Larry Gillespie, chairman and president of the Board for Isobar Public Sector, recently sat down for an Executive Spotlight interview to discuss his recent appointment to Isobar, his overall growth strategies for the company, the recent launch of Dentsu, a new joint venture with Omni Federal to combine their DevSecOps and cloud modernization efforts and more.
“I’ve seen so many digital transformation initiatives that weren’t successful simply because the organization didn’t understand the customer’s needs. For us, we work extremely hard to understand what our clients really want to accomplish and succeed.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Larry Gillespie below:
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on the recent appointment as Chairman and President of the Board for Isobar’s Public Sector. What can you tell us about your work with the company since April, driving future growth and future goals for your tenure in the new role?
Larry Gillespie: “It has truly been a privilege for me to be a part of one of the world’s top digital agencies. Over the years, Isobar’s work on the commercial side has been groundbreaking for many of the world’s top brands. But Isobar’s public sector has a strong 20 year legacy of doing work in the federal space, especially for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Air Force.
My job is really about figuring out how to take as much of the goodness from that legacy and the history of the organization as well as the crucial lessons learned from the commercial sector and applying them to our public sector clients in order to help them accomplish their mission and goals and delivering mission-critical services for citizens, employees and our warfighters.
Since I stepped into the role about six months ago, I’ve been heavily focused on three initiatives. The first is obviously centered around recruitment and having the right digital talent in our organization to deliver success.
We’re no different in this aspect from other digital companies, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time working to understand our culture and reimagining what should be given the emphasis on the public sector and where we need to focus our capabilities and resources. That work will continue to evolve, especially as the needs of our customers change as well as other larger environmental changes.
The second aspect has been around understanding our customer needs and their overall mission, which is not just about achieving their digital transformation goals. As an organization, we’re heavily mission-focused and their pain points are at the forefront of how we think about solving deep problems in the federal government.
All too often technology firms and digital companies focus narrowly on technologies and niche capabilities without understanding the mission and how we build and enable client and mission outcomes. We want to make sure we are bridging the gaps between capability and mission. That’s an essential part of the process.
The third area of focus that I’ll mention is business and capability readiness. Our niche is about enabling our clients to modernize in an end-to-end way. Our roots are really about customer-centric solutions and their experiences that are being enabled today by technology. The other dimension to change that is just as important includes content, communications, culture, change management, branding, marketing and other enabling capabilities. We think branding reputation and the long-term management of your reputation in the federal sector is so significant.
With our commercial background, we really excel in all these dimensions and areas. I’ve seen so many digital transformation initiatives that weren’t successful simply because the organization didn’t understand the customer’s needs. For us, we work extremely hard to understand what our clients really want to accomplish and success in those three areas is absolutely critical.”
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the newly established launch of dentsu?
Larry Gillespie: “Dentsu is a remarkable organization with an integrated network of agencies. This has been architected by our global CEO Wendy Clark, along with Jacki Kelley, our Americas CEO. From an agency and a holding company perspective, we’re very focused on bringing customer-centric solutions and tools to our clients and bringing together these strong capabilities to the public sector.
The diversity and scale of the companies are astounding. It includes really strong relationships with technology partners, such as Qualtrics, Salesforce, AWS, Google, Adobe and others, and bringing those alliance partnerships to the federal landscape. We’re now entering into two new alliances with ServiceNow and WalkMe.
We have been helping our customers on the commercial side transition their business to digital, and we have learned so much, especially when you talk about using data to make informed decisions and developing your understanding of the customers’ mission needs, their challenges to move to the cloud, achieving DevSecOps at scale with cloud native applications and putting proactive cybersecurity processes in place.
One of our approaches that I believe is different from many in the public sector is our ability to orient capabilities and requirements around the needs of our customers and a customer journey versus developing pure technology-based solutions.
The alignment of technology, security, data and other capabilities to a customer experience and mission is fundamental to us. However, we’re also seeing a shift in mindset and a better understanding of the context in which our customers operate.
Over the long term, this shift can help the federal government manage complexities involving technology and security as well as implementing organizational change that is often required for digital transformation initiatives to succeed. Even cloud and data modernization efforts can follow this type of pattern. We’ve been involved in the Air Force’s Cloud One program since the early days. In many ways, the program was a first mover and implemented many of these principles.
As for the cloud, we learned a lot about developing the right architecture and design patterns, but also the ways that internal customers should consider migrating their systems and workloads to the cloud. It can be a daunting task for many organizations that are transitioning right now to the cloud.
We are also working to provide guardrails yet enable enough flexibility for the customer to make the move to cloud and optimize their level of readiness. We also have deep experience with security technologies and processes that support compliance efforts and ATOs but also achieving a continued state of readiness.”
Visit ExecutiveBiz.com’s Executive Spotlight Page to learn more about the most significant leaders of consequence to the government contracting (GovCon) and federal sectors and their experiences driving growth, new business and capabilities in the fiercely competitive federal landscape.
ExecutiveBiz: Congrats on the recent joint venture with Omni Federal. What are some of the most significant ways your two companies will work together to combine your DevSecOps, experience design and cloud modernization to assist in the modernization challenges for federal agencies?
Larry Gillespie: “We are tremendously excited about the partnership with Omni Federal. Omni’s CEO Parag Thakker and his team have done an amazing job of establishing Omni as a leader in DevSecOps, cloud and experience design in a relatively short period of time. I feel lucky that we have been able to enter into this joint venture because of the greatness of the relationship as well as the culture at hand.
We believe we have a great partnership and a lot of this is about shared DNA, so to speak. A lot of the Omni staff used to work with Isobar and we share a similar mindset and goals. For us, we’re certainly linked culturally and from a capability standpoint.
We really complement each other. In fact, we’ve actually been working with Omni for some time and this is just formalizing our partnership, especially after our work together on the Air Force Kessel Run program.
Considering our own experience in the commercial sector along with Omni’s outstanding track record and capabilities, we think that together we’ve developed the secret sauce to help any agency modernize their technology and infrastructure.
This also includes the presentation layer and other components such as organizational change management and capacity building, which we think is another one of those areas to be optimized.
We are now moving forward at many different levels together, especially when it comes to the evaluation of our clients’ needs and mission areas as well as the agencies that are looking to change on a capability level. We are committed to knowledge sharing and working as a team. We see nothing but exciting times ahead.”
ExecutiveBiz: Back in August 2021, StandardAero secured a cloud-based engine maintenance contract to optimize the readiness, reliability and costs associated with maintenance. What can you tell us about the influence of the contract for Isobar and the long-term impact it aims to have on predictive analytics and the future of our national security efforts for other military branches?
Larry Gillespie: “It’s a great question and pinpoints one of the biggest challenges facing our military branches today, which is based around maintenance, logistics and we can throw supply chain into the conversation as well.
If you think about it, our service branches must manage and maintain an astronomical number of parts and assets from planes and ships to tanks and even more mundane assets.
In many cases, the failure of any of these assets can have severe consequences for mission success and can put lives at risk. Also, the cost to maintain these assets can be quite high in terms of both dollars and time spent on preventive maintenance.
For years, performing maintenance has been on fixed time intervals and tends to be reactive versus predictive. If there’s a way to use data to more accurately determine the status of an asset, we can not only reduce the costs associated with that maintenance but also reduce or eliminate the potential failure of an asset and increase uptime.
With this context, our work with StandardAero is about putting together the foundation for predictive maintenance applications and programs not just for the Air Force but other service branches. It’ll involve the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze data so aircraft maintainers can gain a better understanding of the status of an asset. So we can definitely expect to see not only greater efficiencies involving maintenance but also using the data to really drive the decisions about when to perform maintenance
For Standard Aero, a big part of our focus is on the customer experience, which is something that Isobar thrives on, especially in this day and age. If all we did for the next five to ten years was help the joint forces improve their maintenance and readiness standards, I think that’s something the company would be proud of.”