Robert Davies is the CEO of Stealth-ISS Group, a Woman Owned, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) passionate about protecting companies and agencies from all facets of cyber-crime, protecting people and company data, reducing information and financial losses, and protecting client reputations. Founded in 2002, Stealth-ISS Group acts as the extended IT, cyber security, risk and compliance team for its clients and provide strategic guidance, advisory and audit services, along with technical remediation and staff awareness training.
Tell us about the early days of Stealth-ISS Group.
I started with about 25 years of industry experience! Stealth-ISS Group approached me to become their CEO about 5 years ago. They started in 2002, and after various pivots and a messy owner’s divorce, had ended up not doing very much at all. The president was consulting for other companies to keep the company going, but knew that cyber was becoming much more prominent and had a core of followers, so wanted one last go at making it successful. I traded my UK consulting company for the Stealth guaranteed job and a salary, because I do like a challenge and I was in a total rut in the UK. I love the US, and full relocation was included. I wanted to really put my MBA to use, and cross the divide from client side to provider side, just to fully experience that difference.
Gaining traction wasn’t as hard as if this had been our first rodeo. The president and I have both been in industry for many years at senior levels, so basically drew on those connections to sell our services. We did a bit of staff augmentation, and we even did a bit of recruiting for a while, until we ended up getting on the PSL of a very large MSP. Subsequently, we have hired and deployed many consultants on projects from vulnerability management to PCI consulting. It helped that the cyber security industry became very fashionable (whoever replaced the word ‘IT’ with ‘cyber’ in front of ‘security’ has added a zero to all our pay checks).
So, right place, right time.
Since I joined, it’s fair to say we have accelerated quite significantly. This is our second consecutive year on the Inc. 500 list, and we also made the top 10 on the Vet50 list for 2019. A year ago, I decided to fork the business into the federal space (a risk-based decision to cover off the next recession), so we opened an office in Huntsville eight months ago (all about proximity) and have hired about 10 folks, from proposal writers to marketing and commercial sales. We have already won our first contract, which I’m told is amazing (given the speed of government) and eagerly awaiting awards on another six or seven. We have spun up a commercial partner program among other things, but the key has been identifying and collaborating with key individuals. I recently won a CEO of the Year award (I’m amazed anyone would bother to nominate me), and today heard that I’d just won another one. That’s all great, but it’s a reflection of the team we have put together. My biggest achievement is the culture I’ve built here. It’s the only thing that’s non-negotiable when folks want to join us.