Position: The new chief operating officer and chief financial officer of STG, a Reston-based

technology contractor.

After engineering school, Patrick G. Attilio realized that he didn’t want to pursue a career in the field. Unsure of where to look, he went door-to-door to companies in New York and New Jersey. A temporary budget analyst position at the United Nations turned into a four-year job, which began his career in finance. He went on to hold financial positions at government contractors Apptis and Unisys, helping to build business at both before arriving at STG.

What strengths did you discover about yourself early in your career?

I had an ability to learn how to learn. A big part of that was to listen to people. If you master that skill, you can cut through the noise and get through to the salient issue quickly.

What’s one of the proudest moments in your career?

At Unysis, there was one situation I can recall when I was in a regional controller role. We ran a big region. We had a project that went off the track. It was a very large criminal justice systems integration project for a county government. There were a lot of reasons why it went off track — some of it company-related, some client-related. I ended up carving a month out of my schedule and taking time at the client’s site negotiating a mutual settlement. When we started the talks, it was a very hostile environment. After a month, when we were done, not only did we get the mutual settlement, but the client was so enamored with the way we worked with them, they retained us in the account for many years after I left. We took it from a very hostile adversarial environment to, in a month, being a trusted partner.

What did you do?

It was essentially getting past the personal issues. Sometimes when things get off track like that, people focus on people and become antagonistic. Everything was arms length at one point. But a trust developed during that four to six weeks that I was at the client site. First it became respect and then it became trust. Once they realized that we were really a responsible contractor, I think the whole relationship changed.

— Interview with Vanessa Small