In its first event of the year, Dr. John Hillen shared with the WashingtonExec Rising Stars of GovCon Committee the importance of defining your own leadership style in the rapidly evolving GovCon industry and managing your own career.
Hillen, Executive in Residence at George Mason University’s School of Business and former President & CEO of Sotera Defense Solutions, presented a historical overview of the federal contracting industry of the ’80s, ’90s, 2000s and today. The govcon sector of the ’80s is vastly different from the GovCon sector that we have today. Lisa Mundt of AOC Key Solutions and member of the Rising Stars group introduced Hillen and gave her thoughts on the presentation.
“I really appreciated Dr. Hillen’s vital insight into the history of the GovCon market. As a member of this space, I believe you can’t know where you’re going until you truly understand where you’ve been. I also found his illustration of a career timeline to be invaluable to my future professional growth. By being able to visualize the juxtaposition of time spent on the ‘Tactical & Technical’ against the ‘Strategic & Interpersonal’ I could better understand how one’s roles and responsibilities shift as you climb the corporate ladder,” Mundt said.
Hillen also said that in order to find success in today’s government contracting world, you must have sophisticated knowledge of the federal contractor industry, rather than just an understanding procurement policy and the needs of your direct customer. There is also a need for junior employees to always keep up with the quickly changing capital market and to understand how the decisions made at the top of the federal government affects them and their organization.
In addition to having in-depth knowledge of the macro national economy, Hillen encouraged the group members to always think about ways to diversify his or her career.
“Everyone should try business development, everyone should try operations, everyone should be billable and everyone should understand financial statements and corporate development,” Hillen told the group.
It is in the diversification of one’s career that he or she is able to find the pieces to develop a unique leadership style that not only has the necessary technical skills, but also interpersonal skills. Additionally, it enables us to purposely build a professional network.
By the end of the presentation, Hillen had given the Rising Stars a clear picture that the industry of tomorrow is simply not the same as it was in the past. That in order to find success, one must guide his or her career towards a more diversified background and develop a leadership style that works best for you.