How mission, making a difference drives ASI's Kymm McCabe

ASI's Kymm McCabe, a 2013 GovCon executive of the year, shares her vision of how acquisition can drive government efficiencies, and how industry leaders can make a difference in today's market.

ASI Government CEO Kymm McCabe joined this industry because she wanted to make a difference.

“I really believe that acquisition is an incredibly powerful rhetoric for driving efficiencies, especially right now,” McCabe said. “This is a great sector to be in because you can make a big difference.”

And that's exactly what she's been doing since she joined ASI Government two and a half years ago. It's why she took home the title of Executive of the Year in the Less than $75 million category at the 2013 Annual GovCon Awards produced by the Professional Services Council and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.

McCabe came to the company from government. She joined ASI after being acting deputy director of the Office of Business Transformation for the U.S. Army. Before that, she served as deputy director of the Enterprise Task Force supporting the Under Secretary of the Army/Chief Management Officer. So, she knows both sides of the acquisition landscape.

What attracted her to ASI was the company's founders, whom she found inspiring.

“We didn’t actually partner, but I worked with the folks at the same worksites and really had a lot of respect for the founders as well as the work,” McCabe said.

McCabe came to know the company’s founders for their desire “to fundamentally change the way procurement was done, with an eye on how to drive outcomes,” she said.

The company serves the intelligence community, with 47 percent of its work in that area. Thirty-three percent of their work is civilian work, and the remaining 20 percent is work in the national security sector.

As for the type of work, ASI Government has a strong focus on consulting, particularly strategic consulting work, including acquisition strategy and helping clients figure out the right way to structure their acquisitions, McCabe said.

ASI Government also has a focus on products, providing acquisition knowledge as a service. These kinds of products are currently sitting in 110 government organizations with around 50,000 passwords sold, across the entire federal government, McCabe said.

Whereas part of McCabe’s drive owes to feeling inspired by the work she does, the other part comes from lessons that she’s learned when she was young.

“My parents created an environment for myself and my brother where we didn’t believe in the limits that others set for us,” she said. “If you have a vision, and if you believe in something and have perseverance, you can accomplish it even if others tell you that you can’t.”

McCabe plugs this philosophy into her mission at ASI. “I believe in our government, I believe in our public servants, and I want to contribute back to this country to make it better and stronger, and so it’s that passion for public service drives me every day,” she said.

ASI Government has had a lot of success doing just that, and has managed to save their customers a large amount of money.

“We’ve been doing some contract savings work where we actually help the customers go through their contracts and find out where they could make modifications to those contracts and in one agency alone, we saved them $2 billion on a single contract,” McCabe said.

It’s this kind of personal, collaborative work where members from each side sit down and work through problems that McCabe enjoys the most about what she does.

“We sit down and find ways to get to the common goals that we have,” she said.

It was through that sort of collaboration that the company set up an acquisition acceleration center in one of its four client environments which decreased the cycle time of a large procurement from six months to four weeks with zero rework, McCabe said.

Despite doing so well, the company faces the same challenges that every company faces in this difficult government market; however, the company has taken advantage of the current fiscal climate and has created something it calls Acquisition of the Future in order to help other companies through these hard times.

“As part of the community, we’ve decided to try to create a space for senior leaders in acquisition to come together and create a vision of what acquisition could be in the future,” McCabe said. The goal is to create a “maturity model to allow them to have a common taxonomy, and a way to start collecting information that allows them to understand how their investments are actually resulting in an impact,” she said.

As of now, Acquisition of the Future is a non-commercial effort; the company isn’t being paid for it. But then, that’s not why McCabe is in this industry.

Financials are important to her company, of course, since ASI is a for-profit organization, but they come second to serving the customer. In McCabe's eyes, serving her country tops all.