Doug Lane

Position: Chief executive of Capgemini Government Solutions, a Reston subsidiary of the Paris-based Capgemini Group, a provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services.

Doug Lane became interested in computers as a high school student. After studying computer science in college, he landed a job as a staff consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a partner 10 years later. He eventually moved to Booz Allen Hamilton, where he served as senior vice president overseeing federal civil agency work. He decided to retire at age 52, but then a headhunter contacted him about taking over at Capgemini Government Solutions, where he now serves as chief executive.

What does it take to distinguish yourself as a consultant?

Two things. You have to be honest with yourself and your clients. I remember 15 years ago, the guy who was the general counsel of what is now Duke Energy asked if I could help him with a particular project. I told him that my firm did do the work he was interested in, but we weren’t great at it. My sense was that he needed someone who was great at it. So I recommended another person at another firm to do it for him. I wanted to make sure we continued our relationship with him. That guy eventually became a chief executive, and that one decision I made served me very well in dealing with his company as a client. I had a client for life because he knew I had his interest above my own. That’s an important tenet of consulting. The client is most important, then the firm, then you. If you keep that in mind, you’ll do a good job.

The other thing that is very important is how you work with your peers and leverage them as a team. If it’s just you doing it, you can only do so much. If you have a team, you can leverage and accomplish a lot of things. You have people who will go to battle for you. A lot of that relies on you being a good leader. Being a good leader means you have to work hard, be honest, be nurturing and disciplined.

How have you grown most as a leader since your early days at PwC?

I’ve gotten a little more mellow. I’m probably not as demanding as I was 15 or 20 years ago. I tend not to overreact to things. My basic approach to leading people hasn’t changed much in 20 years. I was fortunate to get some good coaching early on and had great people that worked for me over the years.

You have four children, some in college and one pursuing consulting. What do you tell young people about entering the field?

Be honest and be a good citizen. Everyone works with someone who has a little bit of an edge to them. If you’re really good, you can have a little bit of an edge. If you’re not so good and you have an edge, you’re going to be gone. It’s always nicer to be nice and treat people how you want to be treated. You’re so dependent on your peer network on these projects. You have to be nice.

When you look at the landscape of federal government contracting, what do you think it will take, leadership-wise, to navigate this space successfully?

It will just take time and effort. The market is not growing in total. We have a small share. We want to grow. When you’re small and you want to grow, that’s easier than if you’re big and you want to grow. Larger companies have figured since they can’t grow, they’ll cut costs. All the things that are the intangibles to a consulting business, they cut them. I’m not cutting them. I’m adding them because I know they’re going to be critical to my business soon. I’m making those investments. We have a great set of capabilities here that we have yet to deploy to the federal market. As we do that over time, we’ll have a pretty big business.

— Interview with Vanessa Small