Next is Steven Kelley, CEO and president of J&J Worldwide Service, and finalist in the DOD Executive of the Year, Private Company category. Here, he shares what has made him successful in his role, career turning points, proud career moments and more.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Experience. This is the 33rd consecutive year I have operated in the GOVCON industry, which dates back to my first role as a contract employee at Whiteman AFB. Knowing the contracts and customers from bid to contract award through operations is what has made me successful. I have performed every job, starting out as a contract technician, and later progressing to project manager, followed by vice president of business development, and finally CEO.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
Early on in my career I was influenced by a mentor that taught me steadfast determination and perseverance. This mentor always said, “Just stay on course and be patient and the world will come to you.” I like to call it the grind. I push until the walls come tumbling down.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
Transitioning from a 50-year, founder-led organization to my leadership and continuing double digit CAGR on EBIDTA and revenue growth. The J&J Team has literally transformed right in front of me. Many new faces but always the same mission: We SERVE Heroes.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
We are in a time of change in our industry and reimagining Government support right here in America. An emerging market is evolving within the immigration reform that must happen to better support the immigrants that enter our country.
We are at the forefront of this shift and will lead this reform into the future. We have secured major seats on numerous IDIQs, most notably the INFLUX contract procured by the Department of Interior ($75B award with a 10-year period of performance) in preparation for this change.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my family, without them none of this is possible. Specifically, my wife Tracy, in 26 years of marriage she has supported me all around the world and kept my life moving forward very smoothly with our two children and two dogs.
When I would be in some foreign country and call to say I need to go to another country, her response was always, “Be safe and hurry home.”
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Stick to your dreams, the process will take care of itself. Do not be a career jumper. Find something you’re passionate about and stick to it.