Scott Recinos, senior vice president of homeland security market at LMI, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding his strategic goals and potential new markets for the rest of 2022 as well as the company’s core values that drive its winning culture, and some of the unique challenges on the business side of innovation during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full interview with Scott Recinos below.
ExecutiveBiz: What are your strategic goals for the coming year? What do you hope to accomplish and any new markets that you’re keeping an eye on in the federal sector?
Scott Recinos: “First, we are looking to maintain our team’s record of outstanding performance for our Department of Homeland Security customers throughout this year. Last year, we were honored to receive across-the-board “exceptional” contractor performance ratings on all our prime contracts with DHS.
This is a real testament to our team, as our customers are required to provide additional justification (including more paperwork!) to assess our performance at that level. Priority #1 for our team is maintaining that culture of excellence for our customers.
From a homeland security market perspective, I believe we have a lot to offer agencies across the department. We are interested in expanding our digital analytics, supply chain management, and test and evaluation support to US Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Office of Science and Technology at the headquarters level.
We are also looking to expand our partnerships with mission-driven small businesses and team with them on upcoming work at DHS.
Corporately, we are focused on employee retention. We pride ourselves on finding and retaining the right people. People who know LMI know that when they partner with us, they are getting experienced, dedicated professionals (many of whom have advanced degrees and many years of experience).
Our senior leadership team is constantly looking at ways to lead the government consulting pack regarding benefits, culture, engagement, and growth opportunities. We go to great lengths to differentiate ourselves from our competitors—and I think we’ve done a great job doing that over the last 60 years.
As a small example, our flexible time off policy has allowed us to attract and retain folks who value work-life balance. Juggling a modern family with a demanding job is made a little easier when you don’t have to stress about leave banks and accruing time.
We also offer what I believe is one of the most generous tuition reimbursement packages in the industry—up to $15,000 per year to pursue education and training.”
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?
Scott Recinos: “One of the things I love about working at LMI is that we actually adhere to our core values. We have five core values: develop people, take an enterprise-wide view, embrace conflict, operate in the gray area, and collaborate constantly.
I can confidently say that our leadership team is thinking about and working with those values every day, not only for our customers but for our colleagues. I already mentioned some aspects of how we are developing people, with our flexible time off and tuition reimbursement programs, but let me give you another example.
We decided a couple years ago to move to a matrixed organization. Why? Because instead of asking how we can do more with less to maximize profits, we instead asked how can we do more with more? How can we better serve our customers?
Instead of “silos of excellence” as some pejoratively call a traditional hierarchy, we purposely built collaboration, enterprise-wide thinking, gray-area operations, and conflict into our organizational structure.
When you’re a consultant on-site at, let’s say, Customs and Border Protection, you don’t just fall under the purview of someone like me who has responsibility for the homeland security market. You also fall under what we call a “service line” manager who is responsible for you as a professional in your field.
So, if you’re an acquisition specialist, you will have a management structure that cares about developing you in your specialty, moving you from project to project as customer and business requirements evolve.
Sometimes that generates conflict—no program manager wants to lose a great acquisition specialist – but sometimes that’s what’s right for the employee for their professional development, or sometimes that’s what we need from an enterprise-wide perspective as we embark on a new acquisition-related project somewhere else.
But what we’ve found is we really do build that corporate reach back and cross-pollination that so many companies talk about but struggle to deliver.”
ExecutiveBiz: With the influence of emerging technologies impacting every aspect of business, how has your company been able to drive digital transformation efforts to stay ahead of innovation in the federal landscape for yourself and your customers?
Scott Recinos: “Digital transformation is one of the top capability development priorities for LMI. We are investing heavily in growing our already excellent digital and business transformation capabilities, and we’re doing that because 70% of federal IT investments are failing or are at risk of failure. We see building a digitally-enabled federal government as a core mission of LMI.
If you look at our company’s LinkedIn profile page, there are nearly a dozen videos and live events that we’ve published on our approach to digital transformation.
We have behavior analysts who find friction points for digital adoption and mitigate them. We have strategy experts who tie technology requirements with deployment schedules to ensure the right technology gets effectively deployed to and used by end users. And we’ve had major transformation success stories from across the government, including DoD.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does your company ensure long term success for your workforce to drive value for your employees as you continue to face the uphill challenge to recruit and retain the best talent in the federal marketplace?
Scott Recinos: “There is no doubt that the competition for top talent is relentless and increasing, especially among government consulting companies. We pride ourselves for attracting talent first by building on our reputation as an excellent place to work.
We won the Washington Post’s Top Workplaces 2021 award for DC-area large companies—an achievement we are most proud of because it wasn’t an outside panel evaluating us, but our employees choosing to rate us on their own time. That to me demonstrates that LMI “walks the walk” when it comes to building the kind of company people want to come to and stay.
Our investment in flexible time off, $15,000 per year in tuition benefits, lots of free training, a remote-first work culture, and a commitment to doing the right thing by our employees are just some of the reasons I believe our employees were willing to rate us so highly.
Finally, I think our employees see that we are committed to real diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Our senior executive compensation plans are directly tied to meeting DEI&A goals, not just financial goals.
We also differentiate ourselves in that we really want our employees to build careers here—I like to say we are investing in “careers not contracts.” So many in our industry see employees as simply plug-and-play, set-and-forget “seats” on contracts, and I think employees feel that.
What happens in that scenario is often employees feel no affinity to their employer because they know that if the employer loses the recompete, the employee is likely immediately out of a job, so they “go native” and disengage from their employer in favor of the government customer.
Why does LMI deploy extra resources to ensure that doesn’t happen? Because we are attracting the best talent in the industry, and we don’t want to see them walk out the door or “flip their badge” when a recompete is lost.
We look for ways to deploy them to other contracts or to move them to service line or headquarters staff where their expertise can inform proposals, etc. Sure, there are instances where we might not be able to place someone should we lose a contract, but those instances are the rare exception.”
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?
Scott Recinos: “LMI began its journey over 60 years ago as a federally-funded research and development center focused primarily on logistics and supply chain challenges for DoD.
So I think it’s appropriate for us to point out that, among the myriad challenges in cyber security, understanding the entire supply chain—that is all the contractors, sub-contractors, vendors, etc.—that feed into your solution is critically important to cybersecurity, because one vulnerable link in that supply chain from a cyber perspective can cripple an entire weapon system, sensor suite, or even the ability of a consulting team to provide services on a customer site.
Our customers are handling some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets, and they need to be able to trust that when they hire a firm to solve a problem, that firm won’t introduce more problems through cyber insecurity somewhere along their supply chain.
I think the federal government understands this and is working hard to help companies understand their supply chains, identify and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities within them, and understand the downstream impacts should a key link in those chains be severed due to cyber-attack.
Finally, we need to ensure that we help our government customers look beyond traditional government vendors to the government when it comes to identifying supply chains that impact national security.
In other words, our adversaries can have a crippling impact on our nation by attacking entities outside of the defense and national security industrial base. We only have to look at the Colonial Pipeline hack or the Abbott baby formula factory shutdown to see the vulnerability and importance of our supply chains.”
ExecutiveBiz: We often discuss innovation from the technical or capability side. What are some of the unique challenges that you’ve seen on the business side of innovation that haven’t been addressed or discussed enough?
Scott Recinos: “We have seen great success in leveraging our internal software accelerator—called The Forge™—to solve not just our customers’ challenges, but internal problems. A lot of companies talk about technology incubators, but few dedicate the resources to produce real products because it’s seen as robbing from profit.
However, you can actually save money by insourcing software solutions versus hiring a vendor or just suffering through problems.
For example, we are currently piloting a software package called Talent Ignite™ through The Forge™ that is designed to improve employee retention and engagement through machine learning.
Talent Ignite was originally developed to solve problems for government customers, but we are deploying it in-house because we see tremendous benefit in continuing to improve our already industry-high retention rates.”