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 Business Development Executive of the Year (Private Company) finalist Jeff Kerridge, who’s senior vice president for business development nuclear and environment at Amentum. Here, he talks key achievements, focus areas going forward, proud career moments and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020/2021?
I feel honored to have led Amentum’s Nuclear and Environment’s Global Business Development team. It has been a banner year for our company for winning new and meaningful work around the world. We were awarded over 22 contracts worldwide to conduct environmental cleanup giving a strong backlog for the next 15 years.
Most recently, two U.S. Department of Energy contracts at the Oak Ridge Reservation and Savannah River Site totaling $29 billion awarded are as large in importance as they are crucial elements in the continued cleanup efforts of some of our nation’s most dangerous and hazardous nuclear facilities, waste and environmental remediation sites.
These contaminated facilities were used to manufacture nuclear materials as part of the Manhattan Project for decades. Our overseas recent contract awards are smaller in size, but just as important as we bring the lessons learned from the U.S. to help other countries with their cleanup efforts.
On the human side, we achieved incredible team unity among a very diverse group of individuals who embrace the concept that team collaboration and effort achieve amazing results. I have seen that diversity brings better outcomes and have built a team that is 50% female, 50% male and represents five nationalities.
Diverse perspectives bring great results once everyone feels included in the team and comfortable to share. Come to any of our meetings, and you’ll see our team members support and constructively challenge each other, regardless of seniority or position in the company.
What are you most proud of having been part of your current organization?
Getting the entire organization behind a concept I refer to as “It Takes a Village.” First, we needed to get our business development group to embrace the concept, then spread it to the rest of the organization. It took some time even within our business development group to gain some traction, but now everyone is onboard.
Our group is very diverse and comes from all over the globe, but regardless who is leading a capture effort, everyone else pitches in wherever they and whenever they are asked.
The bond and comradery of this group of highly competitive individuals is so strong that no one is worrying about getting the individual credit for new business wins, we take pride as a group.
“We won” or “We did it” is what everyone says, no matter if they led the capture or didn’t participate at all. Once the business development group bought into this concept, we were all ambassadors to spread this idea to the rest of the organization.
Often, organizations rely on the business development group to win work. In our company, each function is equally important to winning new work: legal negotiates good teaming and operating agreements, the contracting group reviews the terms of the Request for Proposals, HR identifies key personnel, the communications group builds an advertising campaign, finance funds the proposal and helps price the bid, and of course, the best way to win new work is to excel for clients for the projects we have today.
Why I am particularly proud to be part of Amentum is that so many colleagues proactively fulfill their responsibilities to help develop and win new work. We take collective pride in winning new and important projects.
When I bring new talent onto the team, I am always looking for a hunger for this way of working and excitement for our shared purpose.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are these so important to the future of the nation?
We aim to win work that is important, meaningful and challenging. Helping clean up the environment for future generations aligns to the core values of our entire workforce. As long as there are environmental hazards and nuclear liabilities in existence, we will continue to focus on improving and protecting the environment and people of our great nation and around the world.
We want to continue to be the company governments select to clean up nuclear and environmental hazards, especially those that are most challenging and difficult. Our people seek out this work and take great pride in delivering beyond the customers’ expectations, often ahead of schedule and under budget.
The result is we are reducing some of the world’s top environmental risks, making our world a safer place to live.
Looking back on your career, what are you most proud of?
I have been fortunate to be part of successful teams for my entire career, including 6 years working abroad and 10 years helping to clean up the DOE Rocky Flats site in Colorado. Rocky Flats built plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons, until the decision was made in 1995 to halt operations and begin cleanup.
Initial cost estimates from the U.S. government were $36 billion and 65 years, but we completed the work in 10 years for $7.2 billion.
This project was the first of its kind at such scale globally, with no textbooks or how-to-guides to tell us what to do. It addressed two things core to my purpose at work: protecting the environment and society from hazards of past operations and saving taxpayer dollars (billions of dollars).
My delivery responsibility at Rocky Flats has made me a better business development leader: I have greater empathy for client needs and know how to incorporate innovation responsibly into a bid that requires the highest levels of risk management and maintenance of the strongest safety culture.
Just when I thought I couldn’t be lucky enough to be part of another iconic project, I was appointed to the board of managers for the Amentum-led UCOR LLC, responsible for completing the cleanup and closure of DOE’s East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This site was built in the 1940s as part of the original Manhattan Project to produce highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb.
The demolition and cleanup of 6 million square feet of contaminated facilities and remediation of the surrounding soil and groundwater was completed earlier this year, ahead of schedule and under budget. The great woman and men of Tennessee delivered this project with just as much pride as previous generations who completed the remarkable construction and operation of this first-of-a kind facility.
It has now been designated as the 409th U.S. National Park, and if you are ever near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, please stop by and visit the K-25 History Center.
In closing, I am proud to have established and led teams that harness their diversity, passion and commitment to win. Nothing great is achieved by keeping our wild ideas to ourselves.