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Executive Spotlight: Matt Foosaner, Head of Federal and SLED East Sales at RingCentral

Matt Foosaner

Federal, SLED Sales


Executive Spotlight: Matt Foosaner, Head of Federal and SLED East Sales at RingCentral

Matt Foosaner, head of federal and state, local and education sales at RingCentral recently participated in an Executive Spotlight interview with the Potomac Officers Club to talk about his career journey in GovCon, the leaders who have inspired him along the way and the advice he has for driving success in a competitive industry. In addition to his work at RingCentral, Foosaner is also a board member for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Read below for Matt’s full interview. 

What can you tell us about your background and how you’ve been able to adapt to the ever-changing challenges of the federal landscape over the course of your career?

I have 29 years of experience in telecommunications, 25 of which have been in leadership roles across sales, operations, marketing, engineering and tactical operations. 26 of the 29 years have been focused on mission critical operations in government (civilian and military, classified and unclassified) supporting over 1,000 federal, state and local agencies. 

My focus has been on having a well-rounded career that enables me to understand the full customer lifecycle — from sales and contract negotiations through implementation and ongoing operation support — as well as the government client’s perspective, which I have gained through integrating with agencies and even attending government graduate programs including the National Defense University College of Information & Cyberspace, the U.S. Army War College and George Washington University’s Center for Excellence in Public Leadership.

When did you decide to pursue a career in the federal landscape and what were the key tasks that you wanted to complete? Any bigger goals you still want to accomplish?

I was raised by a father who started as a GS-5 law clerk when I was born and who rose to a bureau chief SES Level-IV at the Federal Communications Commission. His father was a U.S. Army Signal Corps wireless radio operator in the 1930s. I am, in fact, a third generation communicator.

My first job out of college was as a federal investigator for the U.S. OPM, where I conducted national security and suitability background investigations. I pivoted to the private sector after meeting my wife who was an Army brat and did not want to move every two years. So, I had a simple decision: pursue a career in government or marry the woman of my dreams and find an alternative path to fulfill my professional desire of doing something meaningful for the government. I believe I have been able to accomplish both (having a great marriage and meaningfully contributing to the betterment of government operations). 

I have had a very unique career as a private sector employee having been involved in supporting law enforcement and defense agencies during national special security events, Presidentially-declared disasters, joint terrorism task forces, agency-wide technology implementations, field training exercises and a variety of other classified operations. 

I have had the distinguished privilege of receiving awards from the director of the FBI for JTTF support, from the director of the Secret Service for both NSSE and agency-wide implementation support, and from the honorary sheriff in two counties in Florida. I am also a Fed100 winner in 2006 for Hurricane Katrina support, and I’m a colonel aide de camp for the governor’s staff in Tennessee.      

What do you believe are your core strengths as a leader and what lessons taught you the most about driving success?

My core strength lies in my near obsession to learn and understand. I am hyper-focused on putting myself in my federal government client’s perspective to intimately understand their pressures and pains (budget, strategic, cyber compliance, workforce and more). This requires constant research and review of the published strategic plans and even just informally interviewing my federal contacts. I understand that details matter (I learned that from Marine Corps training). 

Leading by example and from the front is critical, and you have to be willing to do what you ask others on your team to do and be there with them as they are struggling and accomplishing. I would also say that I am a ruthless advocate for folks on my team, in resources, training, development and even individual requests. I do not measure my leadership success based on my own accomplishments, but rather on what my team members have achieved.

Who are the executives that have inspired you the most over the course of your career?

The first executive to inspire me is my father. He managed to build a career and foster strong senses of work ethic and community service, despite there being some challenging family medical issues along the way. Our family motto is, ‘it is not how you start, but how you finish.’ He faced adversity but always put his team first.

The second executive to inspire me was my first mentor, Karen Kochar. She took time with me when I was a young project engineering team member. She guided me and told me that I needed to build my own career development when we were at a start-up that did not have a manager development program. Karen told me to build my career like a pyramid, cross-functional at first, then adding layers of leadership, then P&L. The goal was to develop a holistic approach to understand all elements of commercial communications providers.

The third executive who has inspired me is Michelle Delaune, CEO for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Outside of my family, what I am most passionate about is supporting the fight against child exploitation. I have been involved with the NCMEC since 2005. I am a board member, I created and now chair the technology committee, I serve on the law enforcement committee and I am a member of the executive committee. 

Michelle has spent her entire 24-year career at the center, which is the nation’s largest and most influential child protection organization — leading the fight to protect children and creating vital resources for them and the people who keep them safe. Because every child deserves a safe childhood. Michelle is not only an amazing leader who is committed to developing people she works with, but she is truly inspirational in her commitment to make the world a better place.

How would you advise someone entering our industry to build their resume and advance their careers to be in the best position in the years to come?

I am a big believer in really trying to understand as much of the business as you can. Don’t limit yourself to a linear career path. The best sellers understand the operational requirements. The best engineers understand the key marketing and product drivers. The best vendors seek to understand the details of their federal agencies in terms of researching key executive strategic plans and the nuances of the budgeting and compliance impacts to agencies.

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