The Business of Defense

Taking a long view on growth as a small GovCon in the DMV

A redwood tree can live upward of 2,000 years. Will Redwood Strategy Group still be providing financial and IT services to agencies in 4024?

A redwood tree can live upward of 2,000 years. Will Redwood Strategy Group still be providing financial and IT services to federal agencies in 4024?

Maybe, maybe not. But the small, woman-owned business does take a long view on growth and expanding how it serves mainly defense and homeland security agencies.

“It’s really important to focus on what you do really well. As a small business, you can’t get your hands in too many pots because what happens is you dilute yourself,” said Hailey Le, CEO of Redwood Strategy Group.

“We’re really focused on our core portfolio of business, and we’ve done a great job, through steady growth, to radiate into other areas that are sort of around our core competency, which is financial modernization and transformation.”

During an interview for the American Society of Military Comptrollers’ The Business of Defense podcast on Federal News Network, Le detailed her company’s steady evolution, which most recently found it being part of the team that helped the Marine Corps achieve the first clean audit opinion by a military service.

Bringing modernization expertise to federal agencies

When it comes to the fiscal 2023 clean audit by the Marine Corps, Le demurs a bit on her company’s role, pointing out that the effort involved many people inside the service as well as multiple contractors.

Even so, it’s a nice get, and the company has embraced taking part in the service’s financial systems modernization, Le said.

“We were in there helping them to reengineer their processes, helping them get trained up on how to use the new financial system,” she said. “And one of the critical success points with the Marine Corps has been making sure that we are implementing sound solutions, making sure that we’re simplifying processes, making sure we’re sticking to the core values of an enterprise resource planning implementation — which is to not customize as much and use the commercial, off-the-shelf product as it’s intended.”

Being hands-on to help agencies transform financial operations

For Redwood, the goal is always to become a strategic ally to its customers, particularly when it comes to modernization needs – with financial systems and operations, with enterprise integration, with data analytics and automation.

“There’s a lot of innovation that comes out of small businesses and being able to walk alongside our customers and really try to help them solve their critical challenges in a resource-constrained environment,” Le said.

Her involvement in helping agencies transform and modernize began long before she founded Redwood Strategy Group in 2016, including work on the Defense Department’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission at BRAC’s start.

That experience provides a foundation that lets Redwood better help agencies optimize and sustain change, Le said. “Maybe they don’t know quite how to start,’’ she said, but being a small business, the company can “bring that expertise to them but also walk alongside them.”

Growing organically by aligning new services to federal needs

At about 50 employees, Redwood has taken a growth approach that Le refers to as “radiating” into potential new opportunities.

“Our bread and butter was always financial systems — implementing, sustaining, providing application support, help desk — we’ve radiated a little bit further,” she said based on the different transformation needs of the agencies with which it works.

That includes helping agencies better take advantage of data, particularly data in financial systems. The goal? Help government teams tell a story around data and use it to implement changes and derive cost efficiencies, Le said.

“We’ve pivoted a lot into data, making sure that we can get insights and glean from the incredible amount of data that we’re getting out of the financial systems and pairing that up with operational data.”

Le believes there is more growth ahead for her company by continuing to focus on financial modernization. Circling back to the fact that the Marine Corps is the first military service to nab a clean audit, that logic makes sense.

“There’s still a lot of business feeder systems that we could definitely look really hard at — more reduction of systems. Getting access to more data is also very important — and clean data,” she said. “So I think that by continuing that thread, I’m continuing on the great success we have with audits, making sure that we’re building the controls around that so that we can maintain and sustain that.”

To listen to the full discussion between Hailey Le, founder and CEO of Redwood Strategy Group, and Rich Brady, CEO of ASMC, 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.

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