Matt McQueen, Vice President and Chief Engagement & Communications Officer, Peraton, began his role as Chamber Board of Directors Chairman on July 1st. Our entire BOD can be found here.
How has your background in national defense prepared you for this role?
I've had the honor of serving in the national security contractor community for more than 20 years. Over that time, both the threats and technology complexities within our customer set have increased exponentially. We've learned that problem solving is rarely linear and it takes diversity of thought, experience, approach, and partnerships in order to successfully address these challenges. I think that this is very much akin to how the Chamber approaches the issues it chooses to take on in support of its members. By bringing together some of the best and brightest business leaders in our region, coupled with a best-in-class staff, we're able to focus our agenda on what matters most and drive the right business outcomes.
I'm very much looking forward to bringing my experience and relationships to my role as Chair. By focusing on results, and inviting the right people to participate in the discussion, the Chamber will continue to play a pivotal role in addressing some of the most complex challenges across our region.
What is your vision for the Chamber and what are some of the goals you hope to achieve during your tenure?
I'm incredibly proud of the many accomplishments of our Chamber, its members, and staff, including its laser focus on regional leadership, workforce, DE&I, and advocacy efforts around our region. More and more, our members are looking to belong to an organization that helps foster constructive, civil discourse across the business community, no matter the topic. Through our partnership with organizations like the Sorensen Institute, we will continue to advance that paradigm.
It's also critical that we continue to implement and execute on our revised governance model. By expanding the ability of members, board members, and board alumni to further their engagement in Chamber efforts, we can tap into some truly unrivaled expertise that advances our business agenda. I plan to work with the officers, board, and staff leadership to advance our stature in the region; to ensure that we are widely recognized as the go-to regional authority on issues that matter most to the business community.
And equally important, we will continue to listen to the business community. The Chamber prioritizes what matters most to our members to ensure a positive business climate in Northern Virginia and beyond. During my tenure we will continue to actively listen to and engage with members, large and small, and other key stakeholders so that we are best positioned to respond to current and future business needs across the region. Our business-focused policy and advocacy efforts, led by Clayton Medford, are second to none and will continue to reflect the priorities of our membership.
How do you think the Chamber has grown over the past year?
Over the course of the last several months, the Chamber has proactively revamped and simplified its membership dues structure. As a result, we continue to expand our membership roster. The numbers alone are impressive, but what stands out most to me is, with the backdrop of a pandemic, is that the Chamber has continued to thrive in ways that we couldn't even envision just a few short years ago. The level of engagement, driven by a combination of strong programmatic in-person, hybrid, and virtual events has been significant and has led to a significant member retention rate. This tells me that in spite of tremendous obstacles the Chamber's value continues to resonate with our members. And I can't understate the resilience and - frankly - creativity of the Chamber staff. As other organizations struggled to survive, Julie [Coons] and the entirety of the Chamber team stepped up to look for opportunities to deliver continued value through thought leadership and engagement to our members, both virtually and in person.
More philosophically, I would be remiss if I didn't highlight the growth that we've seen in the area of DE&I. Our DE&I Board of Advisors, expertly co-chaired by our soon-to-be immediate past-chair Luanne Gutermuth of LSG Solutions and John Allen of Wells-Fargo, has made tremendous progress over the course of the last year connecting the diversity within our business community in very meaningful ways. As the council continues its work, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the best practices we've gleaned from our work made available to all regional business stakeholders. This council has been a compass as we work to advocate for policies that create an equitable future for everyone in our region.
What would you say to a business considering joining the Chamber?
If you and your company are committed to being part of something transformational for our region, the Chamber is the place for you. The access, the inclusivity, the advocacy, and the results provided by the Chamber are built around a forward-leaning strategic plan that reflects the prioritized business needs of our region. We would be honored if you would consider adding your voice to ours.
What do you see as the biggest challenge or opportunity facing the Chamber right now?
The last two years have proven that while our region is resilient, we are still suffering from a workforce shortage. This is an area of concern that keeps many of us up at night. That said, building on an already strong foundation, I see so much opportunity for the Chamber to continue its role in advocating for policies and programs that will support the talent pipeline needs of our members and other regional stakeholders. The Chamber's efforts to preserve Virginia's right-to-work status is one of the key elements of our advocacy platform and legislative agenda, reinforced through our Policy Committee and PAC. Through our longstanding role in promoting Northern Virginia as an ideal place for businesses to establish and grow, we can use this period of ill-defined "normalcy" to double down on our efforts to promote a positively differentiated business climate in the region.
Tell us about Peraton's commitment to Veterans.
The best way for me to answer this is by reflecting on our core value of "honor those we serve." None of us at Peraton take this responsibility lightly given our role in supporting national security around the world. As we say, our armed forces have the courage to show up; they leave their families for something bigger than themselves. We owe them a debt of gratitude today and every day.
Peraton employs more than 3,000 veterans across the country and has a number of initiatives, including our VALOR employee resource group, to support them. I welcome you to learn more here: https://careers.peraton.com/military-veterans/
What local boards or nonprofits are you involved with and why?
I currently chair the Advisory Board of George Mason University's Honors College. This board is comprised of a fantastic group of business and civic executives committed to being a force multiplier for the mission of the College. We focus on highlighting to key stakeholders the work and impact the students and alumni of the Honors College have on our world and the asset that it, and the entirety of the University, is to our region.
I also serve as a member of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce board and look forward to partnering with Fred Thompson, Barry DuVal and the Virginia Chamber's board and staff on matters of regional importance to both organizations.
What is your life like "off the clock"? What sort of hobbies or passions do you have outside of work?
I am passionate about travel. Prior to the pandemic it was not uncommon for me to hop on a plane just to collect miles (aka "the mileage run"). It provided me with an opportunity to binge on all of the shows and personal emails that I missed during the work week.
And of course, the time with my kids is sacrosanct. Whether it’s kicking the soccer ball or building a LEGO set, I try to take advantage of spending as much time with them as possible (or that they're willing to put up with!).
What's one thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I spent five summers and winter breaks (high school and college) working in a funeral home in my hometown. This experience reinforced for me the value of family and friends and drew out a specific set of empathy and human interaction skills that I still use today.
Tell us about a favorite book you've read and why it resonated with you.
I am a huge Bill Bryson fan. His style of communication makes anything from him an easy read for me - he boils down the complexity of life, society, culture, and even the human body into something that is always insightful and humorous. While he hasn't written for a couple of years, "One Summer: America 1927" was the last book of his I read.