ManTech’s Innovation and Capabilities Office was stood up in June 2020 to develop differentiated, cutting-edge technology solutions that help solve its customers’ toughest problems. A key factor in successful innovation is the ability to lead with agility.
That’s according to Srini Iyer, ManTech chief technology officer and senior vice president in charge of ManTech’s ICO.
“One of the challenges that we have is, how do we get the solutions in our customer’s hands at a rapid and escalating pace?” Iyer told WashingtonExec.
Adversaries are moving at speed, Iyer said, and the ICO works to get solutions to customers to address national security issues before they happen.
To manage his dual responsibilities, Iyer draws on his extensive experience in the commercial world and public industry.
As a CTO, he has to understand the big picture of the technology landscape, and where it is headed years in advance.
“There are so many difference advancements coming through, and we need to keep our eye on what is relevant to us and what is not,” he said.
And as head of the ICO, Iyer is focused on taking that knowledge and executing on it by building advanced solutions.
That’s where his experience and ManTech’s history come in.
“First and foremost is the ability to listen to our customers, understand their challenges and deliver innovative, mission-critical solutions,” he said. “One of the advantages ManTech has is that we have a 52-year history, so we have real-world use cases that demonstrate our agility and support for customers across all sectors.”
Secondly, Iyer said, it’s all about talent, and developing a team culture that attracts and rewards innovative thinkers, mentors them and further enhances their knowledge and capabilities through tuition-paid degree programs in areas vital to government customers — such as cyber, cloud, analytics and AI. Along with solutions, it is talent and culture that continue to set ManTech apart in the industry.
The Time to Innovate is Now
The ICO has focused on key technology areas and has made significant progress in developing advanced solutions for customers. It is investing in advanced technologies like cognitive cyber, artificial intelligence and intelligent systems engineering to keep the U.S. ahead of adversaries.
“Right now, more than ever before, our adversaries are using advanced technologies at a much faster pace and even using some of our nation’s own technologies against us,” Iyer said. “We are focusing on technology areas to help our customers stay one step ahead of these new challenges.”
For instance, ManTech is leveraging cognitive cyber with machine learning to identify patterns and detect threats to protect physical and digital systems. The company is also advancing the field of Model-Based Systems Engineering and developing digital twins and virtual models that let customers “test before they fly.”
Another ICO focus area is hyperscale analytics — to accelerate actionable intelligence and provide relevant, high-value data to warfighters on the ground, as well as to federal civilian customers. This includes gathering data and running analytics as close as possible to where sensors collect data.
Because federal technology challenges vary from one agency to the next, Iyer said industry needs to have an exponential, agile mindset to solving problems. The traditional linear approach, like incremental development, won’t cut it anymore.
“We believe in being audacious when it comes to supporting our customers’ needs,” he said. “We need to think of what is possibly going to happen and ensure mission success under every conceivable circumstance.”
Essentially, industry needs to stay ahead of the curve more proactively, as opposed to being reactive — and that’s what ManTech and the ICO are working toward.
Diversity in Talent to Succeed
ManTech has also taken a strong approach on hiring experts from around the nation to lead its innovation initiatives. As Iyer put it, workforce diversity remains a vital commitment at ManTech.
“Just having technology is not going to help our customers,” he added.
Diversity of talent and people is “absolutely needed,” Iyer said, as is diversity in thinking.
“When you look at my leadership team, not only are they diverse; they come from different industries,” he said, “and they all have an entrepreneurial mindset.”
This broad combination of backgrounds and forward-looking mindsets fuels ManTech’s ability to solve problems differently, and to address technology challenges in original, nontraditional ways.
“It has been a big advantage for us to be able to hire industry’s top leaders as part of our team to support our customers and their challenges,” Iyer said.
ManTech is also passionate about hiring veterans. According to Iyer, nearly half of the company’s employees are veterans, and they bring needed functional domain expertise.
Diversity of talent and thought expands the positive impact and long-term value of what ManTech brings to customers.
“We have the breadth of skill sets and the depth to back it up,” Iyer said. “If the range is increased significantly, the art of the possible has gone up significantly on what we can deliver.”
Investing in a Secure Nation
First and foremost, Iyer is passionate about national security. It keeps him up at night and has driven ManTech for the entirety of its existence.
“The culture that we have here at ManTech is all about how we address national security challenges,” Iyer said.
As CTO and head of the ICO, Iyer and his team remain heavily focused on securing the nation. Along with hyperscale analytics, cyber threat detection, and intelligent systems engineering, his team members are focused on capabilities like zero trust to ensure the country’s digital assets are protected.
“Those are the things that keep me excited about what I do,” he said. “I have an excellent team to back it up. So, I can’t ask for anything better.”