Jeffrey Sheehan, director of Space Programs at Jacobs Rapid Solutions, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding how recent partnerships have helped the company’s customers to drive innovation and new capabilities toward their missions.
In addition, Sheehan discussed how the recent implementations of The Buffalo Group, BlackLynx and other acquisitions have benefited Jacobs Rapid Solutions as well as his strategic goals for the rest of 2022 and beyond during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
“Just like any organization in this sector, Jacobs has potential gaps in our technology areas as well as the market itself. We’re always doing market surveys to see how to fill those gaps. The answer could be a new partnership, we have some good strategic partners, or there are always merger and acquisition opportunities. It’s something we’re always pursuing to improve our portfolio.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Jeffrey Sheehan below:
ExecutiveBiz: What are your strategic goals for the coming year? What do you hope to accomplish and any new markets that you’re keeping an eye on in the federal sector?
Jeffrey Sheehan: “In terms of strategy, Jacobs acquired KeyW back in 2019, which is the business unit that was rebranded into what has become Jacobs Rapid Solutions, and I joined the company shortly after in 2020. A huge aspect of the acquisition was the access to the markets for the intelligence community and the DoD, especially in the area of building hardware.
Jacobs, obviously a fortune publicly traded company, has a lot of business spread across the full spectrum of telecommunications services, operations and maintenance with NASA, which has a lot of infrastructure work with Jacobs Rapid Solutions.
I’m leading our space portfolio for rapid solutions as well as our strategy to build world-class RF space hardware for the DoD and intelligence community.
My focus really is to really evolve our business from a small kind of prototyping capability, which KeyW was, into a world-class RF payload provider that can compete and win large contracts from large PRIMES.
That’s really our strategy to grow from a prototype smaller production operation to a high volume, world-class space payload provider.”
ExecutiveBiz: What can you tell us about the implementation of recent moves Jacobs Rapid Solutions has made and how they’ve benefited your portfolio, technical capabilities and driven value for your company and customers?
Jeffrey Sheehan: “I retired from the Department of Defense back in the fall of 2020. I joined Jacobs as a program manager in the aerospace portfolio. Even in just those 14 months, we have emerged as a tier-one space payload provider with some very impressive and innovative capabilities that we’ve built and sold to the government.
Jacobs Rapid Solutions is being seen as a trusted vendor by not only the Department of Defense but multiple agencies inside the intelligence community. We have some fascinating technology. We are primarily on the space side working with front-end capabilities with onboard processing as well as all types of different RF payloads.
I’ve seen firsthand over the last year that we’re growing and have increased our personnel by roughly 30 percent. We’re growing our manufacturing capabilities threefold over the coming four or five years to meet demand.
We’re really growing and winning some good contracts. Jacobs Rapid Solutions is delivering good capabilities and hardware to our customers. The next few years are going to be even more exciting than the past year.
Jacobs has made some very significant acquisitions over the last few years for the greater organization. They acquired The Buffalo Group. They made investments in Hawkeye 360 and recently acquired BlackLynx.
BlackLynx will actually follow up under our cyber business unit, which is outside of rapid solutions, but they have some really interesting capabilities that we’ve been working with them on since the acquisition.
We’ve been helping to bring the company into Jacobs and adding their folks to our existing programs here with Rapid Solutions. We’re really leveraging and taking advantage of all the great acquisitions that Jacobs has recently and we are leveraging some of those capabilities.
For instance, the investment with Hawkeye 360 helped us gain access to their data. That’s been helpful for us in terms of their capabilities on the RF and sensor processing side that we tend to leverage as best we can for our future programs in order to grow our space portfolio and overall company growth.”
ExecutiveBiz: Why did you want to join the company and what were the attributes of its mission that attracted you to the role? What do you hope to accomplish with the company?
Jeffrey Sheehan: “First and foremost, I was attracted to Jacobs Rapid Solutions because the team really had a mission-first mindset that focused on delivering capabilities to our customers and our warfighters across the globe. I understood that clearly after the first interview with the team.
As I came in, the team was already building novel and innovative capabilities at affordable prices and timelines that met mission needs. It was a no-brainer and that piqued my interest to join. It was also a big deal that this was a great opportunity from an organizational standpoint. That was the core logic to wanting to come aboard as a program manager back in 2020.
During my tenure with Jacobs Rapid Solutions, I hope to keep the culture of innovation and rapid prototyping while also evolving into a more robust and trusted tier-one space payload provider for the Department of Defense.
I understand that sometimes, those are competing mindsets. Rapid prototyping can lead you to build something quickly, and get it out into the market to see if it works. That works sometimes, but we need to apply more rigor to the process of building space payloads that need to be launched.
My goal is to keep the space portfolio with that legacy of innovation that got Jacobs Rapid Solutions while also working to implement that rigor to the portfolio to drive our unit to evolve into that trusted peer one space payload provider that we want to be for our customers.”
ExecutiveBiz: How have recent partnerships been able to assist your company to expand its position in the federal marketplace, drive innovation and new capabilities and ultimately help complete your company’s mission?
Jeffrey Sheehan: “In the same context as acquisitions, I’m just really excited about working with BlackLynx and the other companies we’ve brought into the fold. With BlackLynx, we’ve spoken with their people and they’re really interested in the work we’re doing here. We’re in the process of forging a good partnership moving forward.
Just like any organization in this sector, Jacobs has potential gaps in our technology areas as well as the market itself. We’re always doing market surveys to see how to fill those gaps. The answer could be a new partnership, we have some good strategic partners, or there are always merger and acquisition opportunities. It’s something we’re always pursuing to improve our portfolio.
From a hardware perspective, there’s a lot of emphasis being placed on onboard processing and autonomy. Jacobs Rapid Solutions has some capabilities but in terms of an area that we need to grow into and really adopt.
We need to go all-in for onboard processing, which includes artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomy. That is another key area to watch next and we’re going to spend some cycles on it this year.”