Dave Dacquino, chairman and CEO of Serco Inc., recently spoke with GovCon Wire regarding how his team and the rest of the company’s workforce have driven success in such a competitive sector as well as how Serco is driving value for its workforce and its customers.
In addition, the two-time Wash100 Award winner also discussed Serco’s most significant growth initiatives and how emerging technologies continue to impact the federal landscape and drive the company’s digital transformation efforts to stay ahead of the curve during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
“Serco is a growth company and that makes recruitment a top priority. For us, the bottom line is about diversity and ensuring that even the quietest voices are being heard. It is essential for us that our people are happy to come to work because people have a lot of choices now. Serco is a company that shows a lot of flexibility, which has been vital to me.”
You can read the full interview with Dave Dacquino below:
GovCon Wire: What can you tell us about the company’s growth initiatives and how you are driving value for your customers?
Dave Dacquino: “Five years ago, we identified the need for a mission-focused services company that could address the entire platform lifecycle — from design to modernization to sustainment. We also saw we had some gaps in our offering. Today, with our three recent acquisitions, Serco now provides all those capabilities. We have a comprehensive offering without any OEM or hardware vendor agenda. This enables us to align with our clients’ goals fully.
The core of our growth strategy is to be a trusted partner for our government clients. It requires a total focus on supporting our clients’ missions. We do not sell any product or proprietary software. And we are not trying to rack up as many consulting hours as possible. That is a clear distinction from many of our competitors.
Serco is positioned to support customer needs, whether a long-term augmentation to their staff for several years or a short-term high visibility project over a couple of months. We can do both! Many of our competitors have more standardized deliverables that do not allow them the flexibility to support both long- and short-term projects.
Another significant change in the past five years is an increased focus on innovation and support for next-generation capabilities. For example, Serco provides a wealth of support for the U.S. Navy in developing unmanned, autonomous vessels. The focus on unmanned is a true game-changer for the Navy.
Instead of building massive single ships over decades, we are helping design multiple rounds of small, unmanned vehicles, which are just flat-out cool. The goal is to get these platforms into operation fast, understand their capabilities, and leverage flexible open architecture so that programs can scale quickly to thousands of adaptable units on a shared neural network.
We have become a key partner for the development and acquisition of testing for the next generation of those vessels above and below the surface. Serco has established itself in the key locations with the Navy to continue that work. We’re also providing design services in the large shipbuilding for DARPA with NOMARS, a next-generation clean sheet surface vessel that will never have a sailor on board. Very cool stuff that we are honored to be part of.
While Serco has had robust growth in North America over the past five years, we recognize we need to continue investing in our leadership and infrastructure to sustain that on a more significant scale.
I am very excited to have Terri Malone join as our Chief Growth Officer. Terri is laser-focused on blending our new technology and innovation capabilities with our business development goals. She has more than 20 years of expertise in leading business development efforts and accelerating growth for a wide range of high-profile government contractors. Terri will challenge our thinking to ensure customer intimacy is at the forefront.
Internally, we have launched our Business Development Academy to teach our team how to become business developers. It is critical that everyone from frontline to support staff feels like they have a stake in growing the business, and I want to make sure Serco continues to provide those growth opportunities to our people.”
GovCon Wire: With the influence of emerging technologies impacting every aspect of business, how has your company been able to drive digital transformation efforts?
Dave Dacquino: “Ultimately, it’s the customers who drive their digital transformation efforts. Serco is working with them to help link the issues and problems they are solving and digital transformation solutions. Let me be clear that does not mean just buying the latest software products. It is truly about understanding the challenge and exploring ways to transform processes and how data is managed and used throughout an enterprise.
Our customers all feel this pressure to have a digital or AI strategy. But the truth is they’re also overwhelmed. At the moment, there’s a pretty high perceived risk of taking in emerging technologies from the commercial realm and deploying it in a government context. The stakes are high, areas like data protection and mission access are highly complex, and falling behind is not an option.
I believe Serco has done an outstanding job acting as a trusted guide for digital transformation. We can assemble a mission-centered solution, which is the best of both worlds in terms of technology and tools. You will never see game-changing technology just delivered to your front door. If you do, I would not trust that package.
So, another big differentiator. Serco doesn’t simply develop a strategy to integrate AI or robotic process automation. We don’t come in, do the integration, and walk away. We are willing to operate those systems, hire the people, drive cultural change, and ultimately hold ourselves accountable for vital outcomes for our clients and the citizens they serve. That is a very different value proposition.”
GovCon Wire: How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market? How have they driven value for your company and customers?
Dave Dacquino: “We have given a lot of thought about how Serco approaches our design to meet the most vital elements to our government clients and their missions. We call this our ‘Business to Government’ or our ‘B2G’ platform.
Our mindset is that we are spending taxpayer dollars, and it’s all about transforming and reimaging the government to be more efficient and responsive. That’s our mission at Serco.
Given the events of the past few years, a pivotal element has been agility – the ability to identify the emerging technology needs and assemble a talented team as fast as possible. It was also significant for Serco to pivot around our mission priorities.
The second element is reach and the ability to deliver an integrated solution. Another critical element is the breadth of expertise. As I mentioned earlier, Serco is involved on all sides of the lifecycle process. Our people have thousands of years of experience combined, and we are bringing that to the table for our clients.
And the most critical element is innovation. In some cases, that could mean deploying technology in new ways to transform how our customers are supported in their mission. Serco is thinking very broadly about our innovation efforts, and we are thinking about better ways to deploy new talent. Attracting and retaining talent is the biggest challenge we all have right now – we are always looking for the best and the brightest in the industry to come to discover their place in our world.
Serco is a growth company and that makes recruitment a top priority. For us, the bottom line is about diversity and ensuring that even the quietest voices are being heard. It is essential for us that our people are happy to come to work because people have a lot of choices now. Serco is a company that shows a lot of flexibility, which has been vital to me.
In terms of apprenticeships and mentoring, we’re all growing and learning. No matter your background or role in our company, we want you to be in a place where professional growth never ends. It’s the best way to build a company. Serco is here to stay and change the game.”