Avantus Federal CEO Andy Maner has been appointed as chair of the WashingtonExec Leadership Council for 2021-2022.
“My fundamental belief about our market is that more collaboration is always better for our combined missions and customers that we all serve,” Maner tells WashingtonExec. “New kinds of collaboration, cross collaboration, meaning CIOs need to know CFOs, vice versa and et cetera. I’m just an absolute zealot about these interactions, because we all learn something — so anything that helps our industry in that way, I support.”
Maner is preparing to lead the council on the heels of companywide growth, changes and updates. Avantus Federal rebranded from E3/Sentinel in October 2020, acquired MissionTech Solutions, LLC in November and has since announced several leadership team hires.
“You have to pay really close attention to your core values when you’re hiring, because you want people that match your values and the great team you already have,” Maner says. “I love all our hires for that reason.”
Avantus Federal added Luanne Pavco as president of Avantus Services and as chief delivery officer in January, joining the executive team as a senior member. In February, the company bolstered its space team with industry veterans Doug McCobb, Taylor Edwards and Scott Anderson. And in March, the company added Lynn Dugle to its board of directors.
These hires, Maner says, are part of the company’s commitment to core values, especially as it rebranded and plans to continue growing with M&A, new business wins and an expansion of mission areas and eminence.
“I love linking everything to the core values, and bringing in all those people, [it’s] very important for the culture we have already built,” he says. “They’re important to the business, because they’re skilled and they’re mission focused, but they’re important to the business because they are living our core values.”
And that focus on culture is why Maner says Avantus Federal’s rebrand is never truly complete; it’s a process of growth and building the company, together — it takes years.
As Maner and Avantus Federal focus on emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s also put a continued emphasis on the company’s Integrated Talent Management, or ITM, program which includes special employee benefits, diversity and inclusion, professional development, employee resource groups and leadership development as examples.
“We have over a thousand people now, and we believe every single person has a career path. Every single person deserves personal development and a safe, equitable place to work,” Maner says. “All of those things are contained in our ITM vision.”
Maner’s commitment to people, the market and the industry’s workforce is also driving his leadership of the council.
“Just like my own business, I like to be around people who are aggressive, who try new things, who innovate, and if something works, they do more of it. If something doesn’t work, they just move on from it,” Maner says.
For example, Maner is always looking to collaborate with other CEOs, executives and “competimates” on matters that impact the industry.
“I think there’s a lot we can learn from each other about the softer parts of our business,” he says. “Return to work from COVID, diversity and inclusion, Section 3610, etc. There’s a lot of things that affect all our businesses we need to collaborate on.”
Maner enjoys learning from people and finds the council and its format to be an engine for collaboration, especially in government contracting.
“We have the most dynamic market that exists anywhere. I just want to protect it and get better every year, because our customer, U.S. government, demands it,” he says. “They need more help every year. So, the only way we can help them is that we help them as a market, as an industry, as a cohort.”
Maner wants to ensure the industry is raising the level of its interactions and capabilities for the government, together.
“If you were a young person starting out, you want to be in this market. This is where you can learn huge breadth of skills and from a huge breadth of missions,” he says. “I just think we do better when we think like it is.”
That’s the mentality Maner plans to bring to the council. As its chair, he hopes to serve as a bridge between the problems, challenges and opportunities the industry faces, and the actions to help solve them.
“There’s so many admired people [in the council], that I’ve looked up to my whole career, and new people who I admire every day,” he says. “All I’m going to help to do is help lead, to help us keep up with that pace of change in the federal government.”
For instance, Maner plans to discuss talent, diversity and inclusion and think about new models for virtual work environments.
“Is there something we can learn from COVID. . . what did we learn about how and where our people work most effectively?’ That has to be on the agenda,” Maner says.
That’s why he converses with others in industry on a regular basis, to share best practices around handling new challenges.
“We’re not a stagnant market; we’re in evolution all the time. I just want to help do my part, tap into the best knowledge, a living business. There’s incredible leadership in this market, and I think we’ve to tap into it,” Maner says.