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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Volgenau's hall of fame message: Be courageous, ethical leaders

I met Ernst Volgenau face-to-face for the first time in early 2004. We had spoken on the phone several times and just before that meeting I interviewed him for a story that later was headlined, The New Consolidators.

It was about how a new crop of companies were making deals were pursuing mergers and acquisitions in the federal market.

I invited all of the CEOs I had interviewed for a group photo shoot. A few declined but once Volgenau said yes and the others heard, it was easy to recruit them.

The deference and respect they showed him was readily on display. He was obviously someone they respected greatly.

So when Volgenau was inducted into the Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards Hall of Fame last night, the standing ovation was no surprise.

In 2015, his company, SRA International, merged into Computer Science Corp.’s government business to create CSRA, and Volgenau hasn’t been as visible in the market.

He joked about that when he took the stage at the 15th annual even hosted by the Professional Services Council and the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

“Some of my old friends are wondering what happened to Ernst Volgenau. He used to be young and strong and better looking than Putin and Donald Trump,” he said to great laughter.

He explained that he’s been hobbled recently by a slipped disk.

But his self-deprecation didn’t stop.

“I’ve had many experiences and I have a lot of education and some wonderful assignments,” he said. “But do I have any wisdom? I don’t know.”

Aside from his wife, Sarah, and his family, Volgenau said he gets asked what has been the most fulfilling part of his career.

“I’m grateful for the honors. And I’ve made a lot of money, but I’m trying to give that away,” he said. “I feel satisfaction with the company I helped build (with emphasis on helped.)”

But for Volgenau the fulfillment has been “the people I have worked for and worked with,” he said.

He called government contracting a noble cause because the government services industry has the opportunity to help the nation.

“We can make a contribution. We are dedicated to a noble cause,” he said.

But it takes leadership.

“I’m trying to be a courageous, ethical leader. I’m still working on it,” Volgenau said. “I hope you are too.”

And not surprisingly, he left the stage to another standing ovation.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 02, 2017 at 8:15 AM


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