SAIC Named 2018 GovCon Awards Finalist

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Nazzic Keene

Nazzic Keene, SAIC

SAIC 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 greater than $300 million. The winners will be announced at an awards program Nov. 5.

WashingtonExec spoke with Chief Operating Officer Nazzic Keene about the “new” SAIC, the company’s growth plan and the challenges its customers face. 

WashingtonExecSAIC is now five years old. How has SAIC and the culture evolved since the separation?

Keene: If I compare us to the SAIC of old, SAIC today is a much more collaborative organization with a cohesive enterprise strategy versus an organization that operated in a more federated model. Previously, strategies were developed within business units or geographic regions. Now, under the direction of our long-term strategy, Ingenuity 2025, we are marching to the same drumbeat and everyone understands the role they play and what they bring to the company to allow us to fully execute against our strategy.  We are much stronger as an enterprise than we are individually.

We are even more customer-focused and customer-centric than we used to be. As an organization that is directly aligned to our customers, we work in concert with our customers, understanding their challenges and mission and bring market leading solutions to support the delivery and execution of their mission. Additionally, operating as a highly leveraged matrix, our customers have access to the entirety of the SAIC solution set to include many best-in-class commercial offerings to support their mission imperatives.

Our culture today is more enterprise-focused to connect employees more to the company while still supporting our customers’ missions. Sixty-five percent of our workforce sits at a customer site and it is important for our employees to feel connected to SAIC. Culturally, our priorities remain focused on integrity, ethics, mission understanding, empowerment, creativity and performance.

WashingtonExec: What are some attributes of SAIC’s heritage that have remained with the new SAIC?

Keene: As things change, some things stay the same. At our core, SAIC’s value proposition is bringing the best of the best talent to support our customers.  Our heritage is based on being a mission-centric, problem-solving company.

By hiring and retaining the best talent in the industry, we sustain incredibly high customer-satisfaction — this is best demonstrated by our market leading recompete win rates. I’m incredible proud of our people, our strong delivery and great competency that sets us apart from our competitors. This commitment to excellence will always be rooted in SAIC culture.

We are also still focused on bringing the best solutions that are repeatable and proven. Where we’ve solved a problem for one customer, we are seeking to bring the solution to another customer. This enables us to move quickly and be more agile, because we’re not inventing something new every time.

WashingtonExec: What is SAIC’s growth plan for the next three to five years?

Keene: Our priorities are informed by Ingenuity 2025. Fundamentally, we will continue to protect our current customer base, expand our solution offerings to those customers, and grow into new customers. Our strategy is to drive growth by leveraging our proven, repeatable solutions, so that we can respond to our customers’ need for more rapid solution deployment. As our customers are faced with their mission priorities in readiness and modernization, SAIC’s brings market leading services and solutions in several key areas to include: IT modernization; system sustainment; modeling & simulation and training.

Also, as our customers deal with the increasing risks associated with cybersecurity we have a responsibility and an opportunity to bring innovative, strong, proven, market-leading solutions to our customers. We know these risks will only grow in complexity over these next five years, so SAIC is committed to continuous investment and innovation in our solutions and in the integration of market-leading commercial solutions to this challenge.

Lastly, we will continue to diversify and strengthen our portfolio to better serve our customers. Our recent announcement of our intent to acquire Engility allows us to strengthen our portfolio in space, intelligence community, and federal agencies, consistent with strategy. As a newly combined company, we will have greater talent and technology based solutions to better serve our customers’ missions. Engility is a great example of how acquisitions align with our strategy and although SAIC does not aspire to be a high-volume acquirer, we will continue to pursue strategic acquisitions when it complements our strategy.

WashingtonExec: What are the biggest challenges facing SAIC’s customers?

Keene: Another challenge that we all face is access to the talent, and certainly those with specialized skills and security clearances. However, with challenges, there’s also a lot of opportunity. We use this as a “call to action” to make sure that we have a company that attracts the best talent and employs the latest technologies so that we are fostering innovation and creating a career destination for employees.

As an example, following the separation, we realized that we needed to hire more interns and recent college graduates because we wanted to infuse new thinking and diversify our organization to enhance the culture with new ideas and new energy. We are partnering with a lot of local communities and colleges. We are also sponsoring hackathons across the country at 30 different colleges with the goal of promoting SAIC as a career destination.

Within our organization, we have stood up Business Resource Groups. These groups provide opportunities for networking, mentoring, leadership development, and knowledge sharing. Although each BRG has a specific focus, all employees are invited to participate.

We are always looking at ways to create more opportunities for our workforce by being flexible on job location and virtual work, while also enabling them to work for a variety of customers if they choose.

WashingtonExec: What is top of mind for SAIC right now?

Keene: For us, continuing to remain agile and nimble is always imperative. We have a 50-year-old brand, but we aren’t afraid to change or adjust our thinking. We are always looking for ways to remain current and align ourselves with industry-leading companies to expand our services and offerings. Our partner ecosystem enables us to effectively utilize evolving technologies to bring value to our customers. Our primary objective for us is to solve our customers’ problems, and hopefully even their most difficult problems.

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