book that I like called, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins by Annette Simmons.