Editor’s note: The winner of the Chief Officer Awards Public Company Chief Marketing/Communications Officer Award announced June 17 is Roela Santos of SAIC.
On June 17, WashingtonExec will be virtually celebrating the most impactful and innovative C-suite executives in government and industry. These chief officers work in technology, security, data, operations, finance, business and more, excelling on both sides of the government contracting sector. Our team of judges have chosen the finalists for the inaugural Chief Officer Awards, so before we announce the winners during the event, we wanted to get to know the finalists a bit better. This Q&A series highlights their careers, successes, proud professional moments and notable risks.
Matt Maurer is chief marketing officer of ICF and a finalist in the Public Company Chief Marketing/Communications Officer Award Category.
What key achievements did you have in 2019?
2019 was an incredible year: We welcomed a new CEO, we prepped for the important acquisition of ITG, a digital transformation company, we celebrated ICF’s 50th anniversary, and we grew our business in numerous markets and regions. Perhaps the one thing we were most excited about last year was the launch of a new, unified go-to-market brand for ICFs digital marketing business, ICF Next.
We built the brand for ICF Next — a $350 million global business — from the ground up working closely with leaders within the business. We created the brand strategy, the direction, the look and feel. It’s not every day you get to create a new global brand.
Seeing it come to life was a real milestone, and the team has been quite successful since launch, with lots of recognition from the likes of AdAge, Forrester, PRWeek and many more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Growth companies, like ICF, need to regularly reinvent themselves to remain successful as market leaders. I have learned over the years that what has gotten you to a certain place cannot scale or apply forever. At some point, you have to evolve. In my current role, I’ve had to push the marketing team, our business stakeholders and our executives to embrace change and think differently about marketing and the value it can contribute. This sort of change requires building strong partnerships and aligning around shared goals.
Now, our marketing and sales teams are more closely aligned than ever before and working together to create brand awareness campaigns as well as account based marketing that is improving and evolving our reputation, while also contributing to the bottom line.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
For me, it wasn’t so much a turning point but the gradual realization that I wanted to work for mission and purpose-driven companies. I started my career in education and social policy, and it opened my eyes to the impact we can have in supporting organizations and projects that make a real and positive difference in the world.
From there, I went on to work at small startups, tech firms and larger companies. But at every stop, I made a conscious decision to join companies that weren’t just about growth. Companies that were also motivated to make a difference in the world.
ICF is certainly one of those companies, and we’ve built our strategy around growth but also a celebration of our purpose and our values. That’s a roadmap that will ensure that we’ll grow and have the kind of impact that changes lives for the better.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
There are so many things but right now, it’s been about the speed and agility with which we’ve responded as a company to COVID-19. The coronavirus has impacted so many industries ICF is present in — energy, health, transportation, consumer marketing, education, aviation and more. And the speed with which our experts and practitioners have swung into action — sharing thought leadership, research, and insights to help clients understand where things are headed — has been incredible.
Not to mention the work ICF is doing with public health agencies globally — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the U.K.’s National Health Service — to respond to the immediate health realities. For a company deeply focused on resilience, it’s been one of ICF’s finest moments.
What are your primary focuses areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
We’re working on an incredible range of issues, chief among them public health and digital transformation. The current pandemic has highlighted the challenges in our preparedness and response capability — both in the U.S. and globally. It’s likely that we’ll need a sustained level of attention on how we can improve there.
ICF is working at the forefront of these issues with public health agencies in the U.S. and around the world, and we’re eager to find ways to enhance our ability to respond to future events. Of course, a lot of that will depend heavily on improved technological capabilities to drive data, tracking, surveillance, engagement and outreach, which is another area we’ll be deeply focused in helping our clients.
How do you help shape the next-generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
As a leader, helping support and develop people is job No. 1. I’ve been fortunate to work with so many talented individuals at ICF and throughout my career. I’m an active mentor — officially and unofficially — and it’s been a goal of mine to always find ways to support individuals as they grow in their careers. To create opportunity for the next wave of leaders who will run our companies and industries.
That’s a big part of my job today. I came up under a number of mentors who supported me but also challenged me. So I find it an honor to contribute something to someone’s growth and development. One message I share often is: you don’t know how much you’re capable of. Everyone can improve and get better, and there’s no such thing as a ceiling for driven people.