SDFM - The Business of Defense

Want to make inroads in male-dominated world of IT? Perseverance, resiliency pay off, says Infopact CEO

From an early age, Infopact’s Sireesha Deena was told she could compete with anyone no matter the challenge. Now, she’s CEO of her own company.

Give up? That’s not in Sireesha Deena’s life playbook.

“I grew up in a very modern India, where my mother’s generation, they already had seen the first woman prime minister,” recalled Deena, president and CEO of Infopact. “There was a lot of awareness about women in the workforce. We were all trained with the mindset that we can compete with the men. There’s no difference between the men and the women.”

Plus, competitiveness was an integral part of her youth too — in school, in sports, at home, she shared during an interview for the Society of Defense Financial Management’s The Business of Defense podcast on Federal News Network.

“The bar was always high, and the standards were high, not just for me but for all the girls I went to high school with and all the girls that I closely associated with,” Deena said. “They’re all very successful and really are doing very well in their careers.”

Those formative years taught Deena to never give up and to tackle challenges head on. She’s now 20 years into leading her own company, providing technology services to the federal government — and has no plans of slowing down.

Planning for future expansion as a GovCon

“We are very focused on growth,” she said. “We have very targeted pipelines in the range that we want to be. We are very aligned. We have a strategic plan for growth. And we also recently hired a growth manager.”

Infopact, which began in 2004 as a company that helped agencies modernize their enterprise resource systems through Oracle and SAP implementations, today counts data management, cloud solutions, automation and artificial intelligence as core capabilities alongside ERPs and digital modernization.

Plus, 20 years of working side-by-side with feds has provided a thorough understanding of the government environment, its processes and policies, Deena said.

Infopact “has worked with every stakeholder, starting from the program offices, contracting offices — supporting acquisition systems and end-to-end procurement processes — with the CIO offices,” she said. “Our niche? We are uniquely qualified as a small business with all of these skill sets.”

Competing in federal IT as a woman-owned small business

Deena acknowledged that success for a woman-owned small business does require perseverance and resiliency in a still male-dominated field.

“In several aspects, when you are a small business — especially when you start off as a small business in technology, which is a male-dominated world — it’s not easy,” she said. “But that teaches you. It helps you build that resiliency to see that, hey, nobody can shake you basically.”

At the end of 2023, women made up 35% of STEM jobs in the United States, working in science, technology, engineering and math–related fields, according to the Women in Tech Network. And as for tech companies founded by women, Women in Tech Network puts that figure at around 25%.

How does Deena address the potential for bias in this male-dominated environment? She answered succinctly: “Being the best at what you do. And you know, when you’re good at what you do and when you know that there’s no better thing than what you can do, nobody can shake you.”

Evolving from subcontractor to prime in federal IT

She also attributes Infopact’s success and her confidence to a passion for technology and to pushing her company to stay ahead of technology. Today, the company invests in both researching and developing forward-looking tools in its own innovation lab and through prototyping solutions.

Striving to be on the forefront of technology has helped the company move from a portfolio of work initially comprised of subcontracts to one mostly made up of prime contracts, Deena said.

And while confident that her company will continue to grow, she acknowledged that Infopact has had its share of setbacks. But forging ahead on technology always helped her and the company push through.

“Every time, being ahead of technology, what’s happening, that gives you the confidence, and that confidence is what helps you keep going,” Deena said, adding, “Keeping up with the technology is the fun part. … Keeping up with the technology is the challenge and also the opportunity where especially small businesses, with the niche capabilities, can add value to the government.”

To listen to the full discussion between Sireesha Deena, president and CEO of Infopact, and Rich Brady, CEO of SDFM, click the podcast play button below:

Discover more stories about how to thrive as a federal contractor. Find all episodes of The Business of Defense podcast.

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories

    Graphic By: Derace LauderdaleDefense Pentagon Graphic

    Parts of DoD’s modernization strategy are vague, lack metrics

    Read more
    union, federal mediation and conciliation service

    What’s new from the agency in the middle of labor-management disputes

    Read more