Sixer Spotlight with Josh Quagliaroli
Have you ever wondered how putting purpose and people first drives growth?
In this Sixer Spotlight, we’ll sit down with Josh Quagliaroli, the Chief Growth Officer at Agile Six. He’ll share his unique perspective on how their non-traditional approach challenges the traditional business development mindset. Join us as we learn about Josh's journey to Agile Six and discover how purpose and a people-first approach are at the forefront of creating better outcomes.
Q. Who is Josh Quagliaroli?
A. That's always a hard question for me. Who am I? I am someone who is a pretty big introvert at home. I like playing with my cats and dog, hanging out with my wife, driving up to see my sister or mom, and taking vacations. When I'm at home, I'm playing outside in the garden. I also play video games and watch some anime every now and then, which is what I like to do when I'm not outside. I'm a pretty simple guy. I'm pretty straightforward. I just like to keep things easygoing.
Tell us about your journey to Agile Six and your role as Chief Growth Officer.
A. I've been at Agile Six for just about five years now. I previously worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. I lived down in Washington, DC with my wife, and she worked for the Architect of the Capitol and found a new job at Yale. At the time, I was working at the US Digital Service at the VA. She was looking to move her career forward, so I ended up quitting my job, and we both moved up to Connecticut, where I'm originally from.
I didn't have a plan for what I was going to do after that. I wanted to stay in the government and federal contracting spaces. I reached out to some folks in my network. One of them was Chris Cairns, who started a company called Skylight. He didn't have any open positions, but he connected me with Dan Levenson and Robert [Rasmussen], and I started at Agile Six as an Agile coach.
Q. What did you like about working in government, and why was it important to find a job and stay in government?
A. That's a good question. I was looking for ways to help other people, and the government was always the best place to do that. When I first got a job at the VA, I wasn't necessarily looking for anything in particular. It's one of those things where you get out of school, get jobs here and there, and then you land what you would say is more of a long-term job, not necessarily sure if that will be your career. Then I started working with Veterans, and you start to see all the other people you're working with, like their families. When I moved down to DC, I got to help more people. It was a little bit less direct. When I was working in a regional office, I was helping Veterans one-on-one, helping them get their claims processed, helping them understand VA benefits and things like that. When I moved out to DC, you know, you're helping more people because it's more directly impacting the systems and the processes that they're claiming benefits through. And so, it was trying to expand that kind of sphere of helping others. The longer I stayed in government, the more I wanted to be able to do that.
Within federal contracting, you are also the ones that are implementing the systems that are being put in place. So while you're not necessarily in government, you're still helping make government processes and government technology better.
Q. Why do you consider yourself “not your average BD guy,” and how does this align with Agile Six's non-traditional approach to business development?
A. I had been at Agile Six for two and a half years or so, and I started thinking about the business development space in general for government contracting. I never saw myself in a sales role in business development. I'm not a salesperson. If you look at my background and education, nothing says business in it. When I started working at Agile Six and with Dan, I knew nothing of the ins and outs of acquisition strategy, government contracting, and business development, and a lot of that I learned at Agile Six. I learned through Dan and Robert, and some of the business side of things I learned through Ernie. As I mentioned earlier, I'm pretty straightforward, and when it comes to sales, it's not always as straightforward. Dan and I have always wanted to try to do things a little bit differently. We didn't want to sell; we wanted to focus on our delivery more than marketing.
Q. Let's talk about delivery is our strategy. What does that mean?
A. Delivery is part of our strategy. It's the main part of our strategy, where if you focus on delivering well, you're focused on delivering good outcomes, and you're focused on quality. You're focused on who you're delivering for, both from a user perspective and the folks you're working for. If you can't successfully deliver on the work that you promise, it doesn't matter. We've always focused on delivery as opposed to everything else.
Part of what we do as well is help with our account side of the house. Not only do we do business development work, proposals, and contracts, but we also help on the account side. We understand what we're delivering and are very closely tied to and aligned with our delivery managers on projects. The folks that are actually on the ground doing that work.
Delivery is our strategy is a good line, but we do actually care and want to make sure that we're delivering as best as we can.
Q. What sets Agile Six apart from other government contractors, particularly in terms of what we were just talking about in that non-traditional approach to business development? You touched on delivery as our strategy, but we do many other things differently.
A. One of the most important things for me is that we don't work on commission. I get paid a salary like everybody else, and that's important because it means I'm not going to just look for any work so that we can win so I can get a commission. I want to make sure that good work is coming into Agile Six, and not necessarily just anything. Some people call it picky. I call it intentional.
One of the other things we say is that not all revenue is good revenue. We want to build an understanding of what work we want to do and why we're doing it. We want to make an impact but are willing to say no to work. One thing that sets us apart is that we are willing to say no, and we’re looking for purposeful work.
One of the other main differentiators is now that we have two other folks on our team, and we're relatively cross-functional in what we do. If you look at most companies, they have their contracts folks, their proposal folks, and their capture folks. We do everything, but are not looking to capture that work–we're looking to partner with folks and grow that work intentionally. But on the flip side, we're all working on the contracting side as far as the contracts with our partners, our government clients. We're doing proposal work together and pricing together. We're doing all these things together as a group and anyone can cover any of those things at any point. So for us, that's important because if I'm out, anybody can pick up the things I need to do, and vice versa. We all have each other's back, which is a big differentiator from other groups. We are very intentional about the way we work and the way we work together.
Q. What has been the biggest challenge that you've tackled at Agile Six, and how did you overcome it?
A. My biggest challenge was that, as we were growing and scaling as a company, I started as the twelfth or thirteenth person in the company. I don't remember the exact number, but now we're a company of about seventy, and we're still going to grow. When you're a company of thirteen, jumping in on operational, delivery, and proposal things, we were literally doing it all. I was billable. We were all doing everything and doing it as a group. And then, as you scale, everyone has to align around something. So the biggest challenge for me as we grew was finding my spot in this organization that I could excel in, where I could help in the most, and I'm still working on that. But I still want to jump in and be part of those conversations. The challenge for me is reeling it all in.
Q. Can you share a specific project or initiative you are extremely proud of at Agile Six?
A. A project for me that's probably the closest and most rewarding we've done is the Medicare Payment System Modernization effort, the strategic design effort contract we're on. Medicare is such an interesting topic, and for me, helping to modernize a system that is over 50 years old. It accounts for 4% of the U.S. GDP and is a complex group of systems.
Our work is more about digging in and understanding the Medicare systems - how they work, how they impact their users, how we work within that entire ecosystem - and looking for ways to make those connections. I'm so proud of this work because it's closer to how I see things. How do we connect those dots, and how do we improve a system by connecting those dots? The people on this project are amazing, and everyone is passionate about Medicare and helping the Medicare system get better. How do we make this ecosystem better, not only for the systems, and how do we modernize these systems from a technical standpoint? How do we do this for people who are applying for Medicare? How do we do this for physicians who get paid through Medicare? We've worked on this for the past four years, and all that work has done so much to determine what the next system could look like. Putting all those pieces together and connecting all those dots–I'm excited to see how the Medicare Payment System Modernization efforts continue.
Q. Which of Agile Six's core values - purpose, trust, wholeness, self-management, and inclusion - resonates with you the most and why?
A. It's always hard to choose just one, but trust has always been the main thing. All of the relationships we build over time are built on trust. Not only in Agile Six but also outside of Agile Six in the projects we're on, the vendors, other government clients, and people – everything we do is built on trust. Even with purpose, wholeness, self-management, and inclusion, all of those other values feel like they are still built on some level of trust. In order to find wholeness, you have to trust the folks around you to allow you to find that wholeness. For self-management, you have to trust that you're getting the information that's relevant to you to make decisions for yourself. Those are just examples, obviously, but everything we do is built on trust, and if trust isn't there, then what's the point?
Q. What has surprised you the most about working at Agile Six?
A. Since coming to Agile Six, we’ve evolved the way that we work, the way that we think about the work, the way that we think about our relationship to the work, the relationship to our employees, the relationship to each other, and the relationship to the space that we're in.
I don't want to say we're a completely different company than when I started, but we really are, and it's not bad. It's a really good thing. I know for Robert, that's always been his dream to have this kind of company with this type of feel he hadn't felt in other companies.
For me, what's been surprising is we've been able to do that, we've been allowed to do that, and we're successful at it as a company. We're always looking to improve ourselves. We're always thinking about how we could or should do things. How do other people in our company feel about the way we're doing things? It always surprises me that we can make those changes by getting that feedback and improving how we're doing those things. We're nimble enough – we didn't start that way, but we've allowed ourselves to move in that direction. That, in general, surprises me, and I'm super happy about it.
Q. What do you see as the future of civic tech, and how do you see yourself and Agile Six contributing?
A. Civic tech means a lot of different things to different people, but one of the issues right now is trying to avoid it becoming the next buzzword. The future of civic tech is being able to do these things at scale. For civic tech in general, as more and more people come on board and understand how to make things better and how to scale, that is what I'm hoping is the future. More and more people keep coming into this space. Growing the space will always be a good thing as long as it doesn't become just another buzzword. People who are passionate about it are doing these things for the right reasons. That's really where that growth needs to happen.
Q. As Chief Growth Officer, where do you see Agile Six growing?
A. Agile Six in the future and what we want to be in the future is not necessarily just a bigger version of ourselves today, but having a firmer sense of what it is that we're trying to do. As we evolve, we're always trying to instill in ourselves and others, both in Agile Six and outside of Agile Six, the way we work and why we're here.
Robert always says, “find your why.” I think at scale, it's always hard to make sure you still have that understanding of your why. When we're larger, we're still going to have our why, and as we grow, we're still going to be intentional about our work. We're going to be intentional about the people that work here, and we're going to come together to make us a stronger company. We're going to grow that sense of self. We are in this together. We're doing this together, and we're building this together. The people who come on can have their voices heard here as we grow. Robert had this vision of what he wanted this company to be and grow into, and we're now reaching a point where it's not just his vision anymore. I think now, as we grow, it will also be everybody's vision. I'm excited about that, and I'm looking forward to it.
A. We've talked a lot about our work, the purposeful work, how we're growing at Agile Six, how we think about business development and the projects we're doing. One of the things that I didn't mention enough, from my perspective and how we think of things at Agile Six, is that it's all about people. Not only the people at Agile Six, but the people we partner with at other companies and our government clients. It's about building those relationships with those people. They aren't transactions, they aren't contracts, and they aren't just projects. We're putting people first, and because of that, we're building a better company and building better outcomes.
Sixer Spotlight is an ongoing series to share the stories of our team. If Josh’s story piqued your interest in a career with Agile Six, explore our open roles.