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CyberCore’s Jennifer Kauffman on Correlating Company Values to Growth & Supply Chain Security

The security of our supply chain has become top-of-mind for government officials, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And for companies that deal with hardware procurement, supply chain security is more important than ever, as threats in this area continue to rise.

Jennifer Kauffman, chief operating officer at CyberCore Technologies, sat down with Executive Mosaic to discuss the intersection of hardware procurement and supply chain security. Kauffman, whose career included senior roles at companies like Peraton, Leidos and Dell, also discusses CyberCore’s top priorities and key capabilities. Read below for her full Executive Spotlight interview.

What are CyberCore’s core values? How do you think these values translate into continued success and growth in the GovCon market?

Our core values focus on earning and keeping the trust of others, whether that’s the trust of our customers and partners, the trust of our employees, or the trust of our nation and community.

C – Commitment to inclusion, diversity and belonging.

O – Operating with integrity, accountability and passion.

R – Respect for the mission, our partners, our colleagues and ourselves.

E – Empowering with trust, empathy and servant leadership.

We believe that by living these core values daily, we position ourselves to enable the continued success of our customers and company.

For example, as everyone knows, operating with integrity and accountability are table stakes in our market. One of the many ways in which CyberCore embraces these values — and creates market discrimination — is by maintaining two key, third-party certified ISO certifications: ISO 28000:2007, which measures our supply chain systems and processes, and ISO 20243:2018, which measures our ability to mitigate maliciously tainted and counterfeit products. As the only company in the world that assures its adherence to these ISO standards through third-party certification (versus self-attestation), we demonstrate to our customers and ourselves that accountability matters when working to secure the nation’s supply chain.

Our commitment to the well-being and growth of our employees is yet another example of how CyberCore’s core values help us perpetuate success. We focus on the health and happiness of the whole person, not simply competitive pay.

Financial — Competitive pay and benefits, such as a 401(K) and Roth 401(K) with company match, free financial planning tools and advice, and a company-funded HSA.

Occupational  Mobility and awards programs.

Social — Company events and charity initiatives.

Emotional  Company-paid Employee Assistance Program and parental leave.

Physical — A comprehensive healthcare package with premier carriers and networks and a free medical plan option.

Intellectual — $10,000 in annual tuition assistance, unlimited training time, a certification incentive program and a virtual training laboratory.

This holistic approach benefits not only CyberCore but, more importantly, our customers. We take care of our employees so they can take care of our customers and their missions.

Where are you seeing opportunities for expansion in CyberCore’s portfolio? What new capabilities or markets are you eyeing?

We see growing opportunities in the supply chain security space, albeit somewhat attenuated by lagging procurement policy. The mission elements of our customers continue to champion our value proposition. They appreciate CyberCore’s ability to mitigate prolific and increasingly credible threats to the supply chain through a variety of techniques such as initial vendor qualification (using our WindRose process), detection and mitigation of maliciously tainted and counterfeit products, and the secure (including classified) integration, packaging and delivery of IT systems.

Legacy procurement policy has not caught up to this growing challenge and mission demand. Acquisition executives continue to prioritize lowest price, technically acceptable procurement of COTS IT systems. This dynamic limits our ability to perpetuate and enhance supply chain security through direct engagement with government end-users, especially when considering our status as a large business. Fortunately, however, our systems integrator partners are increasingly leaning into our offerings to create a competitive advantage in cost-type pursuits. These same partners are also turning toward CyberCore to provision their internal IT systems such as workstations, routers and firewalls.

Of course, our warehousing services business continues unabated. We offer a wide range of options, including secure storage in DOD-approved cages.

What factors or GovCon industry trends are influencing your growth strategy as you look toward CyberCore’s future?

The growing adoption of ‘zero trust’ is influencing our growth strategy and trajectory, at least indirectly. While our offerings typically sit ‘to the left’ of the zero trust discussion, we liken zero trust to the appearance of a well-polished apple. No matter the visual appeal of that apple, it’s spoiled if there’s a worm in it. And that’s where we play. CyberCore’s comprehensive suite of supply chain security offerings mitigates the threat of the unseen worm. Our business development challenge is to help prospective customers make the connection between zero trust (or the shiny apple) and CyberCore’s expertise in mitigating the risk of malware (or the pesky worm) in the underlying IT system prior to delivery.

Industry adoption of the post-COVID hybrid work model is also influencing our growth strategy and trajectory. Given the nature of our business, CyberCore is and will remain a brick-and-mortar company. Secure packaging, shipping, receiving, storage, integration and delivery typically require presence on-site. We realize, however, that the ever-present competition for talented staff requires us to invest in systems, processes and tools that enable us to perform some of these activities remotely without losing and ideally improving productivity. As in any business, pervasive communications and collaboration are the keys to our continued success and growth.

What are the challenges and opportunities you’re facing in the area of hardware procurement? How is CyberCore tackling these challenges and harnessing these opportunities?

OEMs and their small business partners continue to leverage the government’s preference for acquiring COTS IT based on the lowest cost and technical acceptance. OEMs can offer steep product discounts to their customers. Small businesses enjoy competitive advantage not only because of national socio-economic policy but also because they avoid the capital and overhead expense of maintaining a secure warehouse and integration center.

CyberCore’s response to this pressure is best explained by our growth strategy. Unlike our competition, we operate under relevant third-party certified ISO certifications. And unlike our competition, we mitigate prolific and increasingly credible threats to the supply chain through a variety of techniques such as initial vendor qualification, detection and mitigation of maliciously tainted and counterfeit products and the secure (including classified) integration, packaging and delivery of IT systems. Our strength and opportunity thus lie in successfully selling and executing processes and techniques that make a real difference in supply chain security.

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