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May 12, 2008


The Great Entrepreneur Search! We'll be announcing our "35 Under 35" shortly. Thanks to great anchor sponsors Deloitte and Greenberg Traurig as well as Cabot Consultants and Comerica, and media partner Fortune Magazine; judges Phillip Merrick, Mary MacPherson, Mike Daniels, Mario Morino, Dendy Young, and Scott Frederick; and Valhalla's Gene Riechers for hosting winners, guests, and sponsors at his home June 10.


Today we finish up our roundtable from Tysons McCormick & Schmick's, featuring the heads of three federal IT companies:

  • Stan Sloane, CEO of SRA;
  • Shiv Krishnan, CEO of Indus; and
  • Paul Leslie, President of Apptis.

Joining in were two top gurus to tech execs (who also happen to be our great sponsors): Harry Klaff of real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle, and Ed Schiff, M&A king with Sheppard Mullin law firm.


Paul, Harry, and Shiv. Paul says Apptis is looking for employees outside the D.C. area because there aren't enough skilled people locally who can get security clearances.


How difficult is it to get the workforce you need?

Shiv: From a hiring perspective there are two challenges. One is that the sought-after new skills are always in short supply.  As these technologies emerge, you're always going to be fighting with each other to get that best programmer doing X, Y, Z. The other challenge is of course the aftermath of  9/11. We're living in an increasingly security-conscious environment, which requires hiring people with security clearances.  The clearance process can take more than a year.
Paul: That's the challenge: find somebody with clearances to support our customer missions. You can't take students out of college and get them in the door. They have to be experienced. Often we're dealing with the same people—we're stealing from SRA, or from SAIC. We're stealing wherever we can get people.
Bisnow: How many people are you looking to bring in this year?
Paul: We have about 100 openings today. With our growth, we're looking at 200 to 250 people this year.
Stan: About 1,200 for SRA.
Bisnow: Wow. That's three or four every day for a year. So you also need to look outside Washington?
Stan: Yes. One thing that's tied to the presidential election is the country needs to do something about the input side of this equation and the educational system. Coupled with globalization and offshoring, it's making software development not a very attractive career. If I have that skill I move to either India or Asia because the jobs are going there. We need to deal with that as a matter of national policy.

Ed tells us that Sheppard Mullin's Silicon Valley office, just opened three weeks ago, is focusing on M&A work, bankruptcy, and commercial litigation.


What would that national policy be?

Stan: You have to protect some industries. I'm not a fan of that. But the notion of a free market is kind of a myth because governments intervene in markets inevitably. And as long as you're going to intervene, you better have a strategy to protect things in your national interest. Our defense and technology industries are an essential part of that, but it's not being addressed. I don't see any political leadership around it.

Harry says Jones Lang has 30,000 employees in over 100 offices around the globe. They have more then 500 clients, including Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Bank of America, and many local tech companies.


Do you have to maintain a corporate office within a certain range of downtown?


It's hard not to. Some of our customers require it, and some of our contracts require us to be within 30 miles.


It's a matter of convenience for us. Trust me, I'd much rather be in a building with our name on it at the intersection of Route 7 and 495.


Apptis is in the same boat as most companies in that most of our employees work on government sites, maybe 75 to 80 percent of them. And then we've got to have offices around the region to support where our employees work.

Stan: Given the option, I'd locate away from downtown because of the cost to our employees and their issues with commuting. The constraint is our customers. We have to support them. We're always balancing that, but frankly I'd rather move out than in.

David Stegon is Bisnow's tech guru. He loves to hear compliments, complaints (not really), and story ideas. Call him at 703-674-7718 or shoot an email to David@Bisnow.com



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