Ted Davies, chief executive officer of Altamira Technologies and a former Wash100 Award recipient, a high-end engineering and analytics company focused on the national security market, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding how the company has continued its growth strategy by adding new leadership, integrating advanced technologies and winning contracts across the federal sector over the last year. He also discussed how COVID-19 has transformed the workplace and culture, as well as where Altamira will make new progress moving into 2021.
“We’ve worked really hard to build a great leadership team and a very people focused culture at Altamira. The GovCon community has continued to pull together through these tough times and focused on continuing to deliver on the mission of government, and I’m really proud to be part of the community and leader in the field. I think we have exciting times ahead.“
ExecutiveBiz: With Altamira adding Craig Reed and other top executives, how has Altamira gone about constructing the changes to its leadership team?
“We went through an ownership transition last summer from prior investors to new private equity investors; post-transaction I had the opportunity to build a new leadership team. We started by hiring a really great chief financial officer, Adam Omar, earlier in the year and we also added Carolyn McConnell, as our chief human capital officer.
Later on, Craig Reed joined as president and chief growth officer, complementing our chief operations officer, Blaine Worthington, who has been Altamira for more than seven years.
We focus heavily on organic growth. As a side job, Craig is the president-elect of the Association for Corporate Growth. That, and his substantial experience working on acquisitions in his prior roles, gives him a unique viewpoint into the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) world. M&A will be in our future as well. Our current investors asked us to define the path forward, and they would like to put more money to work to continue to build this national security platform out.
The attributes that we looked for in the leaders we added included big company experience, and an understanding of how larger organizations can run effectively and grow and scale. They also needed to understand how private equity backed smaller companies work. Every one of our new appointees have both large and small company experience.
Our focus can be summed up in just two words: scale and agility. We want to be able to deliver with deep capabilities and be agile in the way that we think and the way we operate. We want to adapt quickly to market trends, not only by bringing new offerings, but also bringing in new partners to solve the latest mission challenges.
I'm proud of the leadership team. It’s a really well integrated group and we're all very excited to work together to continue to build Altamira.
At the board level, Altamira added two board members. One is David Wajsgras, an ex-leader at Raytheon. Dave brings a lot of experience and understanding of the marketplace, specifically within the intelligence community and space.
The second board member we added was Ron Moultrie. Ron has been an executive across the Department of Defense (DoD) and Intelligence Community (IC) for a number of years. He recently retired and is still very well connected. Ron provides added ex-government leader experience and Dave brings added ex-industry leader experience to our Board.
Our leadership team and Board is composed of a very diverse group of thinkers. We get access to new thinking, new partners and new technologies on a regular basis from our board and executive leadership.“
ExecutiveBiz: How will the new team be able to capitalize on the latest trends in the federal market?
“To answer that question, you have to first look at the major trends. Our mission is to help the DoD and the IC fight and win a 21st century war, which will be fought in space and cyberspace. In this environment there will be a heavy reliance on automated intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and sophisticated analytics. Those are all areas of strength for Altamira.
We’re incredibly well positioned to help DoD and the IC transition from the way the world was ten years ago to where the world is headed over the next decade or more. Our mission is supported by our core contracts in space and battlespace awareness. We are a leading provider to the National Air and Space and Intelligence Center. That is the foundational Space Intelligence Center supporting DoD and IC commanders and decision makers.
Gen. John Raymond has already announced that there’ll be a National Space Intelligence Center, and we’re extremely well positioned to support this key component of the U.S. Space Force. We do extensive Analytics work and are adept at applying AI/ML techniques. We explore new technologies, conduct scientific evaluations and research, implement new solutions, and provide operations in support of the space mission.
We're also supporting the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), doing work which includes image recognition, automated roads detection, vessel tracking and more, and applying AI/ML to support that mission.
Additionally, we're working with the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence through an Air Force contract to look at the latest techniques and technologies that can be utilized to support warfighters in an ever changing threat landscape.
Another important part of our business is cyber operations. We do work for the National Security Agency (NSA) across a range of mission programs and are now pivoting towards the DoD including the U.S. Cyber command, and cyber centers of excellence in the military services.
When we look at the trends in national security, they’re all areas of strength for us that are increasingly in demand across DoD and IC and we have a growing pipeline of opportunities that we’re now prosecuting.
Acquisition trends are also important to consider, such as the reliance on indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts. Many agencies have been working to create their own contracts and we have a growing number of contract vehicles giving us great access to the market. We have capabilities, marketplace presence and access new ideas, which is really important for our long-term success.“
ExecutiveBiz: How will the company's recent wins help to advance innovation for the company's core programs moving forward?
“As a strong midsize player, we are very careful about how and where to invest in research and development (R&D) every single year. As we look at things that are happening in the market, we’re always looking forward to seeing how we can put ourselves ahead of trends and opportunities.
We have made investments in AI/ML and built algorithms to demonstrate our ability to conduct this work on critical national security missions. We’ve also begun to show how customers can utilize the cloud for some functions. As they need to burst and scale rapidly at times, they don’t have to continue to build a complete on-prem capability; they can and do utilize capacity in the classified cloud.“
ExecutiveBiz: What are your expectations and plans for Altamira's immediate future in a post-COVID market?
“We outlined three priorities once COVID-19 hit in mid-March, to help us navigate our business through the pandemic. The first was to do everything we could to support our people, and be as flexible as we could to protect our workforce.
The second was to protect our company, and ensure that we could get adequate cash flow to pay our bills. The third was to position ourselves for long term success and growth. We focused on bidding and winning as the year progressed to build momentum.
I'm happy to say that we’ve been successful in all three. Our company has come through people wise. We’ve been extremely fortunate that while we’ve had a few cases, our people have recovered and the virus has not spread among our team.
We've won multiple task orders, including a couple of larger opportunities, and are building strong momentum going into 2021. I told our board that Q2 and Q3 would be relatively tough to navigate, but by Q4, we would be growing and doing great things, and we are. In 2021, we expect advanced momentum and growth.
Because we’re in the National Defense and Intelligence market, and have a large proportion of our people working within classified environments, we’ve been in a hybrid work mode most of the year. Some people are in the office and some are working from home. We continue to put every measure we can in place to protect people that have to go to an office, including mandatory wearing of masks, extensive social distancing and deep cleaning.
We’ve been as flexible as we can be on the work schedule. We really embraced the hybrid model in order to continue to support our critical mission customers. As a frontline national security company, that’s the best option we have, and we will continue to do so as we roll in 2021.“
ExecutiveBiz: Can you shed some light on the initiatives that ACT-IAC is undergoing to assist in IT modernization for federal agencies and the ongoing development of emerging technology?
“I am the chairman of the Industry Advisory Council (IAC), which is the corporate counterpart to the American Council of Technology (ACT). We’ve gone through a virtual strategic planning process this summer to reorient the organization to succeed in the new world that we’re entering.
We’ve done about half a dozen large events over the last few months with a very successful turnout and great feedback. ACT IAC a thriving organization that does great work bringing government and industry together to advance and accelerate the mission of government. That’s an exciting thing.
One of my priorities right now is to draw the intelligence community closer to ACT-IAC. The organization is predominantly focused on civilian government and some DoD, with some IC initiatives. I see opportunities for learning from each other.
A lot of great things are being done in the IC and a lot of great things happen in civilian government and DoD. I want to try to bring those best practices and lessons learned together to create a synergy between the two. We’ll work toward that in 2021.“