Joe Kehoe, vice president and defense market leader of Maximus, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the influence of the company’s digital transformation efforts as well as how that drives the most significant cybersecurity and talent recruitment challenges in our industry during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
You can read the full interview with Joe Kehoe below.
ExecutiveBiz: With the influence of emerging technologies impacting every aspect of government, how has Maximus been able to drive digital transformation efforts to stay ahead of innovation in the federal DoD landscape for yourself and your customers?
Joe Kehoe: “At Maximus, our business starts with our clients, their mission, and the people they serve. That’s our focus.
Over the years, we have witnessed a close partnership between government and industry in addressing the advancement of cybersecurity and the secure integration of emerging technologies within government IT environments.
Unfortunately, our adversaries are getting more sophisticated in their attacks and we have to maintain a resilient security posture. While technology advancements have been a game changer and provided deeper insight into our data, there are new pathways of vulnerabilities within endpoint systems, cloud environments, networks, and third-party tools.
To address this challenge, DoD’s “Digital Modernization Strategy” outlines goals and priorities including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, cloud and C3 (command, control and communications).
Maximus has aligned our defense business with DoD’s priorities, we understand the scope of what’s needed, and we have built the right partnerships that ultimately allow the DoD to use technology to gain a competitive advantage.
You can think of our approach as a three-legged stool. One leg represents our employees, and we continually invest in upskilling and encourage them to take advantage of top certificate programs in cybersecurity, cloud and agile. This allows the employees to stay relevant, and Maximus remains the go-to resource for modernization and mission-driven outcomes.
The second leg of the stool is knowing the direction of the industry and what’s trending in technology. For example, the boundaries in our customers’ cyber environments have grown exponentially, as have the number of attacks. Our understanding of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence help us move from a reactive to a proactive cyber posture.
Last, Maximus brings a consulting approach to its engagements that adds value throughout the program. For example, presenting optional solutions or even articulating a customer’s vision throughout a program is vital to helping employees – contractor and government – connect their work to the broader mission.
The stool relies on all three legs for support.
I have to emphasize that digital transformation is a continuous process of improvement and it requires an ecosystem that works seamlessly. It’s industry, government, academia and emerging technologies all working together to avoid complacency and achieve long-term advantage.”
ExecutiveBiz: How does Maximus ensure long-term success for your workforce as you continue to face the uphill challenge to recruit and retain the best talent in the federal marketplace?
Joe Kehoe: “Actually, talent recruitment and retention present a great opportunity. We are in a services business, so our people are at the heart of what we do. Our workforce takes pride in supporting our customers’ unique missions and they get to use their talents to the fullest extent.
Whether their role is technical or functional, they understand that what we do matters, and this attracts the best candidates.
We hire problem solvers with technical skill sets to perform at a high level. We want experts who are naturally transformative and can work in multiple environments and with different customers to build on their experiences. We look for critical thinkers who are solution-oriented and connect to the broader mission.
Cybersecurity remains a strong growth vector for us. We’re hiring more cybersecurity experts, including engineers, analysts, and operational specialists who understand governance and policy. This fits well with the broader digital modernization needs within the DoD.
The pandemic created several changes throughout the industry, particularly the ability for workplace flexibility. We have had to learn new ways of doing our jobs, but there is a lot of upside in terms of efficiency.
Some employees will stay remote, and others are coming back to the office. From a defense standpoint, nothing changes for staff required to be on-site in a classified environment because that’s just the nature of those roles.
At Maximus, we listen to our employees and have an environment that focuses on growth of the individual. As an executive here, I can confirm that we take that approach seriously.”
ExecutiveBiz: What do you see as the most critical challenges facing those in the federal DoD sector as cybersecurity continues to rise in importance for all organizations and even more critical at the national security level?
Joe Kehoe: “Cybersecurity is the DoD’s number one digital modernization priority. It is our fastest-growing area within Maximus and is woven into everything we do across our programs.
Cybersecurity has evolved from technical environments that were primarily on-prem where perimeter security was often sufficient. These days, we take a zero-trust approach as our customers continue to transform their technical environments, and cyber boundaries continue to expand with modernization initiatives.
With zero trust, we assume a threat has already penetrated our environment and we place controls within that environment to contain the threat. This shift from a reactive to a proactive cyber posture requires both technology and workforce transformations.
I’m proud to lead our defense business where we continue to deliver cyber solutions as a trusted partner for our defense customers. Advances in cybersecurity strategy and technology innovation will accelerate over the next couple of years and Maximus is positioned to provide an effective path to mission success for DoD programs.”
About Joe Kehoe
As an industry leader with 25 years of experience in government consulting, Joe Kehoe has focused his career on innovative problem-solving to disrupt the status quo and drive digital transformation to advance the missions within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).