GovCon Wire recently spoke with Chris Merdon, newly appointed group president of the public sector at NTT Data, and two-time Wash100 Award winner Tim Conway, who is retiring this summer after 12 years in the role and three decades in the industry.
This Executive Spotlight features reflections from Tim on his tenure and successes, as well as future goals and how Chris plans to continue to work to stay ahead of innovation, and his outlook on the company’s growth initiatives in the public sector and other critical areas.
“NTT DATA is very fortunate. When you take on a new role like this, there are a lot of aspects that you need to be careful about, and one to always look out for is the company culture,” said Chris Merdon.
“The most significant indicator of our strong culture is the level of retention we have with our people. It’s a true family environment. NTT DATA is very attentive to the needs of the individuals here. That is one of the elements that Tim built, and he deserves all the credit.”
In addition, Tim Conway, who announced his upcoming retirement as his current role will fall to Chris in July, provided a look into his 12-year tenure with NTT DATA and how he feels about the company’s future in the federal landscape as technology continues to drive change for us all.
“I can’t think of anything more rewarding than looking back at my career and truly believing that over my 30 years in this industry, the work I’ve done with previous organizations and NTT DATA has made a difference for the people and the residents of our nation,” said Tim Conway.
“That may have been in the healthcare space or immigration, defense or security and safety. That’s been one of the great rewards that we, as a team feel, as we deliver mission success for our customers. It’s always been exciting, and it was an honor to have that opportunity for so long.”
You can read the full interview with Tim Conway and Chris Merdon of NTT DATA below:
GovCon Wire: Congrats on becoming NTT DATA’s new Group President of the Public Sector for NTT DATA! What can you tell us about your experience throughout your career in the public sector as well as your goals in the role to drive the company throughout 2022 and beyond?
Chris Merdon: “I bring a unique background to this position, having worked in industry for 25 years, and also serving in government as a local elected official and as a government CIO, which provides a unique perspective as well to understand the needs and mindset of government agencies.
I use that experience to deliver better service to our customers. NTT DATA has had a great run in the public sector over the last decade. We’re had tremendous growth. My goal is to continue the momentum that Tim built and keep growing.
More specifically and from a digital transformation perspective, the area where the federal government is really struggling is its legacy applications; modernization is critical. That’s a fantastic area for NTT DATA to hone our focus and broaden our portfolio. We’ve had great success helping state and local governments and we are making a mark with federal clients as well.
Back in 2019, NTT DATA acquired the state and local government business from Cognosante. We have seen tremendous growth that the health consulting market and would like to leverage our consulting qualifications in the federal market. That will accelerate our growth tremendously in the coming years.”
GovCon Wire: Congrats on your upcoming retirement in July! What do you feel were your greatest contributions to NTT DATA during your 12-year tenure with the company? What do you see for the future as the company continues to grow and drive itself in the federal landscape?
Tim Conway: “If I look back over my tenure with NTT DATA, I take a lot of pride in where the company is today. I find a lot of comforts looking toward my own future and knowing that the business is stable and strong, with nothing but clear skies ahead. I’m leaving NTT DATA in good hands with Chris.
If I look back to 2010 when I joined NTT DATA, I came aboard after being a part of a company called Keane, which was a business with less than $850 million in revenue and the public sector was less than $200 million at the time. We sold Keane to NTT DATA and my goal with the new company was to build the public sector to a billion dollars.
In 2020, we surpassed the billion dollars threshold. In a little over a decade, NTT DATA saw off-the-charts growth that was balanced between the drive for contract vehicles and organic growth from the marketplace, and strategic acquisitions to add capabilities and scale.
In 2016, we purchased Dell Services. In 2019 we added NET eSolutions (NETE) and Cognosante’s State Health Consulting business. I think about that 10-year period for our sector as a services business. NTT DATA has grown our headcount more than fivefold.
Chris talked about the importance of our culture, but equally as important is how our people are contributing to the client’s mission and understanding their individual role in our success. As a company, it’s all about the core values.
For NTT DATA, that’s why we have put so much emphasis on Client First, Foresight and Teamwork. It truly is the secret to our success.
We really want to facilitate mission success and that’s a significant reason why we have tenure with so many of our clients.
When you put those core values into action, the business will flourish and that’s exactly why NTT DATA has been so successful and has established its place over a decade later.”
GovCon Wire: With the influence of emerging technologies impacting every aspect of business, how has your company been able to drive digital transformation efforts to stay ahead of innovation in the federal landscape for yourself and your customers?
Chris Merdon: “NTT DATA has a tremendous amount to offer the federal marketplace. I like the metaphor of the three-legged stool. If you look at the traditional infrastructure business that Tim just discussed, we’ve significantly expanded those capabilities after we acquired Dell Services.
NTT DATA’s data center management abilities are second to none, combine that with our management of literally tens of thousands of government employees’ devices, you have a very strong set of core services.
As you take a look at our IT service delivery and what the federal government is doing, it’s sort of the plumbing behind the curtain or building the foundation of a house you’ll never see once the walls are up. That’s one leg of the stool!
The second is another element that Tim mentioned, it’s the modernization piece. We take our digital capabilities and apply the tools that NTT DATA has at its disposal to help the federal government get to the next level in their modernization efforts. We help the government take advantage of the opportunities as they develop in the digital world.
That takes us to the third and final leg. The threat leg of the stool is a little bit unique for NTT DATA because of our offerings in terms of advisory and consulting services. I’d mentioned before that those areas have been a core solution that we’ve brought to the state governments. We’re now moving up to offer the same for our federal partners as well.
The fact is that providing deep subject matter expertise on things like Medicaid and other PMO services is critically important. With NTT DATA as your provider, you get a holistic viewpoint, and we firmly believe that partnership is an integral part of the technology innovation process. We also provide advisory and consulting services if our clients need those as well.
Depending on the opportunity at hand, NTT DATA is always looking to work with our government customers, including the state and local partners. We pull that lever and continue to provide for our clients the best that only NTT DATA can do.”
GovCon Wire: What can you tell us about the company’s recent growth initiatives and how you’re driving value for your customers? What do you hope to accomplish by the end of 2022 and are there any new markets that you’re keeping an eye on in the federal sector?
Tim Conway: In our case, NTT DATA is a rising contender across the government landscape of Federal, State, Local and Education. In Federal, if we look at some of the larger pure plays in the market, we’ve had tremendous opportunities to continue to expand our footprint in the market in several government agencies.
Looking at NTT DATA’s overall portfolio, I will highlight our place in the federal public health market. We’re a top ten provider across all the major health agencies. We want to be in the top five down the line. We’re looking forward to the opportunities ahead as we continue to deliver quality services to our clients. That will act as a springboard for NTT DATA in the future.
In addition, NTT DATA has a pretty sizable footprint across the civilian agencies, criminal justice, homeland security, defense and intel. We want to continue to develop our relationships and be that trusted provider that the federal marketplace needs to deliver on the promise of digital and cloud transformation. We’ll also keep our eyes open for opportunities across new markets and new agencies.
The future will also be in the Cloud. The entire federal landscape and everything that’s connected is going to be much more forward-thinking with secure access to the cloud. Our clients are looking for partners that have the capabilities and agility to meet their speed in the market needs. NTT DATA stands ready to support these mission needs.
At NTT DATA, we spend $3.8 billion a year on research and development. The truth is that we don’t follow technology, we define and invent technology for the future. The most important emerging technologies like 5G, NTT DATA is at the forefront of its creation and adoption.
The same can be said for security, cloud and digital transformation. We look forward to continuing to provide these capabilities for our clients. We’ll do everything we can to enable their mission success and ensure no one else can compete or compare.”