We met with Kevin Mostek, Chief Financial Officer to learn more about his journey to become CFO, financial insights, and what leadership means to him.
- CFO is not a new position for you at Cognosante. Can you briefly describe your journey to Chief Financial Officer?
In November 2013, I joined Cognosante as the Vice President of Finance and later became the Chief Contracts Officer when we decided to consolidate functions to focus on growth. With our increased focus on Mergers and Acquisitions activity, my position moved into a Chief of Corporate Development role. With the 2019 departure of our then Chief Financial Officer, I came to fulfill that position—which I am very excited about.
- If you could describe Cognosante in one word, what would it be and why?
The first word that comes to mind is “Awesome” but that’s too encompassing. I’d say “Game-Changing” (not sure if that counts as one word or two!). Michele rapidly grew this company, and unlike other government contractors around the DC beltway, we never competed as a small or women-owned business. We only competed as full and open. We are committed to doing things fundamentally differently, challenging the way problems can be solved, and leap-frogging our competition. The exciting thing for me is that the journey has just begun—we have a lot to do and I think we have some amazing things on the horizon.
- What is your favorite thing about working at Cognosante?
That’s easy – the people. I have worked at four Fortune 100 companies prior to Cognosante and we have amassed an incredible group of talented folks who honestly want to do the right thing. Cognosante employees are dedicated and care—a rarity to find.
- What should everyone know about the Finance Department?
Our team is going through transformational change as we have transitioned the accounting function from Phoenix to Falls Church. In addition, we have integrated the Black Turtle Services finance and accounting team—expanding both department capabilities and welcoming many new members to the team.
We are now working diligently to improve our controls and processes within this new team structure, which will in turn provide a more consistent and higher level of service to our internal customers. We have already made process and automation improvements and have more planned for release this year. Two leaders, Kristen McLeod, Vice President Accounting and Randy Bloxsome, Vice President Finance and Administration have been particularly helpful during this time of expansion; if you haven’t had the pleasure of working with them, I encourage you to introduce yourself!
- How do you define success in the Finance Department?
Well, in the world of accounting, no news is good news. It’s important we maintain good controls to mitigate accounting errors. We strive for positive feedback from the government and our customers—including internal customers, their programs, and indirect departments as well.
- Can you briefly describe Cognosante’s financial standing?
I would describe Cognosante’s financial standing as, healthy! Over the course of the last year, there have been many changes that have made a positive impact to the bottom line:
- The divesture of our state consulting business did increase cash flows (even after taxes!) that we are looking to reinvest by way of future acquisitions.
- Although we had to make some tough decisions in 2019, we did adjust the size our indirect expenses (and not just people) to be more competitive in the market and more financially viable.
- In support of James Gordon’s goals to “operate like a public company,” we have better cost discipline, keeping us diligent and focused in our financial decisions.
- Program execution efforts have improved, keeping us in good financial standing.
As we look ahead, there are a few growth opportunities in the pipeline that we hope come to fruition and increase revenue, ultimately impacting our numbers in 2020.
- What does leadership mean to you? What are one of your biggest strengths as a leader?
There are so many valuable resources on this topic, and I could talk for hours about it. To distill it down, I would say a successful leader should be able to translate a future vision and empower his/her team to realize the vision. I try to rally my team around future possibilities and enable them to be successful in their roles. Most of all, I try to treat people like people. Most of us work to live, not live to work and recognizing that reality helps foster a fun and rewarding work environment.
- What is one interesting/unique fact about yourself?
I am probably one of the few CFOs that has a master’s degree in Engineering. As a once operations/engineering-focused individual, I found Finance about 15 years ago and have never looked back. My career path has led to diverse work experiences which, in my opinion, have helped me become a better CFO. My unique perspective enables me to apply lessons learned in understanding the challenges others may face and helps them brainstorm better outcomes and ways to be successful.