Business development leader looks at high-strategy alliances to grow capabilities
Although Marie Russell hasn't been with Maximus for long, the new Vice President of the Federal Technology Alliance Partners is setting her sights on developing business relationships.
Russell has a high-level strategy role responsible for identifying new business development opportunities from a collaboration between Maximus and various technology service providers.
"My job is to work with our technology alliance partners and engage with them from a business development perspective, with their sales teams and our sales teams, to expand our offering to our federal clients in a strategic, differentiated way."
Right now, Russell wants to focus on cultivating the partnerships Maximus already has to find new opportunities that help the business — and partners' businesses — grow.
She is looking for proactive solutions for Maximus' clients, finding the best services to bring into discussions to anticipate their needs.
In her first six weeks, Russell implemented a simple strategy to revisit those existing relationships and explore new opportunities to provide "differentiated solutions" for federal clients and citizens.
The strategy? "Lunch and learns."
Russell's lunch and learns can be any working lunch meeting for collaboration or training. Her version allows business development representatives from both Maximus and partner organizations to pitch their value propositions, provide market insights, and identify shared goals.
"Some of the partners are going to be a higher priority just because of their capacity to support us in the marketplace, support our efforts, invest with us from both a business development effort as well as go-to-market," she said. "We want to put marketing activities in place to create a buzz in the marketplace and help create awareness for both of our organizations."
Russell said she's spent her entire career handling marketing, business development, and sales tactics for telecommunications and technology businesses.
"I've done channel work. I've set up partner programs throughout my career, both sales and marketing, and have worked with partner organizations at all levels to build long-term relationships," she said. "I think my experience – building the confidence internally and then with our partners – we can drive something new to benefit both organizations, so everyone wins."
Russell, a Pennsylvania native, grew up rooting for the Nittany Lions and later graduated from Penn State University. However, the Washington, D.C. area is a second home to her; it's where she started her career and earned her MBA from The George Washington University School of Business.
Before coming to Maximus, Russell served in multiple strategic leadership roles during her eight years at Juniper Networks, a networking and AI solutions vendor. At Juniper, she managed marketing and business development strategy and global partnership programs. Most recently while living in London, she served as the Senior Director of EMEA Field and Partner Marketing.
But she's ready to take on this new challenge at Maximus.
Russell believes that Maximus is in a brand-new stage of business growth. Pointing to the acquisitions of other businesses in the sector, including Attain and Veterans Evaluation Services, Inc., she's confident that now couldn't be a more perfect time for her to join the company.
"I see that we're in our infancy at Maximus when it comes to partnerships, with the technology alliance partners," she said. "I think there's so much opportunity in the marketplace, and Maximus has a lot of momentum."
She also sees that Maximus' partners are just as enthusiastic about the potential.
"I think the partners see that momentum as well. They want to be part of it," she said. "That's encouraging that they see us as important to them and their business. They are excited about the opportunity to work with Maximus and to help us in the marketplace to be more successful with them."
Cybersecurity is one of the most significant factors for Russell and the Strategic Alliance Partner team when selecting the most strategically beneficial partnerships. As threats of data breaches have sharply increased and evolved over the past decade, it's become even more critical for private-sector organizations and federal institutions to improve cybersecurity at every level.
That's why Russell and the Strategic Alliance Partner team are considering new partners in cybersecurity to make air-tight security features part of how Maximus differentiates its solutions in the marketplace.
"Cybersecurity is a growing focus for Maximus and threaded through everything we do," she said. "It is the No. 1 priority for chief information officers, too, whether they sit in the government or the private sector. So, it's good to see Maximus's investment in that area."
While Russell is focused on engaging current technology alliance partnerships and fostering new relationships with cybersecurity providers, she also wants to hear in what other areas Maximus employees feel they need support to better serve clients.
"There is going to be some additional motion to bring on some additional partners in cybersecurity," she said. "But we welcome, from the team, if there are certain technology areas where they feel we need additional support from potential new partners."
Another goal she is passionate about is improving the customer experience for all users, especially citizens who need to access government services.
"These partnerships will continue to build upon contact center work with digital services and other technologies that our partners bring to bear to improve the overall customer and citizen experience for the better," Russell added.
She feels fulfilled that her work with these technology partnerships could make a positive difference in the lives of many U.S. citizens and residents.
"It's important work," she said. "There's a lot of goodness in that, and the partners see that, too."