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Executive Spotlight: Mark Drever, President and CEO of Xcelerate Solutions

Executive Spotlight: Mark Drever, President and CEO of Xcelerate Solutions - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Mark Drever, president and CEO of Xcelerate Solutions, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the company’s latest growth initiatives in the national security, law enforcement and defense sectors and how those areas and goals from U.S. government agencies drive its business.

In addition, Drever also discussed the core values that are most pivotal to Xcelerate Solutions and how the company’s teams have developed their workflow and drive success in a competitive market as intense as the government arena. In addition, he also provided a look into the work the company does in the greater community during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.

“I have been in this business for nearly 25 years and I always stay close to my clients and work really hard to become their trusted advisor.  Once you gain their trust, your clients will call you when they need help and I learned a long time ago, always answer your phone when a client calls, even on nights and weekends or you may miss an opportunity.”

You can read the full interview with Mark Drever below:

ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the company’s recent growth initiatives and how you’re driving value for your customers through contract awards, acquisitions and other aspects across the federal sector?

Mark Drever: “We founded Xcelerate Solutions on Sept. 11th, 2009 with the specific focus, to help make America safer. Historically, we all know that date with a great deal of tragedy. We selected that date to launch our company deliberately because we’re passionate our country’s safety and we wanted something positive to look forward to knowing that we were making a difference

Everything that we do at Xcelerate Solutions is aligned toward that mission and it’s why our organization exists. Our growth strategies are driven by our nation’s National Security Defense and Law Enforcement agendas.

Xcelerate Solutions’ focus is in supporting the Defense, Intelligence and National Law Enforcement sectors. We provide Strategic Consulting, Digital Transformation and Security services in support of our client’s mission.

Our growth strategy has traditionally been to land and expands, one client at a time I call it the ‘Lily Pad’ approach. You secure one contract and based on the contract, you become familiar with the client and understand their mission needs.

You follow the money and can see the upcoming initiatives down the pipeline, which creates the opportunity to jump to the next lilypad and to create your next opportunity. Over time and from jump to jump, you see significant exponential growth as those opportunities mature and we move downstream and create a bigger footprint.

At Xcelerate Solutions, our growth strategy has been driven by where we foresee the industry heading and how industry will also influence the landscape over the next few years.  We always try to skate to the puck and our strategy is always to stay two or three moves ahead of our competition.

At some point in my career, I decided to be heavily focused on one domain, which has proven to be the defense and national security realm. For instance, Trusted Workforce 2.0 is a massive initiative that’s moving across the federal government right now.

Xcelerate Solutions is a thought leader in that space. Another huge growth strategy for us was to find deals one sigma removed which is where we go involved in the personnel vetting work that the FBI does with the National Name Check program.

Our growth strategy has been to find work that is based in our core expertise, and we are aggressively going after work in those spaces.  That strategy proved very effective in beating PAE for the National Name Check program with the FBI, a five-year, nearly $50M deal full and open opportunity.

The federal government has moved a lot of work from a time material to a fixed price model, which has also been a key part of our growth initiatives. We’re targeting deals that are fixed price where we can value engineer our pricing strategy to make us very competitive against much larger companies that have much pricier cost models.

I believe there’s a sweet spot for mid-market companies like Xcelerate that have big business capabilities as well as small business agility and pricing. At the end of the day, an overwhelming majority of our leaders have come from the best and brightest large businesses in the industry and we can solve and write winning proposals with the best of them.

I have been in this business for nearly 25 years and I always stay close to my clients and work really hard to become their trusted advisor.  Once you gain their trust, your clients will call you when they need help and I learned a long time ago, always answer your phone when a client calls, even on nights and weekends or you may miss an opportunity.

I’ll put our team at Xcelerate Solutions against anyone in this sector, large, mid, or small. We have a dedicated proposal team that doesn’t have the same delivery responsibilities as many of the larger firms put on their staff to write proposals on nights and weekends.

Our combined focus is purely on helping us up our win percentage on proposals and to drive value for our customers and partners alike. All of this allows Xcelerate Solutions to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and to punch above our weight class.”

ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to your company’s culture? How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market?

Mark Drever: “In my own career and experiences, I consider myself to be a ‘core values’ kind of executive. I believe in finding your ‘why’ and it needs to be much more meaningful than just making money.  I can make money doing just about anything but that is not what gets me out of bed in the morning. Knowing that we are helping make our country safer and creating opportunities for people that didn’t exist before they engaged with Xcelerate is what keeps me motivated.

The bigger we get, the more responsibility I have to each of our employees and their families to keep showing up and to keep leading with purpose.  In general, if you’re interviewing with someone at Xcelerate Solutions you’ll be discussing your technical competency with our team.

If you make it to me as a part of the interview process, I’m typically looking at new people in terms of their fit within our company and the core values that drive them. I will take hard work, coachability and dedication to the mission over someone with an Ivy League MBA any day of the week. I love people with hustle, grit and common sense

There are people on our team who are much smarter than me that ask the technical questions we need to know in areas like business processes, agile development or DevSecOps, etc. For me, core values is equally as important because we always do the right thing. It’s not a sometimes situation. We always do the right thing.

Xcelerate Solutions embraces cultural diversity. We’ve been fortunate to bring several female executives onto our team over the past few years. We do our absolute best to stay current with the times and respond to the challenges in cultural environments created by the pandemic and recent social issues as well while not losing what makes us special

We work had to be respectful and responsive to the different viewpoints that our people may feel strongly about. We listen and we do what we say (two other core values of our company).  When you do those two things, even when opinions may differ  so long as we are always hiring the best individual for the job, we will have a very diverse workforce.  I learned this while working at IBM, one of the most diverse companies in the world and it has never done me wrong.

I think we bring all these things together and we’re really looking for people who are mission-focused. They’re people-oriented and want to advance their careers and be a part of a highly ethical and hardworking organization. My perspective is that if you have those aspects, we can teach you the other parts of the business, but the core foundation is required to be an Xcelerator.

Personally, I come from a long family line of service. I’m the first Drever in my family to graduate from college. My father was in the U.S. Navy as an aircraft mechanic in Vietnam. My mother was a nurse who served her community. Both my grandparents served in the Army and were in  World War II. My Uncle was in the Air Force and my Stepfather was a Marine. All I ever wanted to do from a young age was serve.

I have a huge affinity for anyone who serves our country and wants to put on a uniform, which includes anybody that’s willing to take a civilian position and support our country as a matter of service. I believe it’s my social responsibility to embrace people who are transitioning out of the military and into civilian life, especially if it’s their first real experience with industry.

It’s not a burden, but a responsibility to ensure that our veterans and service members have the best possible first experience in our industry. It’s proven to be very rewarding as well as being the right thing to do to help them and their families move onto the next chapter of their lives in the federal sector. I believe it’s essential to have that pay it forward mentality for not only our veterans but in life.”

ExecutiveBiz: An important part of a company having strong business ethics in the federal sector is about helping and giving back to the greater community. Can you speak to the various charities and work with other organizations that your company does to make a difference and how people can get involved?

Mark Drever: “At Xcelerate Solutions, we have a program that we’re very proud of called ‘Xcelerate Cares.’ It was not my idea originally, but it was from one of our employees that rallied everyone together after a lot of people openly said they wanted to contribute back to the greater community.

There’s actually a team of people who work at Xcelerate that volunteer their nights and weekends to give back. We typically promote Xcelerate Cares to all our employees so they understand how important Xcelerate Cares is to our company and how they can become involved if they have their own ideas or passions about how to give back to the community.

Our perspective is based on how can we help and support those initiatives because we’ve done things over the last 12 plus years that have run the gamut. For instance, I have done everything from significant contributions to STEM education and internship programs. We’ve done Toys for Tots and worked with the Wounded Warrior Project. Xcelerate Solutions has accomplished a lot and given back a lot to the community.

I believe leaders need to lead by example so this year when asked by St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital to co-chair the 60th birthday celebration with Teri Carr, I simply had to say ‘yes.’  on the event will be held on June 11th in Washington DC to raise $1 million dollars for an amazing organization.

When I learned about how Danny Thomas started St. Jude amid the civil rights movement in the 1960s, it resonated with me. I have a blended, racially diverse family. St. Jude was the first fully integrated children’s hospital in the South, defying racial inequities in health care. If you look at what’s happened with racial injustice over the past several years, you can see that while we’ve come a tremendous way since the 1960s, there’s still a long way to go.

St. Jude embodies what America is all about: a melting pot. It shouldn’t matter what race, religion or socio-economic position a child is in when it comes to receiving treatment for cancer. St. Jude levels the playing field. The more I learned about St. Jude’s mission, the more I thought, “I can’t afford not to do this. It’s my social responsibility.

 60 Years ago the mortality rate for a child with cancer was roughly 80 percent. Now, the rate is as low as 20 percent. They’ve been able to do some amazing things and I’m very passionate about supporting the hospital. I can’t say enough good things about St. Jude’s and I hope you don’t hesitate to get involved yourself.”

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Written by William McCormick

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