Dev Technology Group is among the finalists for the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Professional Services Council’s annual Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards in the contractor of the year category for companies between $25 million and $75 million. The winners will be announced at an awards program Nov. 5.
WashingtonExec spoke with CEO Kendall Holbrook about how Dev Technology is supporting women in IT, giving back to the community and making strides as a business.
WashingtonExec: How has your business been able to grow as the federal market contracts?
Holbrook: In 2016, we established our Dev 2020 corporate objectives, which includes becoming a $75 million company by the end of 2020. We are fortunate that our business base is heavily aligned to the Department of Homeland Security and federal law enforcement agencies, which has successfully weathered the storm of do more with less. Also, the majority of our projects directly support our clients’ missions. The systems we support are used by agents and officers in the field and are essential for supporting both mission and business processes. Over the past five years, we have grown over 200 percent, putting us on track to meet our Dev 2020 goal.
WashingtonExec: Given today’s government contracting marketplace, how has your organization’s approach to customers, employees and future customers changed?
Holbrook: Dev Technology was designed to be a customer and employee-centric organization. Our founders felt that by addressing the needs of our clients and employees, our organization would grow organically. This outlook exhibits our core values of integrity, respect and collaboration, and has enabled us to consistently maintain our approach to our customers and employees for the past 20 years.
What is changing is not our approach, but the types of customers we support and the employees we seek out. As we have grown, we have expanded the types of clients that we are able to support including Department of State, Department of Defense, and we continue to strategically look at specific civilian agencies.
For our employees, our approach remains the same, but we are starting to expand our view on where we find them. We are beginning to recruit students directly from college, and we have established a formal technical development program to help them learn the skills they need to be successful at Dev Technology and throughout their careers. We have also started seeking out individuals who are in a cycle of changing their career path through technical boot camp programs or other avenues, and we are participating in the George Mason University Patriot Pipeline Internship program through the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce; our first intern from this program recently started.
WashingtonExec: How does your organization encourage employee engagement?
Holbrook: With offices in D.C., Reston, New Jersey and several remote employees, we actively work to engage team members across our locations. For example, we recently celebrated the fiscal new year with our employees by hosting breakfast at each of our offices. For remote team members who were not able to attend, we included them by providing a gift certificate for their own breakfast. We hold all-staff meetings three times a year and hold an annual company-wide party. Throughout the year, we hold fun events like kickball, hack-a-thons, spirit week and most recently a trivia night.
We also have our Dev University that is actively working to engage our team members across our locations in technical discussions and provide additional learning opportunities. Through in-person sessions, video chat and live recordings, this will help our smaller offices, individuals on client sites and remote employees better connect to our corporate resources and subject matter experts across the company.
In addition to Dev University, we also launch a Center of Excellence for program and project managers as well as one for deputy PMs and team leads. These COEs provide both an educational outlet and a discussion forum for boots on the ground leaders who directly support our clients and employees.
One last program to highlight is our mentorship program. We are in the third year of this program that we started based on an employee’s suggestion. We match any employee with a mentor that is selected and trained. The mentorship program requires both parties to agree to work together and documents their intent in an agreement that is maintained and monitored by HR. Mentorship pairs meet regularly to work through their objectives, they also participate in quarterly all mentorship events where all pairs are invited.
WashingtonExec: How is your business involved in the community?
Holbrook: Employees donated time on a Monday to help the U.S. Post Office Stamp Out Hunger.
Employees and their families collected food and assembled meal bags for children to take home as part of the Food for Others Power Pack Program.
We also have a “Fun Patrol” that organizes opportunities for employees to get involved in the community. This includes our annual charity drive, various volunteer events, charity fun runs and walks, and food and clothing drives. The Fun Patrol makes it easy for employees to get involved and give back to the community. In this way, we are able to recruit more support for our community through encouraging a culture of involvement.
WashingtonExec: Is your business involved in cultivating our local pipeline of young STEM professionals?
Holbrook: Judging the Cornerstones Invention Convention to inspire interest in STEM for Northern Virginia children.
We also held our first Bring your Child to Work Day this year. We had about 20 children visit our office, and we spent the day with them learning about 3D printing, biometrics, the digital transcription process, and we had them build a city using agile development practices.
WashingtonExec: How does your business support women in IT?
Holbrook: I have always made it a point to identify, foster, mentor and encourage women in IT. This year, we officially started a group for women in technology at Dev Technology. This group will coordinate a variety of activities directed towards professional growth and support of women at the company. The group is open to all women working at Dev Technology and provides a community of women who want to support each other in the workplace. The group both participates in company sponsored events and activities as well as participates in other outside activities geared at the development of women within the IT industry.
WashingtonExec: How has your organization changed over the past year and what makes you optimistic about winning GovCon Awards in your category this year?
Holbrook: Over the past year, Dev Technology has had a variety of positive changes that make us optimistic about winning our category this year. As mentioned previously, we had a change in our organization to help us expand and grow. We also added to our corporate qualifications, such as our ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013, illustrating that we have proven and repeatable processes to implement quality solutions for our clients.
We have also been named one of 2018’s fastest-growing companies by the Washington Business Journal, and we achieved our fifth year as a Top Workplace as ranked by The Washington Post. Few companies in the area have achieved this award all five years it has been awarded. With the recent growth we have experienced, this was an important and significant accomplishment for us. Dev Technology was also recently awarded the CARE Award by Northern Virginia Family Services for our community impact, outstanding employee engagement and culture, and progressive family-friendly policies.