GovConWire: V2X CFO Shawn Mural Looking At Expansion Into New Markets & Capabilities

V2X emerged as a new government services provider in the summer of 2022 after a merger between Vectrus and Vertex. Now, V2X is looking toward the future with a focus on expanding into new areas and strengthening its presence in its existing markets and capability areas. 

Executive Mosaic sat down with V2X Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President Shawn Mural to talk about his new role, the company’s trajectory and what we can expect to see from V2X in 2024. Read below for Mural’s full Executive Spotlight interview. To set the scene for our conversation, can you give us your overview of the current GovCon market? What trends and factors are shaping the financial landscape?It’s a competitive market space. We see lots of opportunities, but we also see a lot of competition to provide services. We participate in the operational segment of the broader federal services marketplace, and those services and capabilities are highly sought after and required, especially when you think about current events around the globe. Financially speaking, we’re seeing growth across the sector. At V2X, we’re focused on delivering and developing the value to our clients and our customers that distinguishes us from competitors, and we’re remaining very focused on that value proposition.Shawn, you joined V2X as SVP and CFO in October of last year. What attracted you to V2X?I spent the better part of my career at another firm, and some of that time was in the federal services business. I greatly appreciated the intimacy with the clients and the ability to really impact outcomes for those customers. I’m most grateful for those opportunities. But I saw joining V2X as a way of getting to some of the stuff that I enjoyed from my previous experiences and working in a slightly different capacity. As with any business, the thing that attracts you to the company is the people. Here at V2X, we have wonderful people that are always working to enhance our client’s experience and deliver additional value. In meetings with the folks here, that’s what I saw, and I felt that I wanted to be a part of that. So that’s why I’m here.What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?V2X as it exists today has only been around a couple of years, although our legacy goes back decades. Two companies came together to form this business, and there are still some ongoing integration activities as we mature processes and procedures. I think the teams here have done a wonderful job of positioning the company, and they’ve made some very hard decisions early on in the lifecycle of the business. Looking forward, we’ve got other things to do, and we’re going to continue to build on those things. An important element for us is demonstrated, predictable performance, both for our customers and for our shareholders. Additionally, people are critical in our business, and I want to actively participate in developing talent across the enterprise. As I said before, the thing that makes being in this business special is the people. And finally, we need to enhance customer intimacy around the globe as opportunities develop, and I’d like to have customers look at us perhaps a little bit differently from a capability standpoint. We’re known for certain things, but we need to grow our presence in the modernization and sustainment areas of the business. We have some manufacturing and engineering development capabilities with introductions of technologies that folks don’t necessarily associate with us today. But we certainly have those capabilities and we want to show it.Can you share some of those technologies that people may not associate with V2X, but that you would like to have a bigger presence in?Our customers are always challenged with extending the life and capabilities of platforms and systems. We have a wonderful engineering capability that we think can reimagine the repurposing of assets. We’ve demonstrated it with certain customers, though we can’t talk about it a lot because we do play in some classified spaces — something else that folks might not know about us. Delivering that capability perhaps more broadly is something that I’m very excited about. We have a 1 million-square-foot facility in Indianapolis with 400-500 engineers. I’m very excited about the opportunities that the talent can bring to providing solutions for life extension of assets, repurposing of equipment and reimagining how it could be used for either short or long duration missions that those customers might have.Then from a geographic standpoint, we’re around the globe with heavy concentrations in the Middle East and in the Pacific. Delivering value to the footprint that we already have for our customers is also important, and I see opportunities here for us with technology. We’ve demonstrated some success, and we’d like to continue to do those things and build on it around the globe to support our customers.What can you tell me about V2X’s growth strategy? How are the GovCon industry trends we talked about previously are influencing this strategy as you look toward V2X’s future?We have a very strong pipeline. When we look at the growth prospects, we’ve got to stay true to who we are and make sure that we’re not trying to do too many things too fast. We want to stay true to our core and have predictable growth. The things that you can count on from us are to be there to deliver on our commitments and our mission and to continue to support our customers. There are plenty of opportunities for us to go compete in, and we will work probably in the near term to help focus on some technology insertion areas. We’ll be selective about those activities. No one has infinite resources, so how you deploy those resources has a significant impact on the growth trajectories of the business and those prospects. We’re going through our process of doing those things for 2024. We strategized in the back part of 2023 and we’re planning to launch those things here in 2024. The team is convening in various places right now to help roll those out to our engineers and other teams that are going to help develop those things and propel us forward. We feel very good about our growth prospects. We’ll be showing up in places that people might not associate with us right now and really leveraging these two companies as they have come together. When you think about the whole life cycle that this business supports — the MRO side of the business that we’ve had with aircraft, the modernization and sustainment, as well as some technology insertion — we really participate in the full cycle of programs. We’re looking at how we can do that both for our end customers as well as maybe some of the other primes.

WashingtonExec: Top DE&I Execs to Watch in 2024

Shelli Green

Executive Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, V2X

V2X’s culture enabled significant progress in its DE&I strategy, building on the groundwork set in previous years, according to Shelli Green. A major achievement is the development of a business resource group communication platform that facilitates complex discussions and idea sharing to meet company goals. V2X has also improved how it disseminates information to be more inclusive. This progress positions the company well for future acquisitions, thanks to its collection and analysis of historical data, implementation of strategic goals and strong leadership tenure.

“Shelli plays a pivotal role in shaping V2X’s corporate culture, ensuring that every voice is heard, and that diversity is celebrated,” said Chuck Prow, president and CEO. “Her dedication fosters an inclusive workplace and proves that DEI is not just a priority but a business imperative in today’s dynamic workplace and society more broadly.”

Why Watch

As V2X manages and expands globally, meeting international DE&I standards is essential. The company recognizes the value of its diverse team. In 2024, a key goal is to improve engagement and communication with team members, prioritizing inclusivity and cultural sensitivity.

To achieve this, V2X is actively coordinating with its Business Resource Groups and philanthropy committee. The company is committed to understanding and positively influencing both its internal and external communities, aiming to make a significant impact.

“An individual’s actions, belief system, and determination to overcome challenges can significantly influence how we perceive and contribute to our global community,” Green said. “Therefore, inspire change and celebrate the small victories.”

Scholastic Science World: Underwater Moonwalk

NASA astronauts train in a giant indoor pool for their next lunar mission

YOU’RE AN ASTRONAUT walking across a desolate lunar landscape for the first time. With each
step, your boots sink into the gritty surface underfoot. Even though you’re wearing a heavy spacesuit, you bounce forward in what seems like slow motion. That’s because the pull of the moon’s gravity is so weak. Or it would be . . . if you were actually on the moon. In reality, you’re on Earth at the bottom of a massive indoor pool.

This pool—12 meters (40 feet) deep and roughly the size of 10 Olympic swimming pools—is found at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) in Houston, Texas. For the past 30 years, it’s been used to help train astronauts for space exploration. The surface of the water is good for practicing the recovery mission. That’s the final stage of spaceflight, when the capsule carrying crew members returns to Earth and splashes down into the ocean. Beneath the surface, the pool contains a replica of most of the International Space Station (ISS). Moving on and around this model, astronauts practice working in microgravity—the reduced pull of gravity that creates a sense of weightlessness in space. Most recently, NASA and an aerospace company called V2X have transformed the bottom of the pool into a
realistic copy of the moon’s surface.

The simulation will be used as a training ground for NASA’s upcoming Artemis program. The astronauts flying this series of missions will include the first woman and person of color to visit the moon. It will mark humanity’s first return to the moon in more than half a century. The crew will land near the moon’s south pole, an entirely unexplored region. There, they’ll encounter huge craters, extreme temperatures, and areas of permanent darkness.
“It’s a fascinating and challenging environment to try to reproduce,” says Clay Tomlinson, a program manager at V2X.

FLOAT TANK
Astronauts heading to the moon will need to be comfortable moving in lunar gravity, which is about onesixth that on Earth, says Scott Wray, a lead training instructor on the Artemis program. That’s where the NBL comes in. Before entering the pool, astronauts are outfitted with weights and floats to wear underwater. These alter the astronauts’
buoyancy—the upward force that acts on objects in a fluid—to mimic the moon’s gravity. “The idea of using buoyancy to simulate the effects of reduced gravity has been around since the earliest spacewalks,” says Wray.


In the pool, astronauts test out the spacesuits they’ll wear during moonwalks. The newest spacesuits are easier
to move around in than any past design, including those worn by astronauts who visited the moon during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 1970s. Still, Artemis astronauts need to get used to walking, kneeling, and using tools while wearing them. And since the suits weigh roughly 181 kilograms (400 pounds) on Earth, it’s much easier to practice those movements in the simulated reduced gravity of the pool.


A MODEL MOON
The south pole of the moon—where future astronauts plan to land—is even more inhospitable than the areas Apollo astronauts explored. The angle of the sun keeps low-lying areas in permanent darkness and bitter cold. Craters make the ground uneven and hard to navigate.

To mimic aspects of this environment, Tomlinson and his team from V2X placed huge natural and manufactured boulders at the bottom of the NBL pool. They built sloped panels into the floor so astronauts can practice navigating the region’s uneven terrain. Programmable LED lights simulate the movement of the sun and the region’s extreme shadows. Engineered sand mimics the lunar regolith—the layer of dusty debris that covers the moon’s surface. With no wind or flowing water on the moon, there’s no weathering to wear and smooth regolith particles. So they tend to be jagged. Regolith can stick to surfaces and make them slippery. Astronauts must practice moving around and using tools in it, explains Tomlinson.

For the V2X team, the goal is to make the environment as close as possible to the real thing. “There’s no room for
surprises in an extreme environment like space,” says Tomlinson. “The realism of our simulations is directly tied to crew safety and mission success.”

MISSION READY
While on the moon, Artemis astronauts will collect samples of rocks more ancient than the oldest ones scientists have uncovered on Earth. They also plan to study permanently shadowed areas within the crater basins, where temperatures hover around -203°C (-333°F). That’s cold enough to freeze certain gases and potentially keep them preserved for billions of years. Scientists hope these ancient rocks and gases can help them better understand the history of both the moon and Earth. Some researchers suspect that the moon may have formed when something large smashed into the young Earth, knocking off a chunk of material—which became the moon.

This exploration could require astronauts to walk on the moon for more than six hours at a time. In the NBL’s lunar environment, astronauts can practice these missions from beginning to end, simulating entire spacewalks in real time. During training, instructors can observe the crew through live video feeds and communicate through a tethered cable, helping astronauts become familiar with procedures and learn what to do if something unexpected happens.

The goal, says Wray, is to anticipate every situation the crew might encounter on the lunar surface and enable them to respond quickly. “We do everything we can to prepare them,” he says, “so that these procedures become second nature.”


—Hailee Romain

GovConWire: V2X Hosts Veterans Breakfast With Air Force Honor Guard Presentation

November 9, 2023

Global mission services company V2X hosted the Honor Our Veterans Breakfast on Tuesday in a display of gratitude toward the many company team members who have served, as well as the veteran population of the U.S. at large. Military service members past and present were offered a spread of fresh fruit, baked goods and other refreshments.

The breakfast commenced with a presentation by four members of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and remarks from V2X President and CEO and nine-time Wash100 Award winner Chuck Prow. The chief executive recognized the efforts of the former service members in attendance and stressed the integral nature of veterans to the culture of the organization.

“At V2X, we are privileged to have a workforce made up of over 40% veterans, and their invaluable contributions continue to shape the fabric of our company and its mission,” Prow told GovCon Wire in an exclusive comment. “We are constantly reminded of the sacrifices they have made and how their courage and dedication have paved the way for a safer and more secure world.”

The breakfast was just one aspect of a multi-part initiative launched by V2X dubbed the Month of Service. As part of the endeavor, the company is holding a food drive to collect nonperishable goods for the United Service Organization and Fisher House at Fort Belvoir. Simultaneous with the breakfast was a blood drive in partnership with the Inova health system.

V2X is additionally encouraging its team members to rise above expectations in November in terms of volunteer hours and efforts made for veteran-benefitting causes.

WashingtonExec: Top HR Execs to Watch in 2023

Jo Ann Bjornson

Chief Human Resources Officer, V2X

Jo Ann Bjornson joined V2X this year after the 2022 merger of Vectrus and Vertex created a company worth nearly $4 billion with close to 16,000 employees worldwide. With 25 years of experience in federal contracting and having been part of several business transformations, she’s now part of a successful and energized company. V2X is using its larger size and varied skills to continue expanding the business.

“I feel fortunate to have joined a leadership team that is so collaborative and committed to tackling hard problems, shaping the organization, and supporting our talent priorities to support our scale and growth,” she said.

Why Watch

In 2023, Bjornson and her team are heavily focused on shaping the future and viewing the recent merger not as an integration but a reinvention. They will be working to link day-to-day priorities to what drives business results, removing what does not add value, and improving the overall V2X candidate, employee, and manager experience.

“For me personally, I have opportunity to impact the HR function at V2X but also the career development of my team, as I empower them to shape our function and their roles to focus more on being partners to our business and contributors to its success,” she said.

Chuck Prow, CEO of V2X, said the company is fortunate to have Bjornson join the leadership team during a period of transformation.

“She has hit the ground running, bringing her years of experience in our industry to shape our people priorities and lay the foundation to further scale our organization,” he said. “V2X is deeply committed to the mission and its people, and Jo Ann has brought a dynamic leadership approach that will be pivotal to our growth.”

StrategicCFO360: Stop, Reflect, Reset

Four CFOs with a slate of responsibilities that would intimidate their peers a generation ago are finding value in stopping to assess their leadership performance.

Like other CFOs in today’s turbo-charged world of business, Katie Grahmann struggled to find time in her jam-packed day to pause and think about the big picture. So many details required her attention that it was difficult to step back and assess how she was doing.

“My whole career I’ve been told, `Katie, you’re doing great, just keep up the good work,’” said Grahmann, finance chief at the 92-year-old Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the world’s largest livestock exhibition and rodeo. “But am I really doing great? I know what I know, but what I need to know is what I don’t know—my blind spots.”

Not taking time to understand one’s leadership strengths and shortcomings also troubled CFO Chris Young at private equity fund Montage Partners, which invests predominantly in family-owned industrial consumer products companies. “There’s just so much on our plates these days as CFOs that we’re getting stretched thin, going from one crisis to the next without a pause,” Young said.

The workload and blistering pace made another finance chief, Susan Lynch, wonder if her communications with finance staff was correctly interpreted. “When someone is not performing at the level they should, I ask myself, was I clear, were they capable of performing the task, or do they need help?” said Lynch, CFO at public company V2X, a leading provider of mission critical solutions to global defense clients, with $3.6 billion in annual revenue and 15,000 employees worldwide.

All three CFOs came to the realization that a relentless focus on the minutiae of business leaves no time to reflect on their leadership, how they are inspiring and mobilizing people toward attaining the CEO’s vision. Minus this introspection, they were in a liminal state, in between thinking all was well and not really knowing.

This confusion is much less today, thanks to their determined efforts to pause to frankly assess their leadership performance. Their methods of self-examination are different, but they collectively appreciate the need to sit back and take notice. Young, for example, schedules his much-needed break every two weeks to reflect on his plusses and minuses. “I zoom out to evaluate what I’m doing and how I could do it better,” he said.

Leadership self-assessment falls into the category of a CFO’s softer skills, but it is as immensely important as closing the books correctly and keeping tabs over a seemingly endless set of responsibilities. “It’s crucial for CFOs to turn everything off, take two hours, go for a walk and think about the things they’re doing well and not so well,” said Owen Ryan, former CEO of Deloitte Advisory. “Self-assessment is an opportunity for continuous improvement.”

Ryan’s long career comprises three additional stints as a CEO: at investment firm Geller Advisors; property/casualty insurer AEGIS Insurance Services; and leading finance and accounting automation solutions provider BlackLine, where he serves today as chairman and co-CEO (with founder Therese Tucker). “Good CFOs understand the vision and have put forth the strategy to achieve it, but great CFOs pause along the way to contemplate their progress,” he said.

He’s not alone in reminding CFOs to stop, reflect and reset. “The speed and intensity of change in the world challenges CFOs as enterprise and function leaders, but it also challenges them to find needed moments of time to nurture their souls,” said Ankur Agrawal, a partner at McKinsey & Co. focused on strategy and corporate finance issues.