Executive Spotlight: Mike Heath of AT&T Government Solutions

Executive Spotlight: Mike Heath of AT&T Government Solutions - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Executive Spotlight: Mike Heath of AT&T Government Solutions - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Mike Heath, AT&T Government Solutions

ExecutiveBiz: Can you tell me about your background and how you came to your current position?

Mike Heath:  2011 marks 30 years in this industry for me, and it“™s been an interesting adventure. During this time, I“™ve transitioned through three different parts of the business. The first 10 years, I worked in the Bell System environment, which has changed dramatically in terms of who those companies are now and what they sell.  The next 10 years, I spent working at a couple of small startups in the Competitive Local Exchange Carrier business, which was really booming in the 1990s through early 2000. The last 10 years have been with an industry leader ““ AT&T ““ doing a variety of things.

I came to AT&T because I was looking to work for a company that had the product scale, depth, and capability around serving customers, developing new products and networks, and the whole breadth of services for customers. This became very important to me since many of the startup companies in the late 1990s were really having trouble getting all of that together. When I joined AT&T, the company was right on the cusp of developing into what AT&T is today. There have been many changes with this company in the last ten years but it was the perfect time for me to take that startup experience and come to work for a company that had a lot more scale and capability.

In the 10 years I“™ve been with AT&T, I“™ve held three very diverse jobs that have led me to my current position. I“™ve led a sales region with our enterprise clients in the Midwest. I“™ve led a nationwide sales segment for the company, focused on mid-sized business customers. For almost three years, I led a global customer service division, where I was based out of London; that was a very interesting experience. All of those led to my current role leading sales for our federal government business unit over the last three years.

ExecutiveBiz: Over those three years, what impact would you say you“™ve had on the firm“™s practice as a whole?

Mike Heath: A couple of things come to mind. The first one is all around GSA“™s Networx contract and the amount of energy, resource, and commitment AT&T has devoted in growing our business on that contract. We“™ve announced various Networx contract awards over the past few years. I feel personally very proud we“™ve been able to put solutions and capabilities together for a number of large federal government customers that led us to that contract growth. For example, we“™ve announced some very nice wins with Department of Agriculture and the Social Security Administration ““ all very compelling transformational solutions on the Networx contract that is good for our customers and is good for AT&T.

The other thing that I would note is that over the last few years, AT&T has invested heavily in a number of emerging product capabilities that are really the cornerstone of our future growth. We“™ve been successful in talking to our federal government customers about those capabilities, working on procurements and proposing some very interesting solutions to meet the needs of our customers. It is certainly helping our business grow as well. Some of these critical federal government needs revolve around security. Our Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services solution and other managed security solutions that we“™ve offered have been a real positive factor over the last couple of years. Additionally, we“™ve announced awards for our managed hosting services, our telepresence video collaboration solution, as well as being a part of the GSA cloud computing contract that was recently awarded.

ExecutiveBiz: You mentioned cloud computing ““ what“™s your take on that?  It seems like it is really starting to take off.

Mike Heath: There are a lot of drivers in business that are fueling the conversation. Our customers are looking for ways to become more efficient, do more with less funding, and find ways to better serve the mission of their enterprise in a very complex IT space. The cloud discussion becomes compelling because it offers another way to get storage, computing, and application services done that are scalable, cost effective, and with fewer resources. We know our customers are resourced-challenged. My view is that there are a lot of layers to the cloud discussion, but at its very core there are some real economic drivers, balanced with security, that our customers are looking to achieve. Our global networking strengths put us in a strong position to help customers use our cloud capabilities to address these drivers. As the cloud capabilities continue to develop, I think we are going to see more and more activity by federal agencies in this area. It is definitely a lively conversation in the marketplace today and I think rightfully so given the pressures and challenges that our customers are feeling.

ExecutiveBiz: How would you like to see your team develop over the next year or two?

Mike Heath: First of all, I would say that the core of my team is constantly looking to find and develop new and creative ways to serve our customers. For example, the whole area of telework ““ it is easy to talk about but to execute it from an IT perspective is a challenge for many of our customers. I know it is certainly on the minds of many of our customers as is robust discussions around continuity of operations and disaster recovery. In addition, I would mention some of the emerging services that represent critical investments by AT&T. For example, I“™d like to see our expertise continue to grow in matching our mobile applications capabilities with the emerging needs of the federal government. Many of our customers are looking for ways to mobilize their applications that are otherwise only accessible via either a desktop or a laptop. The whole notion of application mobilization is becoming more and more paramount to our customer base and I“™d like to see a lot of development and capability across my team to serve our customers.

I would also mention thought leadership with our customers, relative to the Obama administration and how it is looking at IT infrastructure, especially drivers around cost and design. This topic is certainly going to lead to changes as well as opportunities for AT&T to help our federal government customers improve the services that they offer their constituents, along with cost structure improvements and rate of innovation. I have high expectations for my team to be a part of that thought leadership discussion with our customers as we work through transformational thinking around IT infrastructure alternatives.

ExecutiveBiz: What are some challenges you face in your role and how do you overcome them?

Mike Heath: I would start by saying that federal agencies clearly are a very unique set of customers. To serve this market requires a broad set of tailored solutions around new technologies and products to meet the evolving requirements of the federal government. The challenge is to create solutions that hit the mark for our customers – that really help them get to the requirements, or maybe get to new requirements that they have not even thought of, to accomplish their own missions. We need to help them do it on budget and on time. Certainly, from my perspective, it takes an intensive amount of management and talented people to be successful in this market.

ExecutiveBiz: Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy in your spare time?

Mike Heath: What spare time I do have, which isn“™t much given how I just answered the previous questions, my wife and I really like to travel. Frankly, keeping up with our three grown children and their busy lives and all of the things they are doing is a lot of work; they are spread out in three different places in the country. So, we spend a lot of time on airplanes visiting the kids and staying caught up with them.

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