By Light Professional IT Services, Inc.

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July 8, 2013 Issue

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Providing Comprehensive Systems Engineering and Management Expertise for the Design and Implementation of Government Networks, By Light Professional IT Services, Inc. is a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)

Robert Donahue Jr.

Bob Donahue, Jr. is President and Founder of By Light. Bob’s in-depth expertise in the Government Telecommunication Sector has been the driving force behind the rapid growth of the company. Prior to starting By Light, Bob served as an active Duty Army Officer with extensive real world experience in both tactical and strategic communication units. His last assignment was as Program Manager for the DISN Expansion Program (DEP) at DISA, delivering critical infrastructure to the Department of Defense. Bob has an M.S. in Telecommunications and a B.S. in Computer Science. Military qualifications include the Master Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab.

About By Light Professional IT Services, Inc.:

Founded in 2002, By Light Professional IT Services, Inc. is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) providing comprehensive systems engineering and management expertise for the design and implementation of both classified and unclassified Government Networks.

Business Services

By Light Professional IT Services, Inc.
3101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 850
Arlington, VA 22201


Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – July 2013


CEOCFO: Mr. Donahue, your tagline says that you are “lighting the path”. Would you tell us what you do at By Light?

Mr. Donahue: When we first started By Light, we had a strong focus on Enterprise Optical Networks and their design and implementation. Thus, our slogan “Lighting the Path” ties into this optical focus and the use of Optical wavelengths. Today we have expended are capability significantly to include telecommunications infrastructure, Software Lifecycle Development and Information Assurance. We are an IT Services Company that focuses primarily on the government sector.


CEOCFO: Would you like to do more commercial?

Mr. Donahue: Yes. We are always looking for ways to diversify and commercial work is a key component with the funding constrained environment we see today in the ‘Federal space. However, our primary focus is on the federal space.             


CEOCFO: IT is a broad category. Would you tell us the types of services and your focus?

Mr. Donahue: We are very well rounded in that respect. As we discussed earlier we started the company with a focus on optical wide areas networks or Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) opportunities. However, as our company matured we identified strategic opportunities and developed the qualifications and technical expertise required to drive new verticals and overall revenue. Our IT Services capability includes software development, Network Services, and Systems Engineering and Technical Assistance (SETA) support. We have always had a strong focus on both tactical and strategic communications efforts with significant qualifications in both SATCOM and Wireless technologies.  


CEOCFO: Why are various agencies choosing By Light?

Mr. Donahue: In the beginning it was based on our reputation, but we now have the critical past performance required to win large prime contracts. In the last 18 months we have started to win several large enterprise level contracts. This is the normal maturation process in the life cycle of any successful small business. We were in that “sweet spot” where we are very competitive for a wide range of the small business “set aside” contracts. Some of our more significant wins include CS2; GSM-ETI; T4; and DOJ Wireless which are all enterprise level efforts with significant revenue opportunities. In the end, it is all about your reputation and associated direct and relevant past performance that drives customer opportunities.


CEOCFO: Do you have the personnel to handle the increased level of business or do you need to add to your offerings?

Mr. Donahue: By Light is growing every day and we have spent a lot of time and money working on our back office capabilities. This not only includes our automated accounting systems, but also our internal recruiting capabilities which  enables By Light to quickly hire key technical personnel without having to use external recruiters with their associated additional time and expense. In addition, it removes the expense of external recruiters which fosters addition flexibility and control for our HR Department. 


CEOCFO: How helpful is the military background of yourself, your CEO, your father and the company in general?

Mr. Donahue: We feel it is very helpful and important to really understanding the mission and requirements of our DOD customers. Over 50 % of the current By Light Employees are veterans. When you hire a veteran, you get a person that works hard with strong leadership traits. We are very proud of all of our employees but have a special appreciation for our veterans who are worth their weight in gold. They are a significant part of why we are successful.                   


CEOCFO: When you are talking one on one with perspective customers in the government, does your personal background matter? Does that camaraderie make a difference over and above just the official designation as a veteran-owned company? Does it help you in getting the contracts?

Mr. Donahue: Anytime you are dealing with people or customers you know and understand it is a good thing. As far as getting work, until last year with the award of some of our set-a-side prime contracts, the majority of our work was a result of our capabilities not our status. But the small business designation definitely helps as a subcontractor. The camaraderie is a benefit, but in the end the selection is about capabilities, price and performance risk not your Ranger Tab or previous unit association.


CEOCFO: Are there particular types of projects that you prefer as a company or that you would personally like to have the company work on?

Mr. Donahue: The best kind of project is something that has importance and job satisfaction. The business aspects will always drive the interest, but supporting mission critical functions for both the commercial and government sector is a motivating factor. We seem to do better on a project where there is an intangible satisfaction factor especially on the national defense and intelligence efforts.                     


CEOCFO: You talk about leveraging real world experience. Would you explain to me a little bit about how your past projects help and the things that you have learned as you go along that are helpful for the company today?

Mr. Donahue: By Light leverages its real world experiences to drive continuous process improvement across the entire company. Our ISO 9001 program provides the tool to make this happen by leveraging both the success and failures of current work to continuously improve performance and quality while reducing risk. Learning from our real world experiences is an essential component of our success. 


CEOCFO: Technology changes in the blink of an eye. How do you keep up with what is new?

Mr. Donahue: The key to keeping up with the reality of rapid technology changes is hiring engineers with the experience and intellectual aptitude to stay in sync with the latest technology developments. Of course, we do all the normal trade shows and industry related lunches, but most of our best insight comes from being directly involved in the technology upgrades and the challenges associated with their integration. By Light performs a semiannual evaluation of our core competences in relation to the latest technology developments and industry trends so that we can realign our technical expertise and any training required to develop that new capability. This re-tooling of our skill sets is not only important to better support our customers, but essential to driving new business with the required technical expertise to reduce or mitigate execution risk. 


CEOCFO: You mentioned what your people bring, but what do you find that you are able to draw from the military background that really makes a difference in creating and moving a business forward?

Mr. Donahue: What really makes a difference is the leadership and strong work ethic. This not fail mission attitude fosters confidence in our customers and is instrumental in creating and moving the business forward. 


CEOCFO: Your site shows By Light clearly gives back to a number of organizations in the veterans’ area. How do you decide what and who you support, because there is so much need and so many organizations that are doing good work?

Mr. Donahue: It is definitely complicated to clearly understand and navigate which veteran’s organizations provide the best value to those they claim to serve. This is especially complicated if you are trying to hire a Service Disabled Veteran who just recently returned from a combat environment with significant physical and mental limitations. As a result, we have focused our attention to nationally recognized programs like Wounded Warrior. We also have implemented an aggressive process to hire both veterans and Service Disabled Veterans in our company.  


CEOCFO: What is ahead for By Light?

Mr. Donahue: Right now, we are heads down focusing on executing and optimizing all revenue opportunities leveraging our recent successes as a prime and subcontractor across the federal space. We have focused extensive resources on our back office, establishing a CPFF accounting infrastructure and shoring up our internal HR recruiting resources. We anticipate growing over 100 % over the next year to achieve a head count of around 300 direct labor personnel.


CEOCFO: How are you prepared for the challenges in keeping the corporate culture that you have been fostering when as the company get larger and larger?

Mr. Donahue: It is always challenging to keep the corporate culture when you grow quickly, but in the case of By Light I feel we are positioned very well because of our strong senior management team. Our reputation is the most important asset we have and our leadership understands that maintaining this is of utmost importance. We have engrained this attitude though out entire organization as it provides the foundation for our corporate culture. In the beginning we had very few rules which quickly evolved to too many rules as we established new SOPs and process to deal with the organizational growth. We have sense pulled back on some of the constraints and are focusing on how we can improve in a collective manner as a company. We have refaced our efforts away from technology and our internal organization and towards our relationship with the customer and a continuous process improvement strategy.  


CEOCFO: Why should investors and people in the business community pay attention to By Light? Why is By Light an exceptional company?

Mr. Donahue: The financial reason would be our exponential growth and the associated award of six prime contracts over the last eighteen months. However, the value of our company is the quality and reputation of our people. This is what makes us an exceptional company.


Any reproduction or further distribution of this article without the express written consent of is prohibited.


“By Light’s success is a direct result of our people, the most valuable asset of the company.”- Robert Donahue Jr.


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