Meet 2017 GovCon Award Finalist Julian Setian of SOSi

Julian Setian, SOSi

The winners of the 15th annual GovCon Awards Gala will be announced Nov. 1, but until then, WashingtonExec continues to feature some of the nominees. 

SOS International, for example, is nominated for Contractor of the Year ($75 million to $300 million) and President and CEO Julian Setian is up for the  Executive of the Year Award ($75 million to $300 million).

“Julian and his SOSi team has established a global footprint and brand synonymous with excellence,” said KippsDesanto’s Marc Marlin, one of the awards sponsors. “The firm’s growth, but more importantly, ability to achieve success on larger and more complex programs worldwide is spectacular. Couple this operational excellence with their M&A efforts and the sky is the limit for SOSi.  SOSi has become a top-notch franchise in the mid-market and this is only the beginning. Congrats to Julian and the SOSi team on this well-deserved recognition.”

WashingtonExec spoke with Setian about the importance of community engagement and strategies for success and growth in the industry.

WashingtonExec: How is your company keeping up with the constant change in technologies?

Julian Setian: Technology is rapidly evolving to play a central role in just about everything that we do. It’s only been five years, however, when the Defense Department abandoned the BlackBerry and moved to more advanced smartphone technologies. As a U.S. government contractor, it takes concerted time, energy, resources and focus to stay ahead of the latest technology advances, when our primary customers have trouble themselves adopting them. Getting ahead of our customers can actually result in a range of compliance and compatibility challenges.

That said, the entire defense and national security community is currently undergoing a massive technology transformation aimed at protecting networks and data that is already having a profound effect on the industry. The opportunities it creates will almost guarantee that any company that fails to adapt and keep pace will be left by the wayside.

The key is to identify and hire technology professionals with extensive experience outside the government and outside of our industry — which can be difficult in the greater Washington region — and to effectively and convincingly communicate to our corporate leadership that the adoption and integration of new technology into our day-to-day business is a critical strategic component of our long-term success. I’m not going to say that we’re where we’d like to be, but we’re getting better by the day.

WashingtonExec: Why is giving back to the community important to your company?

Julian Setian: At SOSi, we feel strongly that it is our civic duty to give back to the communities that we serve. We want people to know that we’re not just a business looking to make a profit; we’re a community partner that invests in the institutions that often get taken for granted.

Offering creative volunteering opportunities to our employees also helps us recruit and retain high-quality talent. And aggressively supporting organizations that are aligned with our customers and the actual communities where we live and work signals to everyone around us that we plan to be a positive force for many years to come.

Most importantly, however, giving back to the community is emotionally empowering. It just makes us feel good.

WashingtonExec: What has been the biggest inspiration to your business strategy and success?

Julian Setian: On my worst days, I just stop and think about the career aspirations and learning objectives we help people fill, and the families we help support. When I stop and consider for a moment that in the 28 years since my mother founded SOSi, we have employed literally thousands of people, it excites and inspires me beyond words.  The rest is blocking and tackling.

WashingtonExec: You’ve already achieved approximately 15 percent growth in 2017, do you expect that number to rise as the year continues?

Julian Setian: We’re now projecting over 25 percent growth in 2017.  We certainly have our fair share of organizational challenges, but we’ve managed to grow and prosper regardless.

WashingtonExec: How do you define innovation? Where do you look for it?

Julian Setian: Innovation is an overused term, and I don’t care for it much. Everyone is seeking or offering “innovation” these days.  I prefer “vicissitude”… and people who know how to spell it.

WashingtonExec: What is something most people don’t know about you?

Julian Setian: I don’t know how to use Excel and have never built a spreadsheet in my life.


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