With the gala coming up this week, nominees for the Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards exhibit the top individuals and businesses in the region. Among the nominees for Contractor of the Year ($25 million to $75 million) is Customer Value Partners.
WashingtonExec spoke with CEO Anirudh Kulkarni about the company’s core values, future opportunities and the importance of community service.
WashingtonExec: What sets your company apart from your competitors?
Anirudh Kulkarni: We operate in an extremely competitive market, with differences in services and approaches getting smaller and smaller. We do spend a significant amount of budget on internal research and development on solution accelerators that allow us to deliver faster and more innovatively.
However, we believe our true differentiator is the unique and engaged focus on culture and values. CVP’s culture is based on four core values: (1) intense client focus, (2) individual responsibility and growth, (3) uncompromising integrity and (4) mutual respect. The values aren’t mere words; they are guiding principles each CVP employee embodies in how they conduct business with clients and with each other.
Year after year, our employees tell us, through new hire check-ins, our annual engagement surveys and stay interviews, and even during exit interviews, that the unique and distinguishing attribute that endears them to the firm is our unrelenting focus on building a great firm built on a rock-hard foundation of client service, teamwork and integrity.
WashingtonExec: How does CVP maintain its practice of its “three core values: mutual respect, individual responsibility and accountability, and an uncompromising focus on ethical behavior”?
Anirudh Kulkarni: CVP is growing and as we approach a staff of 300, it is supercritical that our culture, established by me and fostered by leadership is embraced by all staff, both as a whole and individually. We believe and enforce the idea that each employee is herself a champion of CVP’s culture. From recruiting to project work, operations to technology, development to execution, CVP is able to maintain and grow the culture through its employees.
Everyone is part of the team, and everyone is willing to help. Because of this, there is never any shortage of support, and help is only a team member away. We deliver culture and values training for new hires demonstrating in a very direct way our commitment to walking the talk Through Team Talk Tours, a program where CVP executives meet monthly with groups of employees, we share stories from our history and from around the company that reinforce our core values.
WashingtonExec: In a 2016 article for FedHealthIT, you said one of the guiding principles/lessons learned to create CVP was to “be confident and show leadership.” What are some ways you show said leadership to your team?
Anirudh Kulkarni: CVP’s senior managers and myself lead by example. I believe great ideas can come from all levels of the organization and as a result is open to all input from all employees, encouraging engagement and “buy in” from all. The senior team and I are extremely accessible, very visible and very hands-on.
This telegraphs a picture of a very engaged leadership team and at a practical level, results in an environment where people directly experience leadership and company values from the senior most members of the firm. This in turn reinforces the idea that no one is above or below making a contribution. Employees learn directly from these behaviors and experience leadership by example.
WashingtonExec: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for growth in upcoming years?
Anirudh Kulkarni: The markets we have chosen — health care, national security and the U.S. public sector — each continue to experience significant disruption. In particular, health care, at nearly 17 percent of U.S. GDP, is still undergrowing significant shifts — in research, in health care quality, in how we finance it and how we ensure integrity.
Rapid evolution in the quality of machine learning and analytics are driving new abilities to defend and protect the homeland — both in the material realm as well as the cyber realm. The U.S. public sector now has so many new tools to reduce operational costs through innovative digital solutions delivered in secure cloud delivery models. We are in all the right service areas and markets, and anticipate growth across all areas of the firm.
WashingtonExec: What prompted the creation of CVP Cares? Why such a focus on education, health care and human services?
Anirudh Kulkarni: While other companies may be “prompted” to create a public service initiative, CVP has been doing it since day one. Public service has always been a part of the CVP’s “corporate DNA” and a natural result of our culture. It started when the company was founded — with leadership and family deeply involved in public and community outreach which continues to this day. CVP has found through recruiting that those individuals that gravitate toward CVP’s culture also believe strongly in public service.
Our focus on education, health care and human services stems from a core belief that people operate at their optimum when the basics are taken care of. We give our employees a voice in selecting charities through our annual charity nomination drive each November. We are proud of CVP’s diversity and the causes we support reflect this diversity. We give back to the community through CVP Cares initiatives. These include collection drives for books, school supplies, food and toys.
We also volunteer with local organizations. We take part in charity walks and runs, and donation-matching and giving events, such as Do More 24 and Giving Tuesday. The CVP Cares program engages our associates in giving back to our local communities and allows associates to play an active role in selecting which organizations we support. ‘
CVP Cares initiatives include donation-matching drives, book and school supply drives, food drives, toy drives, volunteering with local organizations, charity walks/runs, giving events and more. CVP supports American Cancer Society, ASHA for Women, Camp Agawam, Cell Phones for Soldiers, and Food and Friends, among others. Not only does CVP provide direct corporate support to organizations and the community, but each regular, full-time associate receives 8 hours of paid time each year for team volunteer activities.