Yvonne Vervaet sits as senior vice president of growth and capability at ManTech International — leading her team with an emphasis on building relationships and a people-first approach proven to retain, sustain and motivate talent.
Throughout her career, Vervaet has served as vice president of BD for SpecTacl (later acquired by BAE Systems) and as senior vice president for BD at Strategic Intelligence Group before landing at ManTech in 2013, where she’s also served as chief growth officer.
Vervaet joined the WashingtonExec BD Leadership Council as a member in 2017 and was named chair of the council in January. And while she has been attending BD council events since she joined, she said she’s thrilled to now be leading it — and is honored to be handed the baton from her predecessor and “icon in industry,” Ravi Dankanikote, senior vice president of business development for CACI.
“When I engage with a new member of WashingtonExec, the first thing I tell them is, ‘this forum is so meaningful,’” she said. “The format and form of this council is so valuable for your company in terms of the information that you will get.”
The council meets with federal executives in intimate, nonattribution discussions to exchange best practices relevant to business development, identify mission challenges and discuss what is needed from the private sector.
One of the areas Vervaet is focusing on now in the council is emerging requirements on supply chain.
“It’s my job to get those speakers that we need now that are going to impact our stuff in 2020,” she added.
She’s also taking time to have lunch and coffee one-on-one with council members to build a relationship at an individual level. And in terms of events, she wants to expand to out-of-the-box ideas — along with lunches with a specific government speaker, Vervaet wants to forge relationships within the group through more casual weekend outings.
“I think that breaking down those barriers and building those relationships will just help our group be so much more effective,” she said.
This is part of her bigger plan for the council: to bring more creative ways the group members can interact with each other. While she loves the WashingtonExec council structure, she finds the business development community doesn’t always share information in certain settings — simply because of the nature of its business.
“I’m trying to think of new and creative ways that we can engage with the council to foster that information sharing,” she explained.
And being an agent for increased information sharing is part of Vervaet’s mission. She’s seen a shift in the last five to 10 years in the business development industry. Twenty or so years ago, business developers in the government contracting market space held on to information to maximize their company’s benefit. Vervaet is finding that now, people realize the more information shared, the more organizations and customers benefit.
“I want to be viewed as a leader that helps continue to foster information sharing for the greater good of the whole community,” Vervaet said. She hopes council members benefit from a sense of transparency and information sharing in the current business development environment.
“I’m hoping that as the council lead, I can show people they can share that information, and it benefits us all,” she said.
Vervaet also plans to bring her leadership style to the council, one she refers to as a leader of people; valuing those who work for her, and those she works with.
“I take a lot of time to understand each person’s strengths and non-strengths and figure out a way to put them together to get the maximum results from that group of unique people,” she said, adding that she plans to bring this methodology to the council.
And Vervaet‘s confident in her leadership, too. At ManTech, Vervaet runs a staff of 70 people, and has a 97% retention rate among her employees — the result of a “labor of love” of finding the right group of exceptionally high-performers.
Ultimately, Vervaet plans to bring her years of business development experience, passion for information sharing and importance on relationship building to lead and support her fellow industry executives.