Hector Collazo got his start in GovCon supporting the Navy, first in his native Puerto Rico and then on the ground in Iraq. He later worked to help drive the Coast Guard mission, and eventually migrated toward cybersecurity, including a stint at the U.S. Cyber Emergency Response Team at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Today, as Sev1Tech chief technology officer, he’s helping bring IT modernization to life governmentwide, supporting agencies with cloud, cybersecurity, engineering and other services.
“More often than not, government needs the GovCons to fill its critical IT gaps,” he said. “One of the common problems our government clients face is being able to attract and retain skilled professionals.” Competition from the private sector and salary limitations “make it very difficult to attract and retain such talent.”
Focusing on the Workforce
To ensure it can meet those needs, Sev1Tech focuses on employee development. The company “provides opportunities to all its employees for skills enhancement, professional growth, and career advancement,” Collazo said.
Training programs, mentorship and paths to leadership roles are all part of the company culture. And leadership provides “continuous feedback on performance and areas for improvement,” Collazo said. “This helps employees understand their strengths and see where they can develop further.”
With this approach, “we ensure our workforce stays current with technology, and innovates to increase efficiencies and save money for the government,” he added.
While other GovCons tell a similar story, Sev1Tech looks to differentiate itself in part through active pursuit of a truly diverse workforce.
“Diversity and inclusion are ingrained in our organizational culture, with a solid leadership commitment,” Collazo said.
The numbers help tell the story: At present, 44.7% of Sev1Tech employees belong to minority groups. But why does that matter to the GovCon mission?
“A diverse workforce brings together individuals from varied backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, enhancing problem-solving and innovation,” Collazo said. In the context of government contracting, “this diversity can lead to more creative and effective solutions to complex governmental challenges.”
Moreover, this approach “strengthens public trust in government initiatives, by demonstrating a commitment to representing and serving the interests of a diverse citizenry,” he said.
And the contracting community, as a whole, benefits as well.
“Diversity in GovCon promotes a more inclusive and welcoming industry culture, attracting top talent from all walks of life and ultimately driving sustained success and excellence in delivering public services,” Collazo said.
Opportunities for Growth
While Collazo is passionate about diversity and inclusion, he’s also hyperfocused on the bottom line.
“Identifying areas with substantial growth potential is one of my main priorities,” he said.
A combination of innovation and tailored solutions helps to drive that growth.
“We recognize that the landscape of government technology is evolving rapidly,” he said. “To stand out, we combine our deep understanding of public sector needs with cutting-edge technological expertise.”
The company’s approach is built on collaboration, not just with clients but with the communities they serve. With this in mind, the business strategy leans on what Collazo calls the company’s superpowers, or its ability “to enhance our customer’s existing capabilities or adopt cutting-edge technologies to gain a competitive edge,” he said.
Overall, the ability to capitalize on growth opportunities “hinges on a combination of market intelligence, innovation, and the ability to adapt and execute effectively with agility as the cornerstone,” Collazo added.
Still, success as a tech-centric GovCon doesn’t come easy: Anyone working in this arena has to struggle with sometimes-competing priorities.
“The most significant challenge I encounter revolves around striking a balance between innovation and cybersecurity,” Collazo said.
On the one hand, organizations are under constant pressure to innovate, develop new technologies and stay ahead of the competition. At the same time, “the ever-evolving threat landscape requires robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data and critical systems,” he said.
Innovation demands the rapid development and deployment of new technologies, but that can inadvertently introduce vulnerabilities. To address this, Collazo said organizations must adopt a proactive approach to cybersecurity, by integrating it into the innovation process from the ground up.
In striking that balance, he suggested, Sev1Tech can keep federal agencies at the cutting edge of technological capabilities, while still ensuring the high level of cybersecurity the government mission set demands.
When the pieces come together, it can be immensely gratifying.
“As technologists, we are shaping the present and the future, and the opportunity to learn and grow is always available,” Collazo said.
As he works to support the mission needs of federal agencies, every day presents new challenges, questions and opportunities to expand his knowledge and skills.
“Moreover, knowing that my work can positively impact people’s lives ⏤ by providing information, solving problems, or offering creative solutions ⏤ adds a profound sense of purpose,” Collazo said.