Amy Gilliland, president of General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) and four-time Wash100 Award winner, spoke with ExecutiveBiz last week to discuss GDIT’s third-quarter results and the key tools to their organic growth.
In addition, Gilliland shared her insights into the importance of establishing a company culture and developing long-term growth of her employees as well as her approach of zero-trust architecture to meet the challenges of the cyber landscape, GDIT’s efforts to address its clients IT modernization initiatives and more.
“When you can create a culture that your employees tell their friends and other professionals about as a place to progress and earn certifications, that’s the best recruiting tool in the market. In fact, about 20 percent of our new employee hires were from referrals. With the right culture, the right employees will come to work for your business.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Amy Gilliland below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on a very successful third quarter! What can you tell us about the core drivers of success for GDIT this past quarter, including significant contract wins such as the recent Patent and Trademark Office award win? What do you see as the core trends that are driving GDIT’s specific growth?
“First and foremost, our third-quarter results reflect and are indicative of the kind of growth that we’ve seen year-to-date for GDIT. Thus far, we’ve enjoyed a five percent growth in revenue. I would like to highlight that we have secured about $4 billion that’s in protest at the moment so we have big contracts still coming to term and we’ll realize that growth next year.
However, a key factor in driving that growth for us is our flexibility. We’re an extremely agile company. That’s extremely important. A lot of people look at our company as this nine billion dollar behemoth, but our operations are built on agility and our people have done a beautiful job reacting to and supporting our customers through the emerging requirements and many of the challenges that we didn’t anticipate this year.
That’s been a significant part of our growth. That’s one theme that has driven our growth and the other one I’d like to mention has to do with the current administration’s new focus on cyber and cloud capabilities. As we come out of the pandemic, there’s a renewed focus on cybersecurity and those requirements along with cloud requirements are right in our sweet spot as a company.
As an example, we won a contract from the U.S. Southern Command called SCITES – . That is a new customer for us and we stood up their cyber operations within 28 days. In those 28 days, we had to deliver for them a 12×7 response organization for cyber threats and then a 24 x 7 within three months. That’s a prime example of the cyber expertise that we have in house here.
In addition, we have a lot of cloud expertise within GDIT. The Patent and Trademark Office contract that you mentioned is a hybrid cloud contract, which is a great opportunity for us to help accelerate the U.S. PTO’s movement to the cloud. Speed is a major factor coming out of this so we were able to leverage our cloud experience for that contract.
I think developing those technical capabilities across multiple contract awards and the changes brought on by COVID and the work we’ve done for our customers has really driven our growth, especially in the last quarter.”
ExecutiveBiz: How has GDIT established its company culture to drive success and customer satisfaction while also building your employees’ careers towards long-term growth and success in such a competitive industry as tech? What is your approach to attract new talent and the benefits that GDIT offers to retain them for long careers?
“I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. As people, we’re all contemplating where we would like to spend our time and we’ve become a lot more aware of that concept. At the end of the day, people generally want to work at a place where their efforts matter, that work is appreciated and there is a career path of growth with a future.
You have to inculcate that concept into an organization. That’s something that we took seriously even before the pandemic and the question for us was how do we drive a culture someone is supported from their first day and we as an organization are always thinking about next steps for them.
We have goal sheets to represent how we measure ourselves and every year we’ve had a goal to underscore that commitment to development. For this year, we’re focusing on technical certifications and we want to increase them by ten percent over the next year. We have 29,000 employees across our organization and we’ve already reached 95 percent of our goal.
Whenever I have the opportunity to directly interact with our customers or employees, they tell me those goals matter to them. That represents an investment in our employees’ careers and they recognize that, but it’s a never-ending battle.
We just spoke about the cybersecurity capabilities that we provide to our customers, but those capabilities are always evolving and we need to keep delivering those requirements to our customers. I have to continue to help my employees develop their skill sets. Over time, it’s a win for our customers and our employees. We’re winning, but there is always room for improvement as we move forward.
One of the other things that I talk about a lot is internal mobility. For me, that’s either a new job or a promotion, right? I’m a big believer in a wealth of experience and enabling people to learn and have different experiences on the job and in other roles. We have a 42 percent increase in our internal mobility in 2021 and I think by any set of measurements, you can see the impact of that.
When you can create a culture that your employees tell their friends and other professionals about as a place to progress and earn certifications, that’s the best recruiting tool in the market. In fact, about 20 percent of our new employee hires were from referrals. With the right culture, the right employees will come to work for your business.
Another huge factor of internal mobility is that we have thousands of contracts. We have recompetes and extensions. We win, we lose some contracts, but it’s always when you lose that people think about internal mobility because the contract is coming to an end. How can you find a job? Will they move on to the contractor who won, or how can we keep our talented workforce with the company for the next contract win?
We have tools to train those employees because those skills and experience they have for that specific job and customer can apply to a lot of other opportunities. If we are all sharing our resources, we’re all going to be on the same page and benefit across the entire company. That kind of thinking has to come from your leadership and then the trickle-down effect occurs.
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ExecutiveBiz: From a technical perspective and as we look at zero-trust architecture, how is GDIT taking a different approach to move beyond thinking about prevention and compliance against cyber threats but to move on to resilience and address the challenges of the current cyber landscape that is only becoming more important by the day?
“President Biden put zero-trust right into the middle of the top priorities for customers’ efforts in digital modernization. We see a ton of interest in zero-trust. At the same time, our customers or other federal organizations don’t have years to adopt these capabilities following the executive orders from the current administration.
There is absolutely a strong sense of urgency and a lot of customers want ready and deployable solutions immediately. They want a demonstration on how this works. We’ve been ahead of the game because even though President Biden just put zero-trust on everyone’s radar, it has been a top priority for our customers for a long time.
We’ve been developing and delivering solutions for zero trust across DOD, federal and civilian agencies as well as the intelligence community for some time and we’ve learned a lot. Not only that, but we’ve been delivering zero trust for ourselves and for a company of our size, that has been a significant challenge and quite the journey.
One of the most practical examples I can give is a recent Other Transactional Authority (OTA) that we won from DISA to accelerate the use of procuring technologies to get them into customer environments. The concept used to be that we wouldn’t specifically think about the requirements for two years, and then we’d talk about them for two years, and then get the concept into the customers’ hands six years down the line.
In the modern-day, we don’t have that kind of time anymore. Now, the concept is to demonstrate a solution and build the prototype as soon as possible and let us see through agile processes if the concept will work in the customer’s environment. If it doesn’t work, you adjust.
If it does work, we can move forward from that point. For instance, we won the opportunity to deliver something called ICAM (Identity Credentialing Access Management), which is a critical piece of zero-trust, that determines who has access to the system itself and what they directly have access to.
We won a technology bake-off to earn the opportunity before we could take the ICAM tool to our lab where we were able to build a solution within 45 days and deploy it for the customer and is now going to be the enterprise solution for DOD’s zero-trust architecture.
In fact, the Pentagon is immensely focused on JADC2 right now. As we built this ICAM solution for DOD, we predicated on its use inside the U.S. borders and in the regions where we need a solid foundation of communication, shared data and information, which was a key part of the solution that we developed.
That’s a great example of how zero-trust is making an impact in action and the tenacity that our customers are now pushing their capabilities to deliver such solutions as rapidly as possible. We’re really enjoying the feedback we’ve received from our customers because they need something that’s ready now.”
ExecutiveBiz: How has GDIT continued to drive its success in the public health sector to continue to adapt to the technical changes that AI, cloud and other emerging technologies have created? How will your pursuit of advanced IT solutions and IT modernization efforts benefit your employee’s goals and your customers’ missions?
“Our federal health portfolio is enormous to say the least. It’s about a billion dollars in value with roughly 5,000 employees if you include subcontractors. We have been in the federal health space for decades.
As you said, a lot of these federal health agencies have been under dramatic duress during the pandemic, especially in terms of responding to new and emerging requirements. As a result, technology has been a major piece of this.
Because of our history and decades of experience in the market, we understand the customers and the environment they have been working in for the last two years. We were able to use our agility that we discussed earlier as well as our partnerships with technology companies.
It has been a combination of household name and emerging technologies along with our agility capabilities that have helped our customers understand the support we provide to them.
For instance, we help the Department of Veteran Affairs run its service desk. The VA supports 500,000 veterans across the country.
When the pandemic hit, the service desk went from a two-minute wait to hours and hours overnight because all these employers were figuring out how to do their jobs under extreme stress. We were able to quickly deploy robotic process automation into the environment to help reduce that time. That is a real-time response in action.
There are numerous examples that I could provide, but all of these agencies have one thing in common despite their unique situations. They all need to streamline the process, and they need a tool to meet the emerging requirement at hand. We operate on the concept that whatever the problem is, we’re able to support it.
My final takeaway would be to stress that we are using emerging technology and decades of experience together to fix our customers’ problems. I’m really proud of our federal health team because they were able to support federal agencies during such an intense time.”