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 Cybersecurity Industry Executive of the Year (Public Company) finalist Dan Voce, who’s senior vice president for enterprise cyber and solutions at Leidos. Here, he talks success in his current role, career advice, proud career moments and more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Put simply, my team. The success I’ve had has a leader is the result of the talented people who are delivering on our vision. Our business unit has been successful — winning numerous nation-scale contracts over the past two years — because of their commitment, strategic vision and dedication to our customers. We have a strong collaborative spirit and back each other up daily.
The culture they have helped me create has instilled a mission focus that is dedicated towards ensuring our customers achieve their objectives. We’re not perfect, but we never stop learning and we never stop trying to figure out how to improve. It’s an honor to lead this team.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
Years ago, I changed roles and began working new business captures. It was a pivotal time, as it exposed me to the entirety of our business — not just the technical side that I had been so immersed in for many years, but also finance, program management, contracts and subcontracts and many other functions.
I also gained a heightened appreciation for what new business means to a company. It’s not just financial growth; it’s also opportunity to grow our capabilities and innovate across our enterprise. It also means new options for our talented people.
On a personal level, I was fortunate to lead key portions of several successful new business efforts and increase my visibility across the company. Building those new relationships challenged me as a leader and helped me grow. I continue to apply those lessons to this day.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
I see talent development as a principal part of my job. Shaping the next generation of leaders comes in several forms for me. Certainly, mentoring is a big part of that, and we are fortunate in Leidos to have a formal mentoring program that pairs our emerging leaders with executives on an annual basis.
I take full advantage of this and mentor several rising leaders as a result. But also, it’s important to offer mentoring “on-demand” whenever the opportunity presents itself. Sometimes, the simplest conversations with leaders can go a long way in helping their career progression.
In addition to mentoring, I also believe in taking a hands-on approach working side-by-side with our emerging leaders. It’s not always enough to guide through words. By collaborating and being “in the fight” together, our emerging leaders can learn by example and take those experiences with them. They see you as willing to be all-in with the team, and that hopefully inspires them to do the same as their responsibilities grow.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the team I’ve been given the opportunity to lead today. To a person, they are dedicated to meeting our customers’ missions and they do so with integrity, commitment and agility. Finding talent is never easy, but I’m delighted to have seen this team form. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today, nor would our business unit.
Being part of shared success in increasing the size and scope of our business while achieving more and more objectives for our customers has been a thrill.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
It starts with our customers. Listen to them — closely. Don’t presume you know better, operate with extreme humility and a desire to learn. Focus on their issues — not yours. While doing so, help grow the company, and do so the right way — by identifying the gaps our customers are trying fill and delivering cost-effective solutions to those gaps that they want to procure.
Do those things, and your career will accelerate. Maybe not on the rapid timescale you are looking for, but if you are persistent, it will come.