When it comes to high achievers in the government contracting space, it’s safe to add Rahul Pandhi, president of CollabraLink Technologies, to the list. Under Pandhi’s leadership, the fast-growing 8(a) technology consultancy was named a finalist for this year’s GovCon Contractor of the Year award in the $25 million in sales category.
Each year, the Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards — which stand as the industry’s highest honor — give high praise to businesses like CollabraLink that make their mark on the government contracting field. So how has Pandhi managed to guide the company, since its inception in 2003, toward successful contributions in the federal space? Read on to find out.
WashingtonExec: What’s your organization’s plan for growth over the next three to five years?
Pandhi: We are doubling down in investments in key areas over the next six to 12 months. We plan to continue to grow out our business development, proposal and programmatic capabilities. We’re doing that in order to drive momentum as we continue to mature. The hope is to rocket-ship out the small business realm and into the full and open arena.
WashingtonExec: How are you able to grow as the federal market contracts?
Pandhi: I still see opportunity out there, even as the federal market contracts. Firms like ours that are capability-driven can still grow and achieve targets because we focus on the things we do well and not just get distracted by as we go through the process. That allows us to continue with our growth. Being capability driven also allows us not to dive so hard on pricing and rates.
WashingtonExec: What are the fastest-growing components of your business?
Pandhi: We continue to see growth in the arena of agile engineering, cybersecurity and case management.
WashingtonExec: What’s been your largest accomplishment over the last 12 to 18 months?
Pandhi: One of the biggest accomplishments has been a major contract win in July of this year with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Agency. It’s in particular a major accomplishment because it is a very sizable contract, from a revenue perspective but more so from the perspective that we hadn’t had prime contract work at NOAA previously and this was our big way to enter. In addition, we’ve really done a good job of standing up our infrastructure and back office and that has been a major factor in our growth as well.
WashingtonExec: How has CollabraLink’s approach to customers, employees and future customers changed?
Pandhi: We’ve always tried to be very customer-focused and customer-driven. That hasn’t changed. But we have had to be cognizant of how competitive the marketplace is today and the effect that has on how you bid, which deals you bid and which ones you decide to sit out. So our approach to bidding has certainly changed. With our employees — we differentiate ourselves through team building and making sure that people feel like they are a part of something special. I don’t think that is something we’ve changed; we just focus on that knowing that in this market having the right people and the right talent is a premium and that’s what sets us apart.
WashingtonExec: What challenges do you predict CollabraLink will face over the next five years?
Pandhi: I think over the next five years the challenge will be how you transition from being a small business to having to bid against medium and large businesses. We have a little bit of time to make sure that we are ready for that evolution and that we are prepared to stand on our own two feet in that business realm.
WashingtonExec: Do you see large M&A transactions continuing into the future?
Pandhi: There is a lot of consolidation that is happening in the large business space. In the small business realm it seems to have slowed down a little bit. It seems cyclical and every few years, there is a flurry of activity and then it slows down and then it picks back up again. I think that the cyclical nature of it will continue.
WashingtonExec: How does CollabraLink maintain engagement with all levels of employees? Have millennials entering the workforce changed your company’s strategic plans or corporate policies? If so, how?
Pandhi: We are very active with our employee community ensuring that we’re doing the right things from a culture building perspective and having folks bought into who we are and what we are doing. In terms of millennials — we’re really forward thinking about different working preferences and styles. That’s not just a millennials thing it’s a shifting mindset across the entire American workforce. As an example, we’re quite forward-thinking as it relates to our working moms and ensuring that they have the flexibility necessary to do the things they need to do for their families as well as be productive members of the CollabraLink workforce.
WashingtonExec: How’s your business involved in the community in terms of corporate citizenship?
Pandhi: We do a quarterly sponsored event. It is employee-sponsored so we have our employees submit ideas for community service activities and then whosever idea is chosen, organizes and leads the event. It’s been fantastic. The employees feel more involved and engaged in something that’s their idea. It’s been really, really good.