The majority of people in Los Angeles consider the entertainment industry a family business. It is a sector that has seen children follow in the paths of their parents time and time again, through multiple generations. While these Hollywood family trees are globally recognizable, I have seen similar patterns occurring in government contracting industry within the broader D.C. area. Since the 1980s, there has been a pattern of the children of government contracting titans also joining the broad and vast industry.
My first job out of college was working for my father at his government services company, named IBSI. At 22 years old I was the assistant to the Project Manager of a high profile call center contract for the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service. I learned a lot about the business of federal contracting over my eight years. Working for my father in government contracting inspired me to serve those young adults who have moved into the same industry as their parents. Those with family relations to industry titans don’t necessarily always want their parents advice or help. My idea was to establish the first peer-to-peer network for the new generation of government contractors.
On April 26, 2011, I launched WashingtonExec. Over the past 5 years I have often described my life as a professional eater. Over breakfast and lunch, I would always ask guests about their children. Many executives shared with me that their daughter or son were also working in the government contracting business as a young professional. This gave me the idea to host an informal meet-and-greet in August 2014 at The McLean Hilton with about 20 folks. When I was a young professional I wanted to join a leadership group to discuss with my peers the special opportunities and challenges of having a parent in the business. Now that I am older, I used WashingtonExec’s position in the GovCon industry to create a one-of-a-kind “Meet the Parents” event where the children of government contractors can create their own family networks.
WashingtonExec’s first Rising Stars of GovCon event was a great success; we later on approached Jonathan Moneymaker, whose dad worked at a senior level in the govcon business, to serve as Founding Chairman. I describe today’s leadership group as a mini-MBA program without the case studies. Each Rising Star is assigned a mentor to assist in their personal and professional growth. We meet 4 to 5 times a year over dinner with an outside keynote speaker. Past speakers have included Sid Fuchs and John Hillen.
Last month WashingtonExec hosted its first annual “Meet the Parents” event. We invited our next generation professionals members from the Rising Stars of GovcCon group to invite their mom/dad to attend. The event was hosted at the office of Cooley and sponsored by Pagnato Karp. Cooley is a go-to law firm for growing companies in the DC region and across the globe. They represent emerging and established companies in commercial and government markets. Katherine Ferguson of Cooley assisted in making this event possible.
The 2016 Chairperson for the Rising Stars of GovCon Committee, Lisa Shea Mundt of AOC Key Solutions, attended the event with her father.
“As a Millennial in the Government Contracting industry, I’m thrilled that a space like this exists to provide a forum for young professionals to learn and grow. As members, we are so fortunate to be privy to this unique mixture of industry-leader speaking engagements as well as less formal meet-and-greets. Through this unprecedented educational and social combination I feel like I’ve not only learned about the members’ professional aspirations, but also the many facets of their humanity. The Rising Stars provides a sense of camaraderie in an otherwise competitive domain. Although you can feel the collective hunger and drive humming at the events, it’s really the generosity and the willingness to further the careers of others that makes this group truly special.”
In the end, I believe that the connections made by the participants of the Rising Stars of GovCon Committee will prove to be invaluable to the professional development of these new-comers and will result in this intimate network attaining the level of success seen in their parent’s careers.