Rich White joined Capstone Corporation in May 2013 and serves as chief executive at the provider of information; training; and strategy, planning and operations solutions and services to the federal government.
White joined Capstone from Harris Corp, where he spent more than 30 years and held executive leadership positions in areas including space, intelligence, information technology, cybersecurity, cloud computing and healthcare.
ExecutiveBiz recently caught up with White to discuss his transition to leading a “small large” company, where the company sees opportunities in the convergence of next-gen technologies, and the significance of virtual training environments.
ExecutiveBiz: What is your professional background prior to joining Capstone Corporation?
I was a mechanisms guy, and they built these cool antennas for programs like NASAâ€™s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) that folded up like an umbrella, mounted on the satellite, and then deployed in space. I thought that was pretty interesting work.
I grew up in the space business area and eventually ended up running the space programs for Harris and then from there moved into business development for Harrisâ€™ Space and Intelligence business. Thatâ€™s what caused me, after 25 years in Florida, to move to the DC region.
Harris was looking to grow in the region and I came here to be part of that growth.
Initially I ran IC programs in the IT services business and then started moving around the region, doing different things, from working the civilian market space, to leading a cybersecurity subsidiary that Harris had acquired, to leading Harrisâ€™ cloud business, and then ultimately ended up in Harris Healthcare as COO and acting president.
Iâ€™ve had many different experiences, all the way from hardware solutions to information solutions. I had a wonderful career at Harris and worked alongside very talented people.
An opportunity was presented to meet the Capstone owners and that was the beginning of a dialogue that ultimately ended with me joining their team. They were looking for somebody to run operations and work with them to transform and grow of the company.
As you know we are in the midst of challenging times in the government market and adapting rapidly to address the challenge is critical. The chance to lead a company with a great reputation was very compelling. So I joined Capstone in May, as COO and now the CEO of the Corporation.
ExecutiveBiz: Tell us a little bit about Capstone.
Rich White: Capstone was incorporated in Virginia in 1986. William Moore came to the WDC region, brought his IT experience, and started the company. He grew it through the 8(a) program into the small business program.
He was joined by Tom Madison, co-owner of the company and COO, and together they graduated Capstone from the small business program and grew it into the small large business that it is today.
Capstone was on the INC 5000 list four years in a row, and won an emerging growth award in the $50 to $70 million category. We support clients in over 20 states and multiple international locations.
In terms of the areas of focus for Capstone, we have three; Information Solutions (IS), Training Exercise Solutions (TES), and Strategy, Plans and Operations (SPO). On the Information Solutions side we do a lot of software development, network engineering, IT governance, and IT O&M.
Rich White: For me, the key is going to be the convergence of those competencies I described, especially our competencies in training and information solutions.
The Department of Defense is dealing with the task of preparing a generation of trainees who have grown up in the digital age while dealing with the challenge of training resources being fixed or constrained. They see technology as a way to enable collective modular unit training among geographically separated units.
In the next 5 years, the DOD learning environment will increasingly employ virtual training environments as part of resident and nonresident learning events for individuals and groups.
The tools that will be needed to create these environments cover a broad range of capabilities including simulation, simulators, game-based scenarios, virtual worlds, massive multiplayer online games and others.
All of these learning and training mediums are connected as they converge with IT trends. Capstone is developing solutions to meet these future needs.
Rich White: Our single largest market space is in the Department of Defense and primarily in Army and Joint Forces relatedâ€‘activities. We certainly want to take the work that we have done in those domains and transport them across the rest of the DOD into the Navy, Air Force, and the Marine Corps.
Beyond that, we do have a presence in various civilian organizations, and we look to take our competencies into other civilian agencies and vice versa.
One of the nice things about being where we are is we have the ability to identify future customer needs and develop solutions rapidly to meet those needs.
ExecutiveBiz: How is it different leading Capstone than working in leadership positions at a major contractor like Harris?Â
Rich White: In some ways, it’s the same. The dayâ€‘toâ€‘day issues you run into â€“ whether you’re a big company or smaller company â€“ I think are the same. Big companies, in many ways, are a collection of smaller groups that run like smaller companies.
In a smaller company, you wear many hats. The functional lines are blurred. You have to be a generalist and do what you’ve got to do to get the job done.
While you may have deep experience in a specific knowledge area, you’ve got to have a general sense of what’s going on across all the elements of the company. That is different, but for me, it’s fun and challenging.
Rich White: Taking the knowledge Iâ€™ve accumulated and being part of building something for the long term. I’ve always enjoyed when I could build something. When you are done, you can look at it and say, we did that.
Whether it’s back in my engineering days, where built things, or an opportunity to take a really firm foundation of a company that’s been around for a long time, and working with a great team build a whole new chapter in its story.
I’m excited about looking back five years from now and saying, we did that.
ExecutiveBiz: Who are some of the other leaders at Capstone that are helping drive growth?
Rich White: Sheila Andahazy runs the IS part of the business and John McNally runs the TES and SPO parts. We’re currently looking for someone to come in and head up our strategic management and business development activities.
Our CTO, Dave Magnone is focused on the solutions side of the business. We’ve had a strong legacy in services and we want to build off of our mission knowledge to expand the solutions side of the business.