Dubbed the Academy Awards of Government Contracting, the annual GovCon Awards gala celebrates the achievements of businesses in the region’s government contracting sector. Nominee for Contractor of the Year (up to $25 million), Evans Inc. CEO and Founder Sue Evans, talked with WashingtonExec about what differentiates the company from its competitors and what makes a quality leader.
WashingtonExec: How does your “right brain, left brain” approach set your business strategy apart from your competitors?
Sue Evans: Evans gives our clients something unique: deeply perceptive insights and problem-solving abilities that empower clients to address root causes of organizational challenges. We look at challenges through a different lens. We solve not only the problems we see, but the problems we anticipate.
Our clients hire us because of our distinctive ability to assess organizational dynamics, identify underlying issues and develop a blueprint for creative solutions to operational, organizational and leadership problems. Our “secret HOW” uses a human-centered left brain, right brain approach to solve complex challenges. The right brain considers aligning people and, at Evans, we have people with backgrounds in social work, organizational design, communications, human factors and organizational psychology. For the left brain, analytic aspect, we draw on engineering, technology, business and economics backgrounds.
Drawing on the expertise of over 60 skilled consultants and applying a team-based, integrated approach are key to developing successful strategies to implement complex systems — and ensure full adoption — regardless of the agency. Our clients say, “we don’t need more pointy headed engineers; we need Evans to make our pointy-headed engineers talk to each other!”
WashingtonExec: What advice do you have for aspiring leaders in your field?
Sue Evans: Evans expects all staff to demonstrate leadership, and we put an emphasis on professional and personal development. Staff understand that leadership is not reserved for the few at the top of the org chart — it’s a core value and is recognized and celebrated by peers monthly.
We’re a consulting firm — and staff are hired and coached to grow their ability to lead — we expect them to be proactive in identifying opportunities that not only match their passion — but also push them out of their comfort zone to learn more about themselves, a new area of expertise, their client’s problems, or their community.
All staff are encouraged to assume leadership roles in regional, national and international professional associations and boards. Such involvement in SECAF, PMI, Women in Technology, Chesapeake Bay OD Network and the Association of Change Management Professionals, for example, has grown their networks and led to new clients and employee candidates.
A very successful internal learning opportunity has been our award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility Team. It’s lead by staff who identify opportunities to give back to the community — and have fun along the way.
WashingtonExec: How does your leadership team achieve the concept of employees feeling supported, and encouraged?
Sue Evans: Evans is committed to the success of our clients through our commitment to each employee. To achieve success, our efforts must extend beyond the office walls. Instead of providing a work-life balance, Evans believes that work is part of our employees’ lives and that we must provide them space to pursue their professional and personal passions.
We believe that focusing on the employee and caring about their needs creates ROI — Real Operational Impact for our company, our employees and our clients. This philosophy has been integral to the overall development and remains the backbone of our success as we emerge from small-company status to achieving and sustaining mid-size growth. Receiving the Northern Virginia Family Service’s Company as Responsible Employer Award for the past 3 years supports the notion that the philosophy works.
We’ve been recognized for our Employment Brand through the 2016 Helios Apollo award, and a Washingtonian Great Place to Work. An indication of employee commitment to and protection of the culture is that over 70 percent of recent hires have been employee referrals, and our employee retention rate is nearly 90 percent. It’s pretty clear that we listen to and follow the hearts of our employees.
WashingtonExec: What goals are you looking to achieve in the next 5 years?
Sue Evans: We’ve been on the INC5000 list four times — realizing that it gets harder as the revenue numbers get bigger — we’re aiming for the even more selective INC500 list! But getting there is through a growth strategy that includes a focus on the federal markets; diversification within our core agencies and state and local governments; and further expansion into the commercial sector.
Our continued success in delivering measurable ROI – Real Operational Impact — in areas frequently considered “soft” helps us create an impact at the intersection of public policy and business strategy.
WashingtonExec: How does it feel to be nominated for Contractor of the Year (up to $25 mil)?
Sue Evans: Isn’t this event the “Oscars” of the government contractor space? I feel like I’m on the red carpet with the likes of Meryl Streep and Emma Stone! Really though, I’ve been working with the government as a contractor for my entire career, at other firms and with my own firm for over two decades. This a great recognition; I know many of the other nominees and respect them tremendously.
For Evans, this nomination demonstrates the impact of our team’s hard work, our employees’ continual drive to deliver ROI and our clients’ recognition of the value and their trust in Human-Centered Change that Works.