The way Sony George sees it, software is what drives improvement.
All those routine tasks and burdensome paper processes that too often characterize the federal workflow: Software fixes that. As CEO of MindPetal Software Solutions, George leads a team whose efforts aim to leverage software in support of federal process improvements.
We talked to George about MindPetal’s offerings, about transformational change, and about his efforts to create a unique, high-performance business culture.
What is MindPetal’s niche?
We are the company that makes things happen. Our core expertise is in business process management and case management systems. We leverage software to modernize legacy systems.
There are cases where people were still using paper documents for various government filings. Somebody still has to literally open an envelope and scan it into the system. That’s unbelievable at a time when everything is online. And then there are all these legacy systems out there, which are their own islands.
We connect all these so data flow can happen. That’s the transformational change cycle.
What gets in the way of government’s efforts to modernize?
The beast you know is better than the beast you don’t know — that is part of it, the mindset problem. But external forces can change that, as we saw with COVID, where there was tremendous pressure from the public to digitize citizen-facing processes and make things more efficient and accessible online.
As a firm focused on digital modernization, we can also help to overcome that resistance by proposing incremental change.
We are not completely replacing these legacy systems. Rather, it is a step-by-step process where we are able to bring a new layer on top of these existing legacy systems. We bring that interface so that you are not throwing anything out, but rather building on existing capabilities and processes. Then people are more willing to embrace the technology, and the adaptation happens faster.
How do you differentiate MindPetal from other GovCons?
We try our best to go above and beyond what we have committed to in making sure that our clients are successful. That has been our mantra. Sometimes, if you go literally by what the contract says, then it may meet the contractual requirements, but it may not meet your client’s needs. We have always been flexible and focused on ensuring we offer enduring value to our customers.
We have a team that embraces this culture, where they are willing to put in that additional time and effort to make sure that we deliver real value for our clients. There are cases where we have deployed systems where the team has to be there working countless hours for many weeks or months to make it successful. Even when deadlines were not realistic, we did everything humanly possible to get it done.
How do you get that level of performance from your team?
There is no magic recipe, beyond time and commitment. It takes years to build that kind of a team dynamic and customer-focused culture. It starts with trust: I trust my team to deliver for our clients as much as they trust me to take care of them. It’s a symbiotic relationship. It’s a culture of togetherness: That’s what makes us different.
We do team-building exercises like everybody else, but it’s not just that. In this day and age, it has to be more than just a slogan. It’s what you do for people day in and day out. When people have medical situations or family situations where they need to take prolonged leave, at MindPetal, they don’t have to worry about whether they’ll lose the job or the position or the title that they had. We do everything we can to accommodate them. We do things as a family.
What’s the biggest challenge you face?
Right now, we’re on a growth spurt. The last few years have been really good for MindPetal. Now, our challenge is to set up our leadership in such a way that we continue to grow without compromising on our culture.
To get there, we’re working to bring in leaders who have experience transforming a company from our level to the next level, people who have gone through the transformation process and share our customer and employee focus.
Last year, we hired [former CEO of OnPoint Consulting]Shankar Pillai as vice president of corporate development because he has experience doing exactly this kind of thing. Rather than hiring somebody from a large business, we look for people who have gone through this kind of growth challenge.
You’ve been in the GovCon world for almost 25 years. What makes this work personally satisfying for you?
This is the one place where you can have a direct impact on the public. I started my federal consulting career during the Clinton administration when there was a lot of interest in single-entry portals like USA.gov — places where you could add a lot of value to people’s lives.
In federal consulting, the impact of what we do is significant. What we do matters, and how well we do it really matters. And here at MindPetal, we take that challenge seriously.