The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is DOD Industry Executive of the Year (Private Company) finalist Earl G. Matthews, who’s president of Veeam Government Solutions. Here, he talks key achievements, career advice, proud career moments and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020/2021?
In June 2021, we launched Veeam Government Solutions, the government subsidiary of Veeam Software. This has been one of the most outstanding achievements in my career.
While Veeam has been supporting the federal government for many years, VGS was launched to better serve government agencies by providing the most flexible, reliable and accessible data protection and backup solutions with consideration of their unique mission requirements.
As president of VGS, I oversee support for more than 1,200 government customers and help federal agencies navigate the complexities and challenges of the current cybersecurity environment.
Under my leadership, VGS has helped multiple national security civilian agencies and DOD components quickly restore more than a petabyte of mission-critical data, including during significant pandemic-related disruptions.
Our team also built an advisory board of government leaders to inform and support our ongoing commitment to being a trusted guide for federal customers.
What has made you successful in your current role?
My previous roles provided me with unparalleled experiences that have led to my success as the leader of VGS. These roles include senior positions with the White House, DOD and the intelligence community. Under the previous administration, I served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for defense policy and strategy on the National Security Council staff.
I also served as acting general counsel of the Army and as a special assistant to the secretary of defense. Additionally, I have experience on the ground as a military veteran of combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan and as an active-duty officer at the Pentagon.
During my time in each of these positions, I saw leaders struggle to store, process and use the millions of bytes of data they collect every day — a challenge that can severely impact mission success and threaten the lives of soldiers when accurate, up-to-date information is unavailable on the battlefield.
Understanding this challenge and the opportunities to overcome it have been instrumental to my success as president of VGS.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
We shape the next generation of leaders by being accessible and available to train, coach and mentor them. I prioritize imparting best practices and the insight gained through experience, including what I have learned through mistakes and failures of the past. We shape future leaders by creating opportunities for them to excel, to succeed and to fail, because often they can learn more from their failures than their successes.
Prior to my transition into private industry, I spent the bulk of my professional career in public service either as a military officer, a civil servant or a senior political appointee. I learned that active talent-spotting and cultivation of future leaders within an organization is a moral imperative of leadership.
As senior executives, we are stewards of the future of the enterprise, whether it’s in government or industry. We lay the foundation for future success by ensuring the next occupants of our seats are equipped with the experience, knowledge and intellectual flexibility to meet the challenges they are likely to face.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
I’ve spent most of my professional life in the public service of the United States and I am humbled and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to serve our country and advance our interests at home and abroad.
I’ve been privileged to serve with and to lead and learn from the best people our country has to offer; the men and women who wear the nation’s cloth. I’ve had unique opportunities, like helping to build rule of law institutions abroad, advising commanders during active combat operations and participating in the initial planning and development of the sixth branch of the armed forces, the U.S. Space Force.
In addition to my corporate responsibilities at VGS, I continue to serve as a colonel in the Army Reserve.
In many ways, I consider my leadership of VGS as continued public service but within the private sector. At VGS, I continue to work with and support the men and women of our armed forces as well as public servants from across the civilian agencies and the intelligence community.
By providing superior data protection, disaster recovery and replication capabilities, we ensure that these patriots have continuous access to the critical data they need to accomplish their vital missions.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
The best advice I can offer those who follow in my footsteps is that no person can advance merely by his or her own efforts; you need the support and assistance of teammates, colleagues, subordinates and mentors.
Stay mission-focused, be self-aware and open to criticism. Constantly build personal relationships, seek guidance and mentorship from those who have gone before you and from your colleagues.
Also, make sure you’re always learning something new and continue to mentor others along your journey.