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Executive Spotlight: Shawn Purvis, President and CEO at QinetiQ US

Executive Spotlight: Shawn Purvis, President and CEO at QinetiQ US - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Shawn Purvis, president and CEO at QinetiQ’s U.S. Group as well as a two-time Wash100 Award recipient, spoke with ExecutiveBiz about joining the company and becoming its president and CEO as well as the core values she believes in to build a strong company culture.

In addition, Purvis also discussed her growth and acquisition strategies heading into 2022 and the challenges facing her customers and U.S. warfighters to have new capabilities to maintain advantage in an ever-evolving information age during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.

“We have an incredible team of people. As CEO, one of my principal jobs is to provide channels for personal growth and empowerment of our workforce. I honestly believe that anything is possible when people feel they have a voice.

An idea for a new product or service has no value if it is not shared. I am focused on creating a diverse and inclusive culture that creates channels to enhance communication and collaboration across the company. Every employee at QinetiQ is a valued member of the team.”

You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Shawn Purvis below:

ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on being named President and CEO of QinetiQ U.S.! What can you tell us about your decision to join and lead the company?

“I’ve spent my whole career in government contracting (GovCon). I’ve had great tenures with Lockheed Martin, SAIC and Northrop Grumman. I had the opportunity in the first part of my career to do profit and loss and focus on successfully growing a mission critical intelligence business organization in support of our warfighters for the first 20 years of my time in the federal sector.

Over the last five to seven years, I had the opportunity to learn corporate governance, including operations, digital transformation, cyber and business systems. I had the pleasure of working under the tutelage of phenomenal CEOs who helped me develop an understanding of the necessities to create a culture of high performing teams and drive mission lead capabilities.

When the opportunity arose to become QinetiQ’s new president and CEO, it brought all of my experience together. I can transform a company, in partnership with a phenomenal group of QinetiQ employees, into a world class provider of innovative technical solutions in support of the customer.

One of the first things that caught my eye with QinetiQ was the initial value statement and the value proposition to the customer, which is the mission lead. We are a mission driven engineering company with a heavy focus on innovation in support of warfighters.

I was also excited about the culture. QinetiQ had previously been a partner of mine. In working with them, I remembered how they had delivered. I remembered their performance and some of the people even a decade later. The opportunity to come in and join an organization that was in the process of revamping itself in the US market was particularly interesting and was an exciting opportunity for me.

We deliver multi-domain solutions that enable our customers to overcome the next generation of threats, increase force projection and reduce cognitive burden. Together, these play a growing and significant role supporting missions by protecting our customers’ critical assets and the lives of our warfighters.

We are committed to ensuring that reliability, predictability, and the delivery of quality products are synonymous with the QinetiQ US name. That each employee is respected, that diversity and inclusion is embedded in our DNA and that our employees are valued and excited to be a part of this mission.  That is my ‘Why’”

ExecutiveBiz: How would you describe your growth and acquisition strategies heading into 2022?

“In the U.S. market, QinetiQ is very well known across its robotics and autonomous sensors. Our sensor phenomenology is critically supportive for our U.S. Army customers, especially across the domain of Force Protection and advanced robotics. We have been years long partners in taking on some of the Army Research Labs hardest challenges.

Partnering and design from concept to prototype to production in areas such as Hyperspectral sensors and next generation advanced bomb suits. We also have strong capabilities in the test and evaluation and sensor and payload development for our customers across the DoD and Intel arenas.

Our growth opportunities are to take on our current portfolio, into adjacent markets across processing, exploitation and dissemination of systems, sensors and data in support of the warfighter. We will continue to advance and design the next generation of robotics and look to expand into the areas of modeling and simulation through organic and inorganic growth.

QinetiQ US has a commitment to transformative technologies that provide operational advantage to our customers. We are aligning our team and investments to support our country against the rising threats from peer adversaries, in the areas of advanced robotics, autonomy, machine learning, ISR and multi-domain operations.

Our footprint will also expand into core areas of cyber and IT modernization. The protection of our platforms, networks and infrastructure is a core area of growth for us through organic and inorganic means.

We will look for acquisitions that we think are a good fit both strategically and culturally for our company. Our strategy to become a disruptive mid-tier company will drive our M&A activity and result in a high performing multi-billion-dollar company over the next five years.

The other thing I’d mention is that we consider QinetiQ to be a global organization. We continue to partner across the world with our QinetiQ peers in the United Kingdom and Australia, or even Canada, Belgium and Germany. We are looking at partnering together to bring those capabilities into the US market and share our capabilities with our allies across the rest of our profile.”

ExecutiveBiz: With robotic capabilities surging into 2025 and other key technological areas expanding rapidly, how will mission critical sensing technologies benefit our warfighters to address the greater modernization challenges for our military branches?

“There is greater emphasis today, more than any other time, to create solutions that help analysts and operators deal with ever-increasing amounts of data. smart sensors, where edge analytics are integrated in, will help interpret the battlefield to support decision making.

We see some of that happening already in the integration of multisensory capability and navigation for autonomous systems. In the future, we will have greater levels of man-machine teaming.

Smart sensors will help reduce analytic fatigue by monitoring and identifying targets and threats, operating within the IoT, routing data instantly to weapon systems, reducing the kill chain and achieving information dominance.”

ExecutiveBiz: With the significant data challenges occurring on a global scale, how will QinetiQ deliver solutions and new capabilities for your customers to be able to evolve and maintain their advantage in an ever-evolving information age?

“That’s a great question. As you know, a significant portion of QinetiQ’s business is focused on Research and Development and deploying that innovation to the warfighter.

We work side-by-side with our customers driving next generation technologies to support the future of multi-domain operations like JADC2, force protection and Hyperspectral sensor analysis.

We operate some of the most advanced land, sea and air ranges in the world, and our test and evaluation capabilities are unmatched.”

ExecutiveBiz: What do you see as the most critical challenges facing those in the federal sector as cybersecurity continues to rise in importance and cyber hygiene becomes a necessity for all companies and even more critical at the national security level?

“Well, we all must do our part as a link in the chain so to speak. Industry is a critical partner to the US Government and its Allies.

We must figure out, as a community, how to share threat and incident information to strengthen our security and thwart bad actors and state-sponsored hackers that steal government and trade secrets, and thereby weaken our nation. Cyber must be designed in the beginning of the product lifecycle to reduce costs and increase survivability.”

ExecutiveBiz: With artificial intelligence and machine learning impacting most industries and the U.S. military dramatically as we move forward, what has impressed you the most about the technology’s capabilities to improve decision making across the federal sector and all areas?

“Although we have a long way to go, we have seen some promising technologies that have operational merit come out of programs like USD(I)’s MAVEN program, DARPA and OSD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

Digital Engineering and modeling simulation give both the customer and the contractor maximum flexibility to design right and build once.  I believe synthetic representations of data still have a lot of promise to fill the void of real-world examples.  They’ll become a foundational technology for things like T&E, exercise support, etc.

But at some point, we’re going to need to think through the boundaries where you have machines assisting, and where they are performing routine low risk tasks unsupervised. QinetiQ is using digital engineering to reduce risk and increase the validity of the product through all phases of the lifecycle.”

ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values you believe in to create a strong company culture that focuses on collaboration and transforming how integrated solutions are thought about in the federal sector?

“I’ve been here for a month, and I have to say the people of QinetiQ are phenomenal. They’re multi-disciplined in their backgrounds and they bring their authentic self to work each and every day.  At QinetiQ we believe that every role has value, every employee and function are critical to the success of the company.

As we transform, we are resolute in the belief that we can create an organization that has an integrated strategy across all our functional domains, combined with our business to really allow individuals to bring their full self to work.

As we talk about company culture, that’s something that really attracted me to QinetiQ. We talk about career development and our employee value proposition as well as what it means to be at a company like QinetiQ.

With QinetiQ, you’re innovating through engineering. You are hands-on in the development of products in manufacturing and you’re at the heart of working with our customers. At the same time, you have an opportunity to grow in different roles that are supporting the bigger mission across our entire organization.

In the first sessions that I’ve had with our teammates, they are fiercely curious. They are customer obsessed. Those two words stand out to me. We are really trying to ensure that we deliver to the heart of the mission. The team is so proud to be at the heart of the mission, we know that we do matters.

It makes me ask about the possibilities. It’s an exciting organization made up of a really exciting group of men and women, who are absolutely passionate about delivering the highest quality of capabilities and support for our customers.

Also, I want to mention that one of the things that QinetiQ is also very passionate about is our efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion. We just recently celebrated our women leaders during women’s history month. Be on the lookout for us celebrating more of our employees and teams across the organization.

As we increase our hiring across all facets of the business, our employee value proposition endures across a highly competitive employee market. We are investing in recruiting and retaining our employees and optimizing our employee experience to further empower our employees.

We have an incredible team of people. As CEO, one of my principal jobs is to provide channels for personal growth and empowerment of our workforce. I honestly believe that anything is possible when people feel they have a voice.

An idea for a new product or service has no value if it is not shared. I am focused on creating a diverse and inclusive culture that creates channels to enhance communication and collaboration across the company. Every employee at QinetiQ is a valued member of the team.”

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Written by William McCormick

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