Former Unisys Federal leader picks emerging small business as his next chapter
Venkatapathi “PV” Puvvada has found his landing spot 11 months after not joining his Unisys Federal compatriots when that business was acquired by Science Applications International Corp. in March 2020.
Puvvada will join small business NetImpact Strategies Inc. as their new CEO. Founder and now-former CEO Kavita Kalatur remains chairman.
When I spoke with Puvvada and Kalutar about the news on Monday my questions focused on why NetImpact for Puvvada, but just as importantly why Kalutar was looking for a different leader for the company she founded in 2009 and has grown to more than $50 million in annual revenue.
Puvvada had plenty of other choices after many years at Unisys Federal that culminated in its $1.2 billion acquisition by SAIC. He’s known across the industry, winning four Federal 100 awards from our sibling publication FCW as well being active in industry organizations such as the Professional Services Council and the Industry Advisory Council.
“I had a lot of conversations and a lot of choices but there were two things that were guide posts for me,” Puvvada said. He wanted an entrepreneurial setting and a company willing to take risks that can disrupt the market.
At NetImpact, Puvvada says he found a company with deep skills around digital transformation. It has a mastering of the technologies -- artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation. But more importantly, it focuses on the cultural and human impact that those technologies can have.
“A lot of companies do digital transformation from a technology perspective but NetImpact has really focused around mission, strategy consulting,” Puvvada said. “The ability to put together technology offerings with the domain expertise in terms of mission outcomes makes it more meaningful for the customer than just technology cost savings.”
Kalutar sees her company reaching a crossroads of sorts as it moves out of the small business category and into the full-and-open world of the middle tier. They have started competing there and as they’ve looked for more opportunities, she began building the infrastructure needed in human resources and bid and proposal.
In 2020, the company hired Chad Sheridan as chief innovation officer.
“He set up our innovation group and is building those forward-learning partnerships and building out the capabilities that will give us differentiation,” she said.
Bringing Puvvada on board is another big step in building the company’s infrastructure and capabilities, she said.
“As we were getting to the threshold of the middle market, we started looking at what else do we need to do to keep this momentum going,” Kalutar said. “We needed a leader who sees our vision and can help us accelerate it and bring it to market faster than we could through experimentation. Who better than PV?”
Stepping back from the CEO role did not require adjusting her ego, however. She's also always pushed the philosophy that the best idea wins.
“I think every founder-run company has to grapple with that but first, this company doesn’t have my name on it. It was always envisioned to be about bringing impact and doing it the best way possible,” Kalatar said.
“It can be my idea, somebody else’s idea. We’ve worked very hard to build that culture,” she added.
That approach has created a culture of collaboration, including how it works with customers.
“Kavita has done a very good job of build this comradery and the quality of the people that has attracted is just amazing,” Puvvada said.
As chair, Kalatar will focus on strategy and direction as well as the go-to-market approach, while Puvvada will focus on operations. But both described their working relationship as a collaboration because that is the way Kalatar has always run the company.
Given his reputation and track record, Puvvada had choices and larger companies beckoned. But NetImpact had the culture, people and leadership that matched what he was looking for.
“It isn’t about the size of the company as much as it’s about the quality and the potential that it brings, and the vision,” he said. “It’s a perfect trifecta.”
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 23, 2021 at 5:07 AM