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Diversity In Action

The SI Organization: partner to government and community

The SI needs both new grads and “battle-tested” pros. Buzz words to get your foot in the door: military, cybersecurity, analytics and systems engineering


The SI Organization, Inc separated from Lockheed Martin to become an independent company in 2010. It provides full lifecycle, mission-focused systems engineering and integration, strategic analytics and cybersecurity solutions; among its clients are the U.S. intelligence community, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. Its major locations include Chantilly, VA, Denver, CO, Laurel, MD, Los Angeles, CA, and Basking Ridge, NJ. “For more than forty years, the SI has partnered with the U.S. federal government to create complex solutions to tough problems,” says Kelly Jones, vice president of human capital and organizational solutions.

“Since our divestiture four years ago, we have been busy setting up our own infrastructure and enterprise planning system as an independent company.”

Since the appointment last year of Mac Curtis as chief executive officer, the SI’s strategy has been to stay focused on its core customers within the federal government but also expand into adjacent markets like cybersecurity, healthcare and big data analytics, Jones says.

“Systems engineering and an integrator’s mindset are the core skills upon which many of our positions are built: jobs like database administrators and cyber analysts. We also look for people to provide advanced technical support to our customers, as well as financial analysts, along with program managers and human resource professionals who provide critical support to our business operations.”

The SI expects moderate growth over the next year, mostly spurred by the increasing need for professionals with cybersecurity expertise, Jones speculates. “We try to get a blend of experienced professionals who are battle tested, plus entry-level talent who bring a fresh perspective. We think the synergy between those two groups make the SI’s services distinct in our markets,” he says. “We look for people who can put concepts into a framework, implement them and repeat that process to improve or refine it.”

The SI recruits regularly from ten to fifteen schools. “The schools we partner with have curriculums that align with SI’s strategy,” he says. And each year the SI identifies thirty to fifty internship opportunities for college juniors and seniors, most in technical areas. Typically, more than 85 percent of interns become full-time hires.

Varied experiences a plus
“Diversity comes in many forms. It’s not just about gender, race or ethnicity but also about experience,” says Jones. “Our ability to embrace those varied experiences is a recognized strength in our organization.”

The SI recruits from the commercial high-tech industry, as well as from the government sector and the military. “Often, people who served in the military go on to work for our classified customers. When they retire, a job at the SI presents a good opportunity for them to continue their work on the missions they are passionate about,” he explains. “Their experience as end users of our services lends itself well to working for us on the other side.”

Mentoring goes both ways
Mentoring is well established within the SI culture, says Jones. “Our experienced professionals are a mentoring bridge for our younger population and they’ve really taken that on in positive ways,” he says. The company sponsors roundtable mentoring initiatives as well as one-on-one mentoring.

The SI also has organized “knowledge transfer events.” Employees planning to retire spend time with the folks staying behind, who try to mine the “golden nuggets in their brains” that they have acquired during their years with the company, he says.

“We’ve also done a reverse model where junior people mentor senior people,” Jones says. “We’ve found that independent of age and experience, the energy around exchanging ideas is impressive.”

The SI recently launched the Velocity program to increase employee development and mobility. “We call it Velocity because we want to get our people the right skills and experiences and get them moving in the right direction,” Jones explains. “We aim to help people begin charting out their careers within the company as soon as possible.”

Replenishing the community environment
As a young company, the SI has a new diversity strategy executed through its leaders. “Through our recruiting and outreach, we make sure our diversity efforts are constant, that we’re in good standing in the community, and of course that we meet our affirmative action requirements,” Jones says.

Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots Foundation, and the United Way’s Day of Caring are among community service programs in which employees participate. “In 2011 and again in 2012 about 10,000 hours were donated to outreach events such as walks and cycling events for the Wounded Warrior Project.”

The SI sponsors science fairs and robotics competitions. Employees act as judges and also talk to local youth in kindergarten through high school. Events and venues include the Delaware Valley Science Fair, the Philadelphia Science Fair, and the Black Engineer of the Year Awards STEM Conference in Washington, DC. “We find it valuable to get involved with young people who are focused on science and technology,” Jones says.

“It’s our responsibility to give back because science and technology are fields that fuel our company,” he declares, “but it’s also an area where there’s a constant need to encourage our young people to get involved.”

D/C




The SI Organization
www.thesiorg.com

Headquarters: Chantilly, VA
Employees: 2,000
Business: Provides analytical and technical expertise to the U.S. government and its agencies

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