Behind the List with Michael Hawkins, President & CEO of Netizen Corp.

Hiring veterans in a growing field


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Advancements in technology have been growing at alarming speeds over the past several years and they are changing the way we do business.

From the first computers decades ago to the vast of array of new smartphones and tablets, embracing new trends in technology is imperative to keeping up in the business world.

Here to answer this week's “Behind the List” questions and offer insight into software development and technology in business is Michael Hawkins, CEO of Netizen Corp. in Fogelsville.

Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Netizen Corp. been operating in the Greater Lehigh Valley and what are its primary services?

Michael Hawkins: Netizen was established in September of 2013 and has been operational since December 2013 when it was certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs as Service Disabled Veteran Owned, allowing us access to sole-source and set-aside contracts with government agencies. It has been in the Lehigh Valley this entire time.

Our primary services to commercial clients are managed information technology solutions centered around cloud computing, data analysis and software development.

What this means is that we show growing businesses how to leverage the power and scale of the latest IT services and products to streamline their operations. For example, by offering business automation solutions to manufacturers or logistics companies who need to manage large volumes of data and perform certain actions whenever a condition is triggered, like a piece of equipment failing, to an item placed on back order, to someone reaching a certain location by GPS tracking.

We also work locally with e-commerce clients and develop Web and mobile applications for collaboration and information management.

On the government side, we focus on many of the same things, but with the addition of cyber security. We are in the midst of working on obtaining several cyber security related contracts to enhance our nation's defenses in the Internet realm.

LVB: What have been some of the biggest opportunities and hardships that Netizen has encountered throughout its years in business?

Hawkins: As we've only been in business about a year, the biggest opportunities have come with our ability to reach government clients through our unique and cost-saving approaches to government IT and our special status as veteran owned.

As far as hardships, finding specialized talent to fill roles has been one particular area of strife so far, but we have started to overcome this by beginning to formulate a special training program for veterans and working with many local organizations on personnel placement.

LVB: Does Netizen distribute its services locally, nationally and/or globally?

Hawkins: At this point in time, being young, we concentrate mostly in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the country, areas where we have many contacts and personnel with expertise to draw upon.

LVB: How does Netizen directly stimulate the local economy of the Lehigh Valley?

Hawkins: We stimulate the economy locally in a couple of ways. First of all, we have begun hiring locally and have directly sought qualified veterans to fill positions in our technical and other operations. Our primary target for employees are veterans who are looking for another way to serve their community and country after service, but may need a little training to enter a highly technical field.

This is where we come in. Too few employers recognize the vast potential of a veteran, and what military service provides them beyond what is in their resume, but we have made it a point to seek them out actively to create a cohesive team of people who know what teamwork is all about.

Secondly, our status which allows for preference in federal contracting, and the nature of our business which is very virtual, will allow us to bring revenue received from [Washington] D.C.-based government clients directly to the Lehigh Valley and our headquarters team here, upon which we will continue to grow and expand.

LVB: What does the future look like for Netizen? Does it have plans for growth?

Hawkins: The future is bright indeed. In less than a year of operation, we have already begun hiring in earnest and demonstrating our prowess as an innovative cloud software solutions provider in the commercial sector, and the federal sector is ramping up fast as of this nascent summer with the potential to acquire at least a handful of lucrative federal government clients in the defense, health care and other sectors.

Two to five years from now, we intend to expand our operations nationally, even globally, but still with a keen emphasis on the fast-growing Lehigh Valley markets. We intend to form partnerships with government and commercial organizations locally, at the state level and even federally to work cooperatively to harness the power of the Internet and open data to change the way government, businesses and citizens interact among themselves and between one another. These are truly exciting times.

Compiled by christopher holland

Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland is a researcher for Lehigh Valley Business and blogs on arts and entertainment in the region.



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