Haywood Talcove has always been passionate about stopping the exploitation of children, and when given the opportunity to be involved professionally to do so, he took it. Today, it’s what much of his organization helps prevent.
Talcove is CEO of the Government group at LexisNexis Risk Solutions and of the company’s separate subsidiary, LexisNexis Special Services, Inc. He grew up in Massachusetts, and for more than 30 years, his father taught special education and worked a second job at Boston Logan International Airport. His mother was a secretary at a hospital.
Talcove graduated from the University of Maine, receiving his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration.
And during his last spring break before graduating with his master’s degree, Talcove’s father took him out to dinner — something that made every hair on the back of his neck stand up, because “Dad just didn’t take you out to dinner,” Talcove joked.
“He says, ‘your mother and I spoke, and we know exactly what you’re going to get for your graduation,’” Talcove said, hoping at the time it was a car or a trip to Europe.
Instead, it was a trip to Filene’s Department Store in Boston, a big discount store, to get two suits, five shirts and a pair of shoes. But that was just his first present; the second was a U-Haul truck to move out.
“I never quite knew what I wanted to be, I’ve always done things that I really liked, I’ve always been with companies where I really appreciate the mission, the people and what they do,” Talcove said. “And LexisNexis Risk Solutions is one of those companies.”
He’s been with LexisNexis Risk Solutions since March 2008. Prior, Talcove was vice president of public sector for Juniper Networks from 2003–2008 and director of Enterasys Networks/Cabletron from 1996-2003.
And it was Cabletron that truly gave him his start.
His Big Break
Cabletron founder and former New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson hired Talcove and gave him the opportunity he needed to jumpstart his career.
“I still, to this day, don’t know why Craig hired me,” Talcove joked. “He gave a young kid a chance.”
Talcove was with the manufacturer of networking computer equipment all the way through and beyond the initial public offering of one of its subsidiaries, Enterasys Networks, in 2001. And through most of those years, Talcove got to work closely with Benson. He described Benson as a great businessperson, philanthropist and mentor. Talcove even worked on Benson’s gubernatorial campaign, as he was governor from 2003–2005.
“That really was my springboard,” Talcove said. “I started at the lowest possible level and learned everything from him.”
“Craig focused on exceeding customer expectations and it wasn’t unusual for him to be on the phone talking to customers or traveling with teams as we stayed at hotels such as Best Western,” Talcove added. “He walked the walk and led by example.”
Benson also taught Talcove valuable — and tough — workplace lessons. He always made his employees wear a sports coat, slacks and a tie every day, and wouldn’t allow them to fly during business hours.
“My parents loved him before they even met! I learned hard work, focus and passion from Craig,” Talcove said. “Craig gave me a huge opportunity. I think everyone’s career needs that.”
And as Talcove has gotten older, he’s done the same for younger professionals by giving them opportunities throughout the organization.
After Cabletron, he worked at Juniper Networks before snagging an opportunity at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
“And it’s just been an amazing experience, every year has been different, every challenge has been different, it’s been a great team,” Talcove said. “We’ve grown tremendously over the past 11 years — it’s just been rewarding helping our government partners catch bad people, stop fraud and enable digital government.”
And at the end of the day, Talcove attributes ending up where he is professionally to someone giving him the breaks he needed as a young adult.
Stop Fraud and Catch Bad People
LexisNexis Risk Solutions provides services to state, local, federal, civilian agencies and the defense community. The company has solutions that help public safety and law enforcement, tax and regulatory, and health and human service agencies meet their missions. And for Talcove, it’s the tools, technology and data insights the company provides that leads to the important, meaningful outcomes that make it all worthwhile.
The organization helps prevent fraud and reduce identity-based risk in government assistance programs; detect and combat tax fraud; generate crime patterns and actionable information for investigative leads; and more.
Essentially, LexisNexis Risk Solutions “helps stop fraud and catch bad people,” as Talcove put it. And that’s the kind of work and missions that excite him.
This year, Talcove transformed the business from location services to one focused on digital identity to prevent fraud and allow citizens faster access to services. Agencies have immediate access to thousands of data sources and billions of relationships essential to fueling identity analytics and facilitating the sharing of valuable information between agencies and across the country to verify both physical and digital identity.
“We’re finding children that are missing, we’re finding international fraud rings that are stealing from social service agencies and revenue departments, we’re making sure that people who need a benefit get it — that’s what we do every day,” Talcove said.
In fact, LexisNexis Risk Solutions invites speakers to its town halls to demonstrate first-hand the outcomes of its work, like Alicia Kozakiewicz from Pennsylvania, who went missing in 2002 when she was 13 years old.
Kozakiewicz was kidnapped outside her Pittsburgh home after having been lured by an internet predator. The 38-year-old man took Kozakiewicz to his Herndon, Virginia, home where she was held captive in his basement, assaulted and livestreamed.
An online informant who saw the livestream video tipped off the FBI, and law enforcement was able to digitally track, locate and free Kozakiewicz.
“The FBI used our technology to rescue her,” Talcove said.
Kozakiewicz now raises awareness about online predators, abduction and child exploitation, and she spoke to the LexisNexis Risk Solutions team about her experience and the technology that saved her life.
“When you walk around the office, you’ll see many former government employees here. They want to continue to serve and they really love our mission and what we do,” Talcove said.
Extending the Mission
Talcove is involved in several boards and organizations outside of work, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the DEA Educational Foundation and the Cal Ripken Senior Foundation. But being involved with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is something he cares deeply about. Talcove has been a board member since 2013, because “the work they do is absolutely amazing,” he said. Plus, it’s a cause he’s been passionate about since he was a child.
“When kids go missing, NCMEC is the place that law enforcement, parents and others go,” Talcove said. The center also proactively educates parents on how to keep their kids safe in a changing online and threat environment.
“NCMEC is a wonderful organization that does just amazing things — it’s a group of passionate, dedicated people,” Talcove added.
So, when the opportunity to be involved with LexisNexis Risk Solutions, an organization related to fighting this crime, presented itself in 2008, Talcove was in a position to help, and he jumped right in.
And LexisNexis Risk Solutions donates its services to NCMEC at no cost to help it fulfill its mission.
“One thing that I believe strongly about is in giving back. I think you have to, I think it’s important,” Talcove said.
LexisNexis Risk Solutions has a longstanding tradition of giving back to the community with its LexisNexis Cares program. The program relies on employee involvement and focuses on education for disadvantaged youth and community initiatives important to local employees.
It’s also the genre of Talcove himself. He didn’t plan to someday become a CEO — or even go to college, for that matter.
“The only person that’s more surprised is my father,” Talcove joked.
Instead, he decided to do things he had a lot of passion for, and take the opportunities that followed.
“I’ve always stayed at companies as long as I’ve valued what they did and I got some enjoyment out of it, and, conversely, I felt like I was adding value,” Talcove said.
And in the nearly 12 years he has been with LexisNexis Risk Solutions, he has seen tremendous technological and organizational development and growth by deeply understanding its customers and providing solutions that make a difference.
And as a leader, Talcove is facilitating that growth by forming relationships and creating a culture of role models.
“I always say groups make much better decisions than individuals,” he said, “and you want to reward people, you want to thank people, you want to make them feel like they are productive and they are making a difference, and usually when that happens, there’s good outcomes.”
Feeling Good and Giving Back
At the end of the day, Talcove believes he wouldn’t be sitting where he is if it weren’t for Benson taking an interest in him and giving him a chance. In return, he mentors younger professionals to excel in their positions and careers, providing the same types of opportunities he was given early on.
And along with watching his two girls grow up and remaining passionate about the work he does, he is heavily invested in his wellbeing and motivating others to make healthy decisions.
“I dropped about 50 pounds four years ago, and I’m really into health, as everyone in this office knows,” Talcove said. He’s also passionate about making sure LexisNexis Risk Solutions provides healthy food in the office.
“I really love educating people on nutrition,” he added. Talcove is not a certified expert, but he knows what is good and bad for the body, and knows the older one gets, the healthier one needs to be.
Since he’s changed his lifestyle, Talcove is healthier, feels better and has more energy to lead a team providing the tools to stop fraud and “catch the bad guys.”