Q&A with 2016 GovCon Award Finalist Christian Marrone, VP of External Affairs and Chief of Staff of CSRA


Christian Marrone, CSRA

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 Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Professional Services Council have unveiled the finalists for the 14th Annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards, the premier awards event for the Washington area government contracting community. The winners will be named at a Nov. 1 gala dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner.

WashingtonExec talked with one of the finalists, Christian Marrone, vice president of external affairs and chief of staff of CSRA, to get his take on the marketplace and his company’s near- and long-term future, among other issues.

WashingtonExec: What was your organization’s largest accomplishment in the last 12-18 months?

Christian Marrone: Our biggest and most impactful achievement of the last 12 months has to be the successful spin from Computer Science Corporation and merger with SRA that created the company on Nov. 30, 2015. That day was the culmination of a great deal of hard work and focus of all of our people and teams that resulted in the launch of one of the largest providers of next-generation IT solutions and professional services to the U.S. government.

In our first year as a new, publicly traded company, we’re proud of how our brilliant teams have responded to the current and future needs of our customers, and how we’ve maintained a focus on forging innovative partnerships, earning highly coveted industry certifications, such as FedRAMP FISMA High Baseline accreditation, and made some real progress on the development of our Integrated Technology Center in Bossier City, Louisiana.

WashingtonExec: Given today’s government contracting marketplace, how has your organization’s approach to customers, employees and future customers changed?

Christian Marrone: When CSRA was formed, we chose to focus purely on the U.S. public sector and we’ve been steadfast in our approach. We have a deep passion for serving the government, understanding their missions and delivering next-gen IT solutions and professional services to solve their most challenging issues. As we move forward, we’re focusing more and more on helping lead our customers to a digital future (regardless of where they are on that journey today).

That means re-thinking our approach to retaining and recruiting the best people, partnering with the most innovative and agile companies to bring outstanding technologies to solve customer challenges, and developing a mindset that drives next-generation thinking.

WashingtonExec: How does your organization maintain engagement with all levels of employees?

Christian Marrone: Staying connected and engaging with employees is critically important, and it’s one of the biggest challenges federal IT contractors face because often the bulk of the workforce is located on customer premises. At CSRA, we’re constantly trying to find ways to effectively communicate with employees, and seek their thoughts and opinions. We leverage a range of tactics to enable a dialogue with our teams from interactive quarterly town hall meetings, to small group discussions, the use of internal social media tools and beyond.

We’ve also leveraged surveys to seek opinions and feedback on things like our strategy, workplace and culture. One of the most effective ways we’ve found to get employees involved is through our corporate responsibility program – and we invite you to check out our social media pages to see the kinds of things we’re doing.

It’s also critical that we maintain a strong dialogue with potential employees. We recently embarked on a campaign to attract millennials to CSRA. Many college graduates find the allure of working for large companies in Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin and elsewhere hard to resist. A big part of our strategy is to continue shaping CSRA into a place where people want to come and work, whether they are right out of college or looking to make a mid-career transition.

WashingtonExec: How is your business involved in the community?

Christian Marrone: CSRA is a leader in corporate responsibility and community engagement – we were honored to be recognized as one of Greater Washington’s leading corporate supporters of area nonprofits, by the Washington Business Journal recently.

As a company, we’ve invested time and resources in supporting various local charitable organizations through the establishment of CSRA Cares, which supports the communities in which our employees live and work, and maximizes the collective impact of their corporate and employee contributions and volunteer efforts.

CSRA Cares is an enterprisewide endeavor that focuses on their three core charity areas – STEM education, veteran and health communities. This past year, 218 SRA International, Inc. (a CSRA company) employees volunteered more than 17,000 hours across more than 240 diverse organizations. The company also recently donated $10,000 to the Baton Rouge Foundation to help with local flood relief efforts.

CSRA recognizes employees who have contributed more than 50 volunteer hours through our Community Service Recognition program. We recently recognized more than 60 employees who served their communities. Through financial support and employee volunteerism, we have made a significant impact on the mission and goals of hundreds of charities that are consistent with CSRA’s mission and values.

WashingtonExec: What would you say are the top one or two leadership qualities necessary to be a great leader?

Christian Marrone: Effective leaders are committed and honest. Nothing encourages the workforce more than a leader that is committed to the mission of the company. You can’t expect the workforce to be passionate about the work they do if their leader isn’t. It starts at the top.

Honesty is another must-have quality. Every business has seasons of triumph and challenge. Particularly through the challenging times, employees need a leader who’s transparent and honest about the road ahead. Obviously, it’s never easy to share difficult news, but honesty is always the best policy. It creates trust and a culture that’s open.

Related: USAF Awards Contract to CSRA for Logistics Integration, Weapon Systems Logistics Network Support


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