Mike Fox is the Vice President of Corporate Business Development and Chief Strategy Officer of Attain. When he first started at SRA it was a $30 million company, so he says his transition to Attain has not been as hard as some would think. Fox is excited to come to work everyday because he enjoys being responsible for laying out a roadmap for growth and building a company from the ground up. To hear Fox on what makes up a successful business development team watch the video below.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you explain your role at Attain and your ambitions and goals for Attain in 2010?
Fox: I am the vice president of corporate business development and Attain's chief strategy officer. As the vice president responsible for leading Attain's corporate business development, I have been tasked with standing up a world class business development organization. The job involves creating a process that instills in our organization a rigor and discipline in the way we identify and capture new business. It also involves expanding the company through new hires to build out our business development team.
In my role as chief strategy officer of Attain, I am working with the rest of our executive team to lay out a roadmap for growth. As you may know, our goal is to become an elite professional services company and reach $500 million in revenue by 2015. Creating the roadmap to achieve that goal involves identifying key industry trends, developing new offerings and solutions, and building relationships with the partners and vendors that align with our strategies. My responsibility is to develop Attain's formal strategic plan, based on that roadmap, to serve as our guide for the next five years.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you tell me about the culture at Attain? What gets you excited to come to work everyday?
Fox: Inside Attain, there is a very collegial and collaborative environment. One of the company's core values, and a saying coined by our CEO Greg Baroni, is team for speed. That concept manifests itself literally every day as colleagues working together as a single team ““ helping each other and calling upon each others' strengths. Attain's people take the business seriously, but at the end of the day they truly enjoy the work they do. It is a dynamic place to work, which is probably why I most like going there every day. It is exciting; it is challenging; it can be exhausting at times, but it really is a lot of fun. I told Greg just the other day, I am having a ball.
“But the challenges and excitement of working at a smaller start-up far outweigh those times when I have to coordinate my own meeting or fill out my expense report.” – Mike Fox
ExecutiveBiz: What are your long-term and short-term goals?
Fox: My first order of business is to get Attain's business development and capture process in place and ensure that we are adding opportunities to our pipeline. There has to be a precision and discipline to that process. Another short-term goal of mine is to secure more contract vehicles, which will be critical to our growth. In the long-term, my goal is to eventually get farther out in front of opportunities, which will give us the time to position ourselves to do everything we need to do to win. That's the sign of a really mature business and development capture organization.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you grow a company 10% when the market is only growing 3-3 ½%?
Fox: The overall market is growing at a rate of about three to three and a half percent, but if you look below the top-line budget numbers, there are parts of the Federal market that are growing much faster, such as intelligence, C4ISR, cyber security, health IT, grants management, and ERP. The budgets in these areas are growing eight, nine, or even greater than ten percent. The key is to focus on these, what I call “˜fast-moving streams', with a portfolio of innovative business offerings and solutions, a solid go-to-market business development strategy, and the right vendor partners and alliances. With that approach you can ride a wave over a rather sluggish market.
ExecutiveBiz: What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Fox: My wife and I are fanatical Red Sox fans. When they renovated Fenway Park this past year, they sold some of the old box seats on the Internet, and now we have two of them in our living room which we sit in to watch the games on television. It's almost like being at the game.
ExecutiveBiz: Let's talk about your transition from SRA and what you learned from SRA that will help you in your current job?
Fox: The transition was not nearly as hard as some others thought it would be. You have to remember that when I joined SRA we were only about a $30 million dollar company. And even though I eventually ended up managing a 120-person marketing and sales organization, I never stopped being the type of business development executive that enjoyed rolling up my sleeves and being very hands-on. That's exactly the situation at Attain and why I'm so excited to be here. I get the opportunity again to help build an organization from the ground up and be very engaged in every aspect of the business development process ““ meeting with potential customers, developing capture strategies, building winning teams, and working on proposals. But what's even better is that while Attain is a smaller company, we are not a small business. We have about a $50 million run rate and more than 130 contracts with more than 125 customers. It is truly the best of both worlds ““ a start-up environment in a $50 million business. Of course, there are times when I miss having the support staff and resources I had at a larger company. But the challenges and excitement of working at a smaller start-up far outweigh those times when I have to coordinate my own meeting or fill out my expense report. Leaving SRA to join Attain is one of the best decisions I've ever made.
ExecutiveBiz: A lot of people know and have heard of Greg Baroni around the beltway. What's he like behind the scenes?
Fox: What I enjoy the most about Greg is how hands-on and involved he is in the day-to-day business development and corporate strategy activities at Attain. He never hesitates to attend a capture plan briefing, visit a customer or meet with a potential teaming partner, no matter the size of the opportunity; not what I'm used to seeing from a CEO. Several times during a meeting, he just picks up his phone, calls one of his industry contacts and opens a door. He may be larger than life in terms of his reputation, but when it comes to day-to-day business at Attain, he is the kind of leader who is right in there with you.
ExecutiveBiz: What mark, or legacy, do you want to make on Attain?
Fox: I hope Attain is seen as a highly successful professional services company, and is recognized for its reputation for having the highest integrity, the quality of services it provides to its customers, and the talented people it employs. I hope people look back and think, “˜boy, those guys really accomplished a lot in the last five years.'
To watch Mike Fox talk about his mentor, Renny DePentima, click here.
To watch Mike Fox talk about his transition to Attain click here.