Plenty of government contracting firms operate under the radar. But to get to the next level? That takes the skill of a strategic leader.
It’s been more than a year since Craig Reed became president and chief operating officer of the Vienna, Virginia-based technology solutions company NT Concepts.
Since coming onboard in April 2016, Reed has tapped a wide array of leadership skills—from business development and strategy to a fine-tuned communication approach—to help NT Concepts position itself for future growth, just as he’d previously helped the defense contractor Engility achieve as its senior vice president of strategy and corporate development.
For NT Concepts, Reed’s onboarding came at a fortuitous time. Less than three years before, the company had graduated from the federal government’s small-business program.
Reed has since built on Founder and CEO Michele Bolos’ corporate vision, ensuring NT Concepts’ eight core values, which are posted outside every office door at company headquarters, aren’t just lip service but actually implemented in daily practice with federal customers, employees and business partners.
“Every company has a set of values that it says it ascribes to,” Reed says. “This is a company that truly thinks about its values, and lives and operates by them.” Of those eight principles, several are especially meaningful to Reed, he says: “Be truly candid,” “Welcome entrepreneurs” and “Embrace variety.”
It’s those values, he adds, that inform his role—and the company’s future direction as a flexible and agile, customer-centric, technology solutions provider.
“This [role]was about joining a great company with 18 years of experience—that already had an excellent leadership team, outstanding qualifications and past performance—and coming in to help transform it to the next level,” says Reed, speaking from NT Concepts’ Vienna headquarters.
Reed believes in the formula that strategy comes first, organization follows strategy, and people follow organization. After revising the company’s strategy foundation in his first months on the job, the other elements of the formula came naturally.
“We went through a modest reorganization; we’ve added some excellent leadership to the team,” says Reed, citing such hires as Darin L. Powers as senior vice president for national security solutions. “We’ve also accessed some outstanding additional growth resources, and raised the company’s profile in our industry and community through participation on boards and associations we weren’t actively involved in before.”
Community service involvement is a key element of NT Concepts’ culture. “Every employee gets eight hours, every year, to serve the charitable organization of their choice,” Reed says.
In addition, NT Concepts, as a whole, participates in a “Super Service Challenge,” in which employees make videos of their service activities of choice and then enter them in companywide and then multiple-company competitions. The winning video receives prize money that goes to the employee’s charity of choice.
NT Concepts has continued its focus on being a go-to partner for technology solutions to federal customers and industry partners, most notably Google.
“A major thrust for us has been on expanding and broadening our market presence in geospatial, cloud, data analytics and machine learning, which is enabled by developing and leveraging our strategic partnerships,” Reed says. “Our partnership with Google to develop innovative solutions for our government customers has been a great example of that.” NT Concepts has the distinction of having become the first Google Earth Enterprise Partner, in 2006.
In the years since, NT Concepts has developed and deployed numerous mission support applications for intelligence and defense customers on the GEE platform. Along the way, NT Concepts secured its position as a Google for Work Partner and steady partner work ensued.
A major area of emphasis for Reed in his first year was creating the environment to position NT Concepts for future growth.
“We’ve significantly reinvigorated our new business pipeline, focusing on higher-quality, strategically aligned opportunities,” says Reed, citing organization, leadership and focus as key components of that accomplishment.
Since September 2011, NT Concepts has partnered with OPM on background investigations—for more than two of those years, providing support services to ensure professional and accurate background investigation processing for the U.S. government.
“We are proud of the progress that has been made to help OPM overcome past challenges in the security clearance process,” Reed says, “and we look forward to the opportunity to continue our partnership with OPM and our support to the critical background investigation mission.”
With federal agencies currently discussing how background investigations should be performed in the future, NT Concepts is well-positioned to take its experience and qualifications in new directions, whether by leveraging new technology solutions like continuous evaluation and supporting potential new customers that may take on responsibility for the mission.
As he nears the midpoint of his second year at NT Concepts, Reed believes the transformation he came to lead is well underway and sees plenty of opportunities for future growth.
“Looking forward, you’ll see a continued primary focus on organic growth, particularly around innovative technical solutions addressing critical customer needs,” Reed says. “We have also begun looking at how we might leverage acquisitions to help propel our transformation.”