Aveshka: What inspired you to start Aveshka? What was the impetus that set you on this path to building this company?
Girish: After co-founding both Advanced Technology (ADTECH) and Integic Corp and their acquisitions by Emhart Corporation and Northrop Grumman, respectively, I took time off in 2008 and embarked on “my next big project” which in truth was, my daughter’s wedding. In 2009, the impetus to start Aveshka came in several forms. The first was my wife, Indu, who persuaded me to get back into the government contracting industry. The second was the events of September 11, 2001. That day shook me to my core and brought upon the sobering realization that even nations with the most sophisticated forms of power can be greatly disrupted. I wanted to create a company that protects our homeland against any type of threats–anything that can greatly disrupt our nation’s security and livelihood.
Aveshka: Starting a new company is always a challenge. Who were your first strategic hires?
Girish: One of the biggest lessons I learned when starting ADTECH and Integic was the criticality of recruiting and hiring the best personnel. In 2010, I hired five people to open Aveshka’s doors with me, one of them being Aaron Staley who now serves as Aveshka’s Senior VP for Human Capital. Aaron and I laid down the foundational roots for the recruiting team and he continues to oversee the onboarding of talent onto Aveshka programs.
Another strategic hire was Bob Martin, a previous colleague from ADTECH, who now serves as Aveshka’s Senior VP for Program Development. Bob and I reconnected in 2010 and he initially worked with Aveshka on a consulting basis. He became a full-time hire in 2012. Also in 2012, we acquired Civitas’s Homeland Security and Private Sector Preparedness Unit, which brought us Andy Weis, who is now Aveshka’s Senior VP for Operations and Growth. Bob and Andy’s previous experience and knowledge connected us to programs in the realm of IT, Cybersecurity, Public Health and Emergency Management. This was exciting as this was significantly in line with the type of work I wanted this company to take on. We have primarily supported customers in the realm of the emergency management and federal civilian sector, however, within the last few years we have strengthened our presence in IT and Cybersecurity, where we now prime various contracts. It has been our predominant focus to “cross-pollinate” across these sector areas which has been beneficial to supporting our customers.
Aveshka: How did you decide to name the company Aveshka? Is there a special meaning to the name?
Girish: Actually, starting Aveshka was a bit of a family affair. I asked my wife to come up with the company name. I had two requests: the first request was that the name should begin with the letter “A” to ensure it would be found at the top of company listings, and the second was that the name should imply “innovation.” It was perfect. Our name is derived from the Hindi word “Avishkar” which means innovation and discovery. It was fitting and its meaning was the epitome and foundation of the company culture I sought to create. Additionally, my eldest daughter Neha, designed the initial Aveshka logo. She tapped into my love for sci-fi and designed the logo using Star Trek as the inspiration.
Aveshka: Ten years is a remarkable accomplishment. What are the thoughts and emotions that come to mind when you think about what has happened over the last decade?
Girish: As we approached our 10th birthday, I realized it was strangely fitting that this anniversary fell right in the middle of a critical time in the world’s history – the COVID-19 pandemic. With 70% of our workforce currently at the forefront of the U.S. COVID response, I thought, “Wow—here we are at 10 years and we’re doing exactly what we intended for this company to do.”
When we first started Aveshka, the vision consisted of two things: First, we sought to become an innovative thought leader that executes and employs impacting solutions for customers whose mission is to fortify and strengthen our nation from national security threats. Second: we wanted to be a company that its employees would be proud to work for. Our employees take pride in doing what they do best, and that is using their subject matter expertise to make a difference. Aveshka is playing a crucial role in crisis management and mission continuity for numerous critical federal agencies and organizations affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
To be honest with you, I had some reservations about commemorating our anniversary at a time when so many people have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. But I would be completely remiss to let this anniversary go by and not acknowledge the reason why this company is so great—our people. Aveshka has come this far because of the dedication and commitment of our employees who have grown it from its humble beginnings of five people to over 270 people today. This team is comprised of people who believed in Aveshka and shed blood, sweat, and tears to get it to where it is today. In the last 10 years, we have cultivated a team of experts who truly excel in their fields and have indispensable skillsets. They never fail to go above and beyond to carry out their work and do so with the highest regard for the customer mission. When I reflect on the past decade, I feel such a deep sense of gratitude. It’s truly amazing to witness our employees’ unwavering commitment to the customer and to Aveshka.
Aveshka: So, is it safe to say at this 10-year point you have surpassed your ambitions for Aveshka?
Girish: Yes and no. As I mentioned, Aveshka employees are what makes this company so great. Our team comprises individuals who possess the highest intelligence, expertise, talent, and pride for the work they do. From that standpoint, we have far surpassed my original ambitions. I am humbled that our performance and the work we do holds great importance.
From a size and scale perspective, I had ambitions to be further along than we are. Although, no matter how successful a company is, I am certain most CEOs always aspire to be further along in that regard. We’ve had some roadblocks in Aveshka’s history with the biggest one being the 2013 government sequestration. This setback impacted every government contractor and agency. We were extremely fortunate that we did not have to close our doors as many companies did, but we did not get out unscathed. We navigated the challenge and went through a period of rebuilding and reloading. In 2015, we experienced major growth and have been on an upward trajectory ever since. Now, the COVID-19 is another business challenge we’re working to navigate, but I am confident in our company, staff, and capabilities to get through it. Being part of a “response” culture where national security is a moving target, it is second nature for us to pivot at a moment’s notice.
Aveshka: What do you love most about Aveshka? What drives you to be the best leader you can be for this company?
Girish: It is our people. I strive to provide growth and opportunities for our personnel. It is incredibly gratifying to see our employees doing what they love to do and applying their knowledge and expertise to a mission that is greater than themselves. Every day, they are making a positive impact and a difference—not just for themselves and their immediate communities but for their country. It is great to see the many customer testimonials and kudos clients so frequently provide recognizing the great work people do.
Aveshka: What’s ahead for Aveshka? What can we expect to see in the near future, or the next few years?
Girish: This past decade we have laid down the foundation for our three products/service areas: consulting, technology, and innovation. The first two service areas have strong roots and propel our business forward. At the same time, we continue to foster those customer relationships while expanding our reach, capabilities, and skillsets in those client areas. With regards to the innovation component, Aveshka developed CANDOR, our innovative and robust analytics platform used to supplement rapid scenario development. CANDOR allows us to use applied Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to solve complex problems rapidly. As we grow our Innovation services and products, we develop other technology enablers that can be leveraged by current and future customers. Additionally, we are adding the “Discovery Center”, Aveshka’s state-of-the-art technology lab and facility. Aveshka and its customers can utilize the Discovery Center to test new ideas, concepts, and create the world they envision at mission speed and scale.
As COVID-19 is demonstrating, it is inevitable that in the upcoming years, our industry and its customers will face a level of disruption. Disruption can take on many forms, but we remain committed to preparing for anticipating these changes. I believe Aveshka has always had the poise to pivot and embrace the unknown. Our focus on customer needs and capability to develop and execute innovative solutions that solve their complex challenges is second to none.
I am certain that we will continue to cultivate our culture of innovation and discovery and operate under our core values. This is how Aveshka will continue its success.
By Carissa Nee, Director, Communications and Marketing