Sentar’s Next 30 Years: A Risk Worth Taking

I had just put my career on the line, and I was nervous.  We were now committed to embarking on a new strategy for the company (the company I worked for at the time, not Sentar), one that sought to change a risk-averse, traditional engineering and construction company into a digital solutions global leader.  It was 2016 and my team was passionate about getting in front of a market trend we were sure was about to occur: the trend that integrated digital technologies into every transportation, infrastructure, and building project around the world.  We needed to understand the Internet of Things, cybersecurity, and data analytics to enable Smart Cities and unlock new sources of client value. As the executive sponsor for my team, I had just convinced our CEO and the BoD to pivot the entire company to become something quite different.  If this didn’t work, our 75,000 employees were at risk, not to mention backlash from our investors.  I was sweating 5 minutes after leaving the meeting.  Looking back on that decision today, I’m proud (and honestly relieved) to say that while it’s still a work in progress, that strategy pivot was the right decision.

Looking back at 30 years of Sentar success, you’ll notice a consistent theme of taking smart risks to grow the business.  Originally a software development company, Sentar recognized the cybersecurity opportunity in the 1990s before many companies even had websites.  Our leadership pivoted the business to reposition Sentar as a cybersecurity solutions leader in our market, refocusing our R&D and associated service solutions to protecting critical infrastructure and data.  We’ve had other hallmark events during those three decades: 

Each of those initiatives required some risk-taking.  They required someone to grab hold of an idea, convince others that the idea had merit, and then see that idea through to successful outcome.  They required the company’s leaders to trust those people to run with that idea and assume the risk that the associated investment might not work out.  And while there is also a list of initiatives that didn’t work out the way we planned, the courage to try something new has always been part of our DNA.  And the success of those ideas has created a strong foundation for future growth and further investment.  Today, having just completed another record-breaking year, Sentar is a ~$60M company with almost 300 employees and a diverse array of contracts and clients that provide several years-worth of opportunity for additional growth.

This past year, we launched a new growth strategy, affectionately called Sentar 2.0.  That strategy builds upon our historical success and positions Sentar to take advantage of several market trends.  We are not changing who we are.  Rather, we are evolving to our next “release”.  Underpinning that strategy is a recognition that being a cybersecurity company is necessary, but no longer sufficient.  As we deliver cyber domain solutions for our clients, we must harness the power of our capabilities in cybersecurity, intelligence, analytics, and systems engineering to help our clients better understand their operational risk, help them make smarter investment decision, enhance their security, protect their critical assets, and solve complicated problems.  Along the way, we’ll take advantage of market trends focused on securing Industrial Control Systems for critical infrastructure, using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to enable true DevSecOps environments, and establishing solutions for Connected Medical Devices.

But building Sentar 2.0 isn’t just about new solutions that grow the business.  We must be able to “operationalize” that work, ensuring we have the talent and supporting systems to successfully deliver those projects.  Throughout FY20, we’ve been investing internally to that end.  For example, we’ve launched EpiSentar to enhance communications across our growing employee base.  And we’re in the midst of transitioning to Office365 which will provide a new collaboration tool (Microsoft Teams) for all employees.  Similarly, we will be transitioning to Salesforce for our Client Relationship Management system and looking for additional ways to enhance our virtual onboarding process via our ClearCompany tool.  Our brand recognition campaign has included a new website and enhanced social media engagement, coupled with the generation of Case Studies highlighting our amazing accomplishments on projects across our portfolio.  Collectively, these Case Studies help us win new work and create Backpocket stories that we can all call upon to remind us why we choose to work at Sentar.  Behind the scenes, we’re also enhancing the way we forecast our growth and establishing some new metrics to help us assess our progress along the way.  And we continue to seek new ways to invest in our people with the launch of our Talent Development Program, a new Talent Acquisition Program, and enhanced benefits.

In the midst of this growth, we are being careful not to forget who we are.  Our culture is at the center of our success and preserving that culture is fundamental to our success moving forward.  To that end, taking care of our people, seeking Win-Win-Win solutions, and holding our integrity and ethics above all else will continue to define us.

Sentar 2.0 is a risk worth taking.  We are positioning the company to stay in front of market trends.  Our work today sets the foundation for the success of that strategy.  And while there will be setbacks along the way, I’m confident we’re headed in the right direction.  That confidence comes from working with so many outstanding Sentar employees across the business who have amazing ideas, and from working alongside a leadership team that is committed to taking on intelligent risk…to boldly striving for something more….to making the next version of Sentar even better than who we are today!

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