2007 Rising Star: Jonathan Benett

Job: Blackstone Technology Group
Position: Manager

Career in brief

Benett has been in his current job for a year and a half and in the government information technology community for eight years.

Why Benett is a Rising Star
Jonathan Benett showed up for work with a sleeping bag one day in his first two weeks on the job at Blackstone Technology Group, a small-business information technology consulting company.

He figured he might have to spend the night to support members of a team working on two bid proposals that he was told were extremely important to the company.

“He didn’t have to stay the night, but the fact that he showed up with a sleeping bag and he was prepared to stay the night in the office in his first two weeks at work was a telling sign” that he would be a great team player, said Jesse O’Gorman, managing director of Blackstone Technology Group’s federal government practice.

Benett, he said, is one of those rare people who make not only a good first impression but also a good lasting impression. At 32, Benett is a contributing member of the federal IT community as one of the founders of Young AFCEANs, a government/industry group affiliated with AFCEA International’s Bethesda, Md., chapter.

Turn the clock back only eight years. Benett, a Florida native, knew he wanted to live and work in Washington. With a higher-education background in sports management and marketing, he answered an ad for a business development person and got the job “not knowing anything about the federal government, limited IT and nothing about business development.”

Benett learned fast, however, in large part because of the social-networking skills that are second nature to him. “I’m the person who brings together the 10 friends who haven’t seen each other in two years for a big outing.” However, he wasn’t his high school class president or even active in organizations in college. Benett’s big leap into organizations and volunteering didn’t begin until he started his business career. “My natural tendency is to be everybody’s best friend,” he said. “The best part of my job every day is relationships — hands down.”

Managing client relationships with the Education Department is a big part of his day job as a manager at Blackstone Technology Group. Building relationships is also the focus of his after-hours volunteer work as vice president of programs for AFCEA’s Bethesda chapter. “I love to be out at the breakfasts, the lunches, the conferences, talking to people,” he said. “I love to connect people, ideas and organizations — people who have common interests, people who didn’t know they had common interests. That’s what I really get a kick out of.”

Benett said he caught the public-service bug from Alan Balutis, former Commerce Department chief information officer who was Veridyne’s president and chief operating officer when Benett worked there for a year and a half. Benett said he and other early career industry managers he knows would like to enter public service at some point in their careers. “If the government could open up the gates and allow it to be easier to get into the public sector for a five-year term or for a lifetime,” he said, “I think you would find there is an incredible amount of talent out there interested in public service.”

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