Position: Chief executive, Maximus, an information technology, consulting and outsourcing services provider in Reston.

Career highlights: Since 1991, Davenport has worked at Maximus in several positions, including as chief operating officer; general manager, health and consulting business unit; president, consulting services; and, president, human services group. Before that he was partner, Deloitte & Touche; project partner, Deloitte & Touche; management consultant, Cresap, McCormick & Paget Inc.; and, director, management services, New York City Human Services Agency.

Age: 57

Education: BA, political science and economics, Hartwick College; MPA, public administration, New York University.

Personal: Married to Diane and divides his time between Boston and Reston.

How did you get to where you are?

As a young person, I had an interest in government. The idea of working with government to improve people's lives attracted me. I worked in a government setting in New York. A little bit later I had an opportunity to move to the private sector, where I had more flexibility to help solve problems. . . . I enjoyed the competitive nature and the flexibility to do different things. Then later, I got particularly interested in the area of consulting. Management consulting gives you a lot more freedom. You are independent. And as a change agent you are able to give a problem a fresh look from the top of an organization where you can have an impact. Fundamentally, I want to have the biggest impact possible running a company, helping people's lives through use of government services. I'm motivated by the competitive challenge and by a sense of having a positive impact in people's lives. . . .

When I came to Maximus in 1991, it was a very small company, and it has now become a very large company. Then, we had about $20 million in revenue with several hundred employees. Today, we are about $610 million in revenue and about 5,000 employees.

There were two sets of challenges in my career. At the very beginning, the challenge was to become very good at the basic requirements of the job, presenting speeches, writing good reports. I got very good coaching. I surrounded myself with very good people. Later, the challenge was to make an organization perform. It's a big challenge, moving from being good at a job to helping people succeed. I watched closely what others had done. I listened and I had good mentoring.

Larry Gustafson, a partner at Deloitte, now retired, was a great source of starting help. He really helped me understand how to improve operations, how to improve the way government does its business in the public sector. He was excellent in that regard. Second was John Sununu, when he was governor of New Hampshire. I worked really close with him for a couple of years. He was a superpower of analytical thinking. Third, Ray Ruddy, a partner at Deloitte, a significant person. At Maximus, I learned from him how to run an effective consulting business. And fourth is David Mastran, founder of Maximus. He taught me how to be a good CEO.

Assume the best of the other person and keep trying. Whenever something is going perfectly, it's about to fall; and when something seems like it's about to fall apart, that's when things are starting to happen. I use that to guide me constantly.