In the latest Executive Spotlight interview, Stefan Becker, senior vice president and business unit leader at CGI Federal, spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the technology trends that are influencing the civilian and federal regulatory agency space as well as how CGI is meeting the needs of their customers.
In addition, Becker also discussed the challenges that civilian agencies are facing as reliance on legacy systems and an aging workforce continue to impact the federal landscape and how his extensive experience supporting CGI’s clients will lead to solutions for those challenges.
Stefan Becker has spent nearly 28 years with CGI and served in his current role as a focused business leader for civilian regulatory agencies for the past four years. Prior to joining CGI Federal, he held numerous leadership roles spearheading CGI client engagements and strategic initiatives in Europe and North America, many supporting the private sector.
“Those who work with me know I have a passion for innovation. I challenge myself and the teams around me to be bold. I think it’s impactful that CGI Federal is a commercially-led systems integrator because sometimes we can learn from the ‘boldness’ of our commercial counterparts.”
You can read the full interview with Stefan Becker below:
ExecutiveBiz: Stefan, for the past four years, you’ve served as the CGI Federal business unit leader focused on civilian regulatory agencies. Tell me how your experience supporting CGI’s global and commercial clients has impacted how you approach the federal market?
Stefan Becker: “I started my CGI career working with global clients first in financial services, then communications and state and local governments, before joining CGI Federal. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside CGI clients in seven countries.
My experience is not uncommon at CGI, and I think our clients appreciate that diversity of experience and perspective. And, yes, like many of my colleagues, I’ve been with the company for a long time.
At CGI, we really seek to hire for a career, not a specific project. To build the workforce of the future, I believe that companies—and the government—need to offer candidates more than just a job. When I think about the people I work with, I see a devotion to the mission and the desire to build a career where they can make an impact, and that’s a winning combination.
Those who work with me know I have a passion for innovation. I challenge myself and the teams around me to be bold. I think it’s impactful that CGI Federal is a commercially-led systems integrator because sometimes we can learn from the ‘boldness’ of our commercial counterparts.
This is particularly true today. For example, in times of high inflation, like we’re facing currently, commercial entities tend to accelerate investments in innovation and digital transformation. The public sector can benefit from these investments and integrate important lessons learned.
So you asked how my experience impacts how I approach the federal market. Whether it’s the commercial or the public sector, digital is becoming more embedded in and integral to the business. But it’s challenging for programs to fully integrate the end-to-end digital value chain and deliver innovation and transformation at scale.
Given the sheer speed of change within the technology market today, it’s important to share lessons learned with federal leaders on commercial adoption of technologies like advanced automation, blockchain, and IoT to inform public sector priorities. It allows a company like CGI to be bold without introducing risk to our federal clients.”
ExecutiveBiz: You lead a team of nearly 1,000 personnel working across the U.S. supporting a variety of agencies including the USDA, EPA and others. While the agencies you support have diverse missions, are there specific trends you’re seeing across civilian and regulatory agencies in terms of priorities?
Stefan Becker: “From my vantage point, agencies are increasingly focused on improving business processes and enabling greater collaboration and data sharing, as well as increasing efficiency within the agency through advanced technology and automation.
Within the Regulatory Agency portfolio that I lead, we’re working with agencies to improve interagency collaboration and data sharing to better serve the public. Personally, I like the term we’ve heard quite a bit with the current administration: “whole of government approach.”
Any of us who work in the public sector recognize that challenges don’t constrain themselves to Department, agency, or other organizational boundaries. When we look at some of our national and global priorities such as climate change and economic equity, one agency alone cannot solve those problems.
I think one of the key themes or trends I am seeing is really this increased acknowledgment of the need to collaborate more effectively across organizational lines.
For example, we work with environmental regulatory agencies on how to better collect data from regulated entities once and share that data across organizations—including federal, state, and local co-regulators as well as the public.
With this administration’s focus on sustainability and environmental justice, there’s also the need to share more data—and to do so more quickly—to support public/private partnerships and government/academic research. So we’re targeting solutions to help improve the ability to query and share data across organizations, and I think that’s very exciting.”
ExecutiveBiz: We know one of the greatest challenges that regulatory agencies face is achieving results for a critical and often expanding mission within strict budgetary constraints. At the same time, civilian agencies, in particular, continue to face challenges such as an aging workforce and reliance on legacy technologies. How are the agency leaders you work alongside approaching these challenges?
Stefan Becker: “Agency leaders clearly recognize the need for greater alignment between the mission areas and their counterparts in the IT and CFO organizations. It’s interesting—each year, CGI conducts interviews of hundreds of executives globally through our Voice of the Clients program.
One of the questions we asked was: to what degree are your organization’s internal IT and business priorities aligned? Globally, across all commercial and public sectors, 48% rated alignment of IT and business or mission at 8 out of 10 or greater.
In the U.S. Federal public sector, though, that number was just 31 percent. So we know there’s work to be done here. The federal workforce is key to increasing mission and IT alignment, which is fundamental to transformation.
The President’s Management Agenda vision puts the federal workforce front and center, and with that focus, I see many changes—positive changes—coming that will improve the business of government. Now, we in the private industry recognize the challenges of our current labor market; the public sector is feeling that same pain, perhaps to an even greater extent.
It’s increasingly difficult for the government to compete for talent, including early workforce IT resources. In addition to greater partnership with the private sector to meet skills needs, I think we’ll see increased flexibility and adaptability as hallmarks of hiring and retention within the federal workforce.
I think we’ll also continue to see increased attention on training and skills advancement for the federal workforce. The speed of technology introduction is staggering, and that requires new skills not only for technical resources across government.
Those folks leading efforts to move workloads to the cloud and secure our federal networks and data—but also the budget and acquisitions shops. There’s a recognition that the federal financial and acquisitions workforce also needs to become more tech-savvy to meet the needs of an agency.
But I’m energized by what I see today from both the private and public sector workforce. In my time supporting the public sector, I’ve noted the keen focus on mission results by not only government staff but also practitioners in the public sector.
At CGI, our consultants are actively involved in government-industry associations, participating in a critical dialogue focused on problem-solving and innovation to deliver results. I love the excitement and creativity I see within these forums.
There is another common theme I hear from government executives and that is recognition of how difficult transformations and culture change can be, especially when working across organizations. I think we’re realizing that, in many cases, it’s really the people side of the business of government—and making change at scale—that poses the biggest challenges, not the technology.
For that reason, we at CGI are working with our clients on key issues associated with leadership team alignment, change readiness, and communications in addition to technology innovation and change adoption.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the technology trends you’re seeing specifically in the civilian and federal regulatory agency space? What will companies like CGI be focused on to meet the needs of civilian agencies five years from now?
Stefan Becker: “Agencies, especially regulatory agencies, are recognizing that to keep up with the industries they regulate, they need to be knowledgeable of and adopt emerging technologies. And, as I mentioned earlier, I think that CGI’s heritage as a commercially led integrator offers a valuable perspective here.
For years, we’ve been working within the financial sector and particularly in the area of trade finance to show how blockchain can be a game-changer for the way the financial industry operates. We are in a unique position to help regulators understand how that technology is being employed and how they will need to adapt to best regulate this new reality.
Agencies are also seeing that the private sector is benefiting from these emerging technologies, particularly in the area of productivity, through technologies such as advanced analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Agencies want to explore how they can apply similar strategies to improve their own operations.
At the same time, the current geopolitical environment has increased the focus on cybersecurity and supply chain. The federal government is adapting to new threats, developing new policies in response to those threats, and determining how to best monitor compliance with policies.
The government also needs to decide on appropriate and feasible enforcement of these policies. In the near term, we’re going to see an increased focus on security and overall risk reduction. For example, cross the globe, government leaders are debating the best paths to reduce risk to the energy supply chain.
In addition to increasing security, countries want sustainable economic growth while becoming more energy independent. Technology will continue to be a key catalyst for greener energy initiatives. Globally, between our utilities and public sector leadership teams, CGI is seeing much greater coordination on environmental solutions leveraging IoT, advanced analytics, and advanced data solutions to help companies, agencies—and communities, too—leverage video data, satellite data, and sensor data for smarter, more sustainable decision-making.
Naturally, those are technologies that are gaining traction in the federal regulatory landscape now. Looking to the future, I think we’ll continue to see federal agencies face both challenges and opportunities with the advancement of new frontiers such as virtual reality, digital twins and the metaverse within the federal landscape.
I think we’ll see this not only in the intelligence space but also in the civilian/regulatory realm as citizen expectations continue to rise: we expect to interact with the government much like we do with private industry. When can I pay taxes securely from my digital wallet with cryptocurrency or complete government transactions with personal service and no lines in the metaverse? For all those reasons, the federal IT market will remain an exciting place to be.”