New at the top: Paul Langevin
Position: Chief financial officer at SiloSmashers, a strategy, technology and management consulting company in Fairfax County.
Career highlights: Chief financial officer, 3001 Inc.; senior-level management positions at BNFL Inc., OHM Corp., ManTech and ICF International.
Education: BS, accounting, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
Personal: Lives in Fairfax with a daughter.
The end of my first semester of college fell around the time the new GI Bill was taking effect, which I thought was a better way to pay for school than my factory job. I literally got sworn into the Army on New Year’s Eve with about six hours remaining before midnight.
For one tour, I served in the military police guarding missiles and chemical weapons. When I got out I figured if I stayed near home, I would be working in the factory or miserably commuting to Boston every day. I decided I needed to get a college degree and take a white-collar professional career track.
In college, accounting clicked with me. I was lucky to have a couple of professors who really made an impression on me. One professor made it clear that the term “discipline” was not to be taken lightly. That has always stuck with me.
Another professor, who was really hard-core, had come up through the Defense Department ranks. As someone who had just left the military, that made an impression on me.
Most people who go into accounting are really interested in the financial side. But a whole different spectrum was cost accounting, management and operations accounting, which is less interesting to many people. I just loved it.
The day after I got my diploma, I packed up my stuff and drove down Interstate 95 and got an apartment in Alexandria. I had a job waiting for me at the Defense Department. Life was great.
The nature of my job was that I often interacted with the government contracting community. My counterparts ranged from small Beltway contractors to the major defense contractors. I was auditing government contracts. I felt that I was at least as competent as the folks I was working with, so I decided to give private industry a try.
I’ll never forget sitting at the kitchen table, drawing a line down the middle of a legal-size pad and writing the pros and cons of leaving a secure government job.
I left for less pay and security than the typical government job, but I thought it would pay off. At ICF International, I worked for a variety of companies. One specialized in nuclear technology; another was your typical consulting firm. I moved up the chain and realized that I didn’t want to be only an accountant. I wanted to broaden my interests around mergers and acquisitions.
I came to SiloSmashers originally when they were a small consulting firm and needed someone to build a business infrastructure. My first job was to get the accounting, government contracting and government compliance end of the business up and running. I’m a roll-up-the-sleeves kind of guy, so I was very hands-on and interactive in every business proposal that went out the door.
The company ended up growing 50 percent while I was there.
I left to set up financial leadership at another company but recently got reacquainted with SiloSmashers. There’s some great stuff going on here. It’s different from when I left, but I’m excited to be back. Right now, it’s about setting some real measurable goals to help us stay disciplined and focused, expand the quality of what we do and improve our financial viability.
— Compiled by Vanessa Small