As a mid-sized company, Altamira brings depth of experience to the national security space, along with the agility to respond to emerging needs. WashingtonExec caught up with CEO Jane Chappell to talk about how the company approaches that work.
What is Altamira’s niche in the GovCon space?
Altamira has a long history of supporting missile defense and missile warning missions at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. As a result of this support, we have expanded our niche across all phases of the space and cyber domains to include incubating innovation, research, development, DevSecOps and supporting missions with analysts on operations floors.
Altamira now has strong capabilities in Earth observation, synthetic aperture radar and infrared exploitation, and offensive cyber. In analytics, we have strong machine learning, automation, statistical modeling, visualization and analytic methodology capabilities.
We deliver full-spectrum engineering and analytic solutions, informed by mission experts, accelerated by data science and architected by elite engineering teams.
How do you approach that work?
Being a mid-size company gives Altamira the scale to reach back to talent, capabilities and past performance that small companies don’t have. From a human capital perspective, we have strong technical acumen across a wide array of capabilities — cloud, full stack software development, data science, network, infrastructure and so on.
The mid-size also gives us very strong past performance from several premier customers across different missions focusing on the space and cyber domains.
We also have the overall discipline and guidance, without being too process- and approval-heavy handed, as the large systems integrators tend to be: Enough process to ensure we deliver on our commitments, but not so much to either slow us down or constrain our innovation.
What are the biggest challenges your customers face these days?
The ever-evolving national threat is one of the biggest challenge our customers face. How do they get more agility in their contracting vehicles? How do they keep up with the speed of change in technology?
We are working with our customers in a much more agile fashion. This agility has to take into account how requirements are contracted, written, developed and tested. We have to work together in a way that ensures the customer gets what they need in a changing environment but also ensures we can keep a baseline to plan from.
On the technology side, we have to develop our systems to ensure we don’t get into vendor lock — using features only available in that vendor’s product. This is easier said than done and requires diligence across all teams. DevSecOps and being able to turn changes into “Ops ready” quickly is also key to our strategy.
What can other GovCons learn from your experiences?
Success starts with being a trusted mission partner with our customers, our teammates and our vendors. This partnership includes me, our PMs, contracts, as well as our the engineers developing the solutions. With that partnership comes trust and buy-in to the path forward.
From a trend standpoint, it is all about the data — creating it, storing it, protecting it, moving it and analyzing/exploiting it. New data sources are coming online quickly. Our architectures have to be scalable, secure and agile to process the different types of data and new and improved analytics.
Some of our people do really advanced analytics; some create scalable, reliable, robust technical architectures; some of our people are domain or mission experts . . . we are putting these three together to deliver agile, mission focused analytic systems and solution architectures for our customers.
What are Altamira’s biggest challenges?
We all have the challenge of hiring and retaining top talent. In these days of COVID, we have all seen people stand back and take stock of what they want to do going forward. What is admirable about Altamira is how close we are to our customer’s mission. Our team views our customers’ missions as our own.
We take pride in the capability we bring to the mission and the outcomes this provides to our customers. Knowing the difference our team makes to national security motivates us and certainly helps us engage a top-notch technical workforce. In addition, we routinely look at our benefits and adjust ensure we stay competitive plus a little better.
Where’s Altamira headed? Strategic direction or mid- to long-term goals?
We like the domains that we are in — space and cyber. We like our technical capabilities in full stack software development and analytics. We like the missions we currently support. Going forward, we would like to grow to the left and right of where our current missions begin and end.
Our solutions start with deep mission understanding. That will enable us to expand beyond our current footprint to better support our current customers, as well as bring new capabilities and thought leadership to new customers.
In addition to this organic growth, we are looking at potential niche inorganic growth to round out our portfolio.
On a personal note, what makes this work meaningful to you?
I love the national security mission. It is what I have done one way or another my whole career. I love the people who support this mission, their passion to improve our capabilities and give the nation’s decision makers’ and war fighters’ the most accurate and timely intelligence possible.
At the end of the day, I know we are making a meaningful contribution in protecting our country.