The WashingtonExec Chief Officer Awards finalists were announced on April 15, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually on May 27.
Next is Chris Bellios, finalist for the Chief Operating Officer Award, who is COO at Hexagon US Federal. Here, he talks about key professional accomplishments, training the next generation of leaders, career advice and more.
What are your main achievements in 2019/2020?
The most notable achievement for me during this time is the leadership required in our company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which for me meant putting the health and safety of our employees first. taking steps to ensure that our company continues to provide uninterrupted support to our U.S. Federal Government clients and their mission.
Our work was instrumental in establishing a working group that focused on putting in place additional health and safety measures for our employees, including sourcing and supplying personal protective equipment to all, expanding our remote working infrastructure and immediate transition to remote working for the majority of our workforce, and ensuring our employees have access to resources to continue to provide critical support to our clients across the federal government, particularly those in the defense and intelligence community.
From a community perspective, the pandemic has led to a key role in an industry working group supporting the response to the COVID pandemic. The National Security Intelligence Alliance has requested that myself and four other industry leaders be part of a COVID task force.
This group would meet with deputy directors of major CI agencies to discuss progress and challenges in managing the pandemic and returning to work. We continue to meet and share best practices from government and industry.
Due to my involvement, I was interviewed and wrote op-eds describing a win-win approach that ultimately came to fruition. I was very proud of the entire community for finding collaborative solutions to ensure that IC’s mission goals were met while meeting the needs of industry partners.
What made you successful in your current role?
Surround yourself with people smarter than you who have the passion and commitment to make the company a great place to work. Another aspect is a strong focus on leadership development – not only choosing smart people to work around you, but choosing people who have the leadership qualities and the ability to develop great teams around them.
This approach has proven its merits, as evidenced by Hexagon US Federal which has obtained the Great Place To Work certification for 2 consecutive years. The metrics for the second certification period, which covered the majority of 2020, actually improved in key areas from previous results – with extremely high ratings from employees indicating that they felt senior executives were ‘Hexagon had taken the appropriate steps to feel safe and supported during the pandemic.
Another aspect that has enabled me to be successful in my various roles is the passion to create a work environment where everyone has a sense of the company’s mission and an understanding of the role they play in helping our clients achieve. their mission objectives. I strive to create an environment where employees are proud to say that they are part of the organization.
How are you helping to shape the next generation of government leaders / industry leaders?
By implementing leadership training that is accessible to all employees of the organization, which in part requires making a distinction between management and leadership. In 2020, we identified a gap in our leadership training in our company, which led to the creation of a new leadership development program at all levels of the organization. We have particularly seen the value of providing mid-level managers with a set of leadership training courses that focus on a number of key areas, including people management and professional service delivery.
Good leadership training benefits not only those taking the course, but all of the other colleagues and colleagues around that person. The leadership workshop recently concluded and plans for future workshops are underway.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
The biggest risk I took in my career was to make the choice to leave my civil servant position after 15 years and to make the transition to the private sector. I started my career in the United States Marine Corps and then became a civilian government employee. I have been in the industry for 21 years now.
The biggest aspect of the risk was to make the choice to leave guaranteed work, promotions and a stable environment to go to industry with less guarantees of this type. This transition, however, has led me to diversify and broaden my understanding of federal military, civilian, and industrial support to government organizations.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
I think there is a two part answer to this question:
Have a really positive attitude: We are in a people company. Having a good attitude towards your job makes a big difference and helps overcome a number of challenges that you face on a daily basis. It’s making a conscious choice about how you react to your situation and what you do to resolve it instead of letting it become a hindrance.
It is especially important as a leader to have a positive attitude because you are in such a visible role. The way you visibly react to challenges and setbacks sets a powerful example to those around you and can shape the entire culture of an organization. Positive attitudes are contagious and can spread throughout an organization.
Never stop learning: Personal development is a journey, not a destination. It is about realizing personally that ultimate excellence is unattainable and knowing that you will never reach that goal, but that you can continue to learn exciting things every step of the way.
This approach allows you to be fulfilled throughout the journey and not be in a constant state of feeling that you haven’t reached your ultimate goals, which can lead to disappointment. I think the philosophy translates through all types of careers and levels of experience. It is especially important if you are striving to become a subject matter expert in your field or a thought leader in your industry that you always remain open to learning and expose yourself to new ways of learning.
Meet the other Chief Officer Awards finalists here.