What does Leidos do? Part 2: Q&A with John Fratamico
What does Leidos do? As Chief Technology Officer, John Fratamico sees the answer to this question from a unique perspective. Fratamico’s team recently defined the top 7 technology areas that underpin the work we do for our customers.
Here’s what he had to say.
How would you succinctly describe the work we do for our customers?
I believe our mission statement addresses the question extremely well: We make the world safer, healthier, and more efficient through information technology, engineering, and science. Our business model provides incentives for us to perform against that mission, but there has to be a strong technology foundation.
We’ve made technical excellence an important part of the business. We've hired great people and refined our skillsets. We’ve always put an emphases on hiring the absolute best.
Describe that foundation. What core technologies enable us to succeed?
We recently went through a formal process of exploring the answer to this question. When we did the dissection, we found a small set of capabilities that get reused most often across our set of customers: (1) software development, (2) enterprise IT modernization, (3) operations and logistics, (4) cyber, (5) systems engineering and integration (6) sensors, collection and phenomenology, and (7) data science and engineering.
What's the common thread that ties together our success across these 7 areas?
We’ve made technical excellence an important part of the business. We've hired great people and refined our skill sets. We’ve always put an emphases on hiring the absolute best people, and empowering them to bring innovative solutions to our customers. We give them a great deal of freedom.
You've seen this company do a lot of work over the past 30 years. What are you most proud of?
I've spent most of my career in national security. In many cases, our adversaries changed their tactics very quickly, putting our men and women in dangerous situations. Our customers came to us to address these problems very quickly. In many cases, we didn't have years to develop and refine solutions — we had just a few months to creatively put together complex technical solutions, and get them into the field with trained crews. We rose to that standard of success numerous times, and I'm extremely proud of that.
There are major success stories across the company as well. When we won the DHMSM award, it was incredible to think that a Leidos-powered solution will improve the quality of healthcare for some 10 million military personnel and their families. That’s a source of extreme pride.
I'm also a frequent flyer. Recently, I took off from Dulles following a major storm, and was struck by the resilience of the Leidos-developed routing algorithm and interfaces that address the complexity of our nation's air travel. It's a mission that has to be performed with extreme reliability and efficiency. That's a great source of pride as well.
What are the biggest technical challenges our customers face?
They have to do more with less money. They have to perform tougher missions without additional resources. They have to support their end-users with higher performance and greater agility in an increasing cyber threat environment. In most cases, that means they have to optimize across multiple domains concurrently using disparate sources of data. They have to rely upon commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products while providing cyber resilience. Increasingly, they have to provide a degree of automation or autonomy to enhance workforce performance and efficiency.
How do we help our customers make sense of so much technological change?
In a 1988 radio address, President Reagan said that "although basic research does not begin with a particular practical goal, when you look at the results over the years, it ends up being one of the most practical things government does." As a nation and as a company, our investment in basic research is our greatest source of competitive advantage.