Acquisitions can often be long and arduous, but when done strategically, they can be extremely successful and efficient. Rebranding a company can be just as difficult and risky of an undertaking. Vencore – formerly SI – recently experienced both.
Mac Curtis, President and CEO of Vencore, will be the featured speaker at the upcoming September Monthly Meeting, which will be held at the Hilton McLean in Tysons Corner on September 19. Mr. Curtis will be introducing attendees to Vencore, while also discussing The SI Organization’s acquisition of QinetiQ and the resulting rebranding to Vencore.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Curtis about the acquisition process, integration, and why ACG members should be interested.
Here is what Mr. Curtis had to say:
CGCS: Can you give our readers some background on Vencore and your role within the organization?
Mac Curtis: Vencore is a new, $1.2 Billion company with about 4,800 employees and more than 40 years experience working in the defense, civilian, and intelligence communities.
We’re headquartered in Chantilly, Virginia, and we’ve got engineers, analysts, IT specialists and other professionals focused on performance excellence and serving customers. We’re in 17 states and multiple other locations. We provide systems engineering, integration, data analytics, cybersecurity and applied research services to the intelligence, aerospace, civilian, defense and homeland security markets. And what we do is we basically design, develop and deliver high-impact, mission-critical services and solutions to solve our customers’ most complex problems. It’s the basis of the business.
I’m the president and CEO of Vencore. This is my third tour as a CEO of a large organization. One of my focuses is to make sure we’re building something that we’re proud of. But more importantly, it’s also to focus on growing shareholder value. I’ve been involved in the M&A and corporate growth world for many years, both from a strategic and a financial buyer perspective, and I’ve also had the opportunity to divest parts of businesses in my career.
I’ve been personally involved in leading the transformations and integration from the two legacy companies, The SI and QinetiQ into Vencore. So that’s kind of where we are; we closed the deal in June and are just about in the middle of integration.
CGCS: What led to the rebranding from the SI Organization to Vencore? What challenges did you have to overcome in the rebranding process? Do you feel the benefits of the rebranding outweighed the challenges involved in the process?
Mac Curtis: QinetiQ North America was formed over last 10-12 years through 13 acquisitions involving many high-quality companies with about 40 years of experience. The SI Organizationstarted out about 40 years ago as well, so when you look at putting these two companies together, you need to keep in mind that both have very distinct cultures and high-end workforces, so when we looked at it we felt it was a good time to meld the two together and create a culture that really focuses on high-impact, high-end analytical engineering services and solutions, and part of that is because, as our markets changed, we needed to change too. We felt that a new shared identity is critical to setting the stage and the path forward for what is now Vencore.
We felt it was the appropriate time; neither legacy company could hold the weight of both firms together, so a new name and branding felt timely. Your brand is in a way inextricably linked to your past performance, which is tied to the results you deliver to your teammates and how you work with your partners and employees. All in all, brand is important, but it’s really about growing the business. So what we did at the very beginning is we had employees from both companies engage in coming up with the new name, so the name was actually a combination of several ideas from several employees across the business through an internal naming contest.
We wanted to be fresh; have a different style from a lot of companies in the local area, and frankly, embarking on this new path and making all these changes is a very involved process; more so than the casual observer may think. You have to look at the internal communications, the employees have to know what’s going on, the customers also need to be aware, then the you have the external face and the website and signs on the buildings and many, many other moving parts, which will culminate on September 15. We have a great team and we’re right on schedule to get this done. From personal experience, I can tell you that all the work we’re going through is absolutely worth it to come up with a new brand and name for this $1.2 billion company.
CGCS: What has the integration of the two companies been like? Have there been speed bumps or challenges?
Mac Curtis: This is about people. When you’re talking about integrating 2,000 people from one company and 2,800 from another, it’s never easy. You have to reset the corporate infrastructure and look at what makes sense. There’s a whole lot of work that has to be done. We’ve got an experienced team; the day we closed the deal, we already had an integration playbook laid out, and that involved communications and who some of the team leaders would be (both from the Legacy SI and QinetiQ). We put the teams together, kicked off the integration, and laid out the schedule. So it’s a major program management function.
Of course there are going to be speed bumps; in some cases you’re dealing with government regulators and you’re dealing with peoples’ lives. It’s moving at a fast pace but you have to make sure you pay attention to the details when you’re dealing with people and their careers. There are a lot of moving parts; it’s a very complicated program management exercise, but I think we’re in pretty good shape.
CGCS: Do you have any best practices or lessons learned from the acquisition?
Mac Curtis: At this point in my career, I’ve been involved in a number of acquisitions, and I think the lesson learned is that, frankly, each one of these is different. The culture of company that you’re acquiring is, as much as you may think that it’s a good fit, still in need of some adjustments.
You need to focus on and communicate with the new company once it’s acquired, and you really need to focus on your plan and execute it. I’ll be discussing this more at the monthly meeting, but we focused a lot of the social engineering aspect. We really looked at how we’re centralizing the corporate services, which is what we’re doing. We’re streamlining the operations and we used what we refer to as a performance-based organization methodology, which really allows us to focus on the design of the organization, what’s critical to the success, and allows us to select the appropriate talent to lead the company. It’s all about the new organization and putting the best athletes on the field. We designed the platform to meet market needs, which is all about being efficient, innovative, and responsive. One of the major lessons I’ve learned while doing acquisitions over the years is that you absolutely have to protect revenue; I think that kind of sums it up.
CGCS: What can ACG members expect to hear during your presentation at the upcoming monthly meeting?
Mac Curtis: It certainly won’t be a sales pitch or commercial, but an opportunity to introduce Vencore so the ACG membership can know who and what we are, as well as what differentiates us and how we’re going about the integration of the business. I’ll also talk about our key customers and contracts, the market, and some of the thought process behind the acquisition. I’ll also briefly discuss the acquisition process and the integration methodology that we’ve chosen and where we are in the process. I want to make sure I can provide the ACG membership with as much information about the deal as possible.
To hear more from Mac Curtis, click HERE to register for the upcoming monthly meeting.