Innovation comes in many forms, and it takes talented people in every position to ensure customer success in GovCon. In this installment of Meet the Innovators, we feature Meghan Gifford, Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy, who has been with Octo since 2019. Meghan is responsible for Octo’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity, strategic planning lifecycle, and Integration Management Office (IMO). She works closely with Octo’s Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Team to align investments with strategy and drive long-term sustainable growth.
Meghan, thank you for taking the time to share your insights with us. You have a strong connection and history with organizations at every level of GovCon. Let’s start with small businesses. In your view, what is the role of small businesses in the GovCon ecosystem? And how does Octo work with small businesses to create win-wins in this environment?
Small businesses have always and will always play a critical role in the ecosystem. There is so much creativity, passion, and impact thriving within the small business community. They are a huge force for job creation. Octo partners with small businesses to bring together the best of what we collectively offer to government missions. Large businesses like Octo have the requisite experience, technical depth, contract vehicles, corporate certifications, and facilities (like our oLabs™ R&D innovation facility) to deliver on the most complex and highly sensitive mission requirements. Small businesses can bring specialized capabilities, relationships, and niche talent to the mix. And, of course, large businesses can take direction from cultural elements of their smaller peers, as Octo has done, keeping culture at the forefront as we’ve scaled.
Tell us about your work with the Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum (SECAF) as Board Chair. How did you get involved, and how does the work you do there intersect with your approach to strategy and corporate development?
I have been involved with SECAF for over five years now, and I am honored to serve this year as Board Chair. I am passionate about all things growth and got involved as a way to make an impact with emerging entrepreneurs in the GovCon space. At Octo, my role is all about enabling the big strategic moves we need to make to evolve in the dynamic federal technology space. Similarly, small and emerging businesses are looking for force multipliers to scale their company, and SECAF provides that launchpad.
Now let’s talk about the bigger picture, namely budget and economy. This article notes double digit growth for civilian agency IT in the President’s 2023 budget request. The VA and DHS, two key Octo customers, cite the largest civilian IT spending figures. The request also outlines funding increases for Defense Departments. If enacted, what will the impact to Octo’s projects be? And what other predictions can you make about the forthcoming budget?
Reading the President’s 2023 budget, you get a sense for the magnitude of the challenges of our time. Ensuring our national defense amid a shifting threat landscape, preventing the next pandemic, combating climate change, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure – these can only be addressed through true public/private partnership that leverages technology. Technical innovation is a key focus throughout the budget, including via a $300M increase to the Technology Modernization Fund. Though there is a long political slog (and likely continuing resolution) ahead before any budgetary figures become contracted dollars, the spending outlook remains strong, and this budget would provide our government partners more resources to drive mission outcomes by jumping the technology curve.
Turning to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), how do you think changing economic conditions within the US will impact M&A in the GovCon space?
The federal market generally moves countercyclically to the broader economy. This means that federal spending tends to grow throughout recessions and economic downturns, making investment in the space a great hedge against poor performance in the broader market. If we find ourselves in a recession, the GovCon industry is a great place to be, given the recurring, predictable, and multi-year nature of the revenue, with high visibility and free cash flow. We have seen an influx of nontraditional investors in the space looking to capitalize on this in recent years (new private equity entrants, foreign buyers, technology companies) and I would expect that trend to continue.
Beyond your work with Octo and SECAF, you’re also an instructor at NoMa CycleBar. What motivates you to get up and instruct others instead of cycling from the peace and comfort of your living room?
For me, nothing compares to the energy, connection, and release of an in-person class. The dark room, the loud music, the shared community of riders showing up together again and again – that is what makes it special. It is so rewarding to be with riders through their growth in that room, and I will gladly trade an extra hour of sleep to lead them. Plus, the sound system is much better than my AirPods!
If you are seeking a rewarding career as a business professional or technologist in a growing company supporting Federal Government missions, Octo is hiring. Explore opportunities now. Visit our Careers page.