The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 11, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person Nov. 30.
Next is DOD Industry Executive of the Year (Public Company) finalist Meisha Lutsey, who’s president of operations support and services for CACI International. Here, she talks key achievements, primary focus areas going forward and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2021/2022?
During the past two years, my organization has adapted to the changing complexities of the geopolitical landscape, including the shift of the national defense strategy and the focus on great power competition. This pivot has made it crucial for CACI to stay in front of the challenge by planning and preparing through our customers’ shift in mindset, both from an expertise and technology perspective.
Specifically, my team has supported the Defense Department and Intelligence Community through a global pandemic, which impacted our workforce greatly, and grappled with the drawdown in Afghanistan, where my team had a significant presence for many years.
In both situations, this team responded to daily challenges with absolute quickness despite the impacts on them personally and professionally, and they continue to show grace under fire. I am incredibly proud of their commitment to our customers and how well they worked together to ensure all personnel had the resources required to be successful.
In parallel, we achieved significant growth allowing us to expand our workforce and grow our customer base. Last year, we secured a $1.4 billion task order to continue working with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and won a new $785 million task order with Army Special Operations Command. We also expanded in a new geographical area for CACI, Huntsville, Alabama, by winning a new contract to support the U.S. Army Futures Command at Redstone Arsenal.
I am extremely proud of my team for their unwavering commitment to our customers and for the duty of care they continue to demonstrate to each other.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
With the pivot in the national defense strategy and the promulgation of data-connected everything, we are focused on leveraging technology to help our experts make better-informed decisions to solve some of our most pressing national security challenges faster.
At CACI, our mission and vision have revolved around investing ahead of our customers’ needs, and we will continue to do so. Within the past year, we have made significant investments in technology to help our national security customers better understand open-source intelligence, such as Dark, Deep and Open Web data for in-depth digital investigations.
With our latest acquisition of Bluestone Analytics, our tool, the DarkBlue Intelligence Platform, can extract and analyze unstructured data from hidden sources into timely, actionable intelligence thus helping DOD to identify unique threats.
Rather than drown in data, our customers are using DarkBlue to access over 5 billion records, and our powerful web-scrapers index content near-real-time, yielding over 500,000 new records per day.
As the government continues to look outside of the traditional platform development cycles, it frees us to leverage commercial off-the-shelf solutions and software-enabled capabilities to help them bridge the gap of data overload and make sense of disparate data sets. This is a matter of national security as it helps us to quickly develop sound intelligence for decision-makers.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
Shaping the next generation starts with the creation of a culture of empathy, openness, collaboration and discipline. These are key imperatives to enable the bedrock of developing leaders. Enabling the culture will allow for the natural horizontal integration of ideas throughout the enterprise.
I also believe that we must commit to achieving diversity and inclusion initiatives that challenge us to ensure we have representation in all areas, a goal that I share with CACI. Diversity enables us to achieve success as our workforce will bring the ideas needed to achieve greatness in government and industry.
A one-size-fits-all solution does not work to ensure the next generation of leaders have what they need to be successful. Working with employees of various backgrounds, education and learning styles are critical to ensure we can develop our future leaders.
Lastly, I encourage our people to work outside of their comfort zones and to create a roadmap for development, allowing for failure, self-discovery and placing them in uncomfortable, yet safe environments enabling significant growth. I strongly believe in mentorship and training.
Leaders aren’t born, rather they’re molded by successes and failures, and guided by other leaders that know what right looks like. I know I have learned just as much from my failures, if not more, than my successes.