2017 Rising Star Awards

Michael Whitaker

Vice President of Emerging Solutions, ICF


Fostering a commitment to innovation in traditional environments can be rewarding, but it can also mean constantly pushing acceptable norms — and some hot buttons.

As ICF’s vice president of emerging solutions, Michael Whitaker pushes those buttons deftly to move innovation culture forward at the global consulting firm and in the U.S. federal IT world. He turned his eye to the federal IT market in 2014 after a career in civil engineering and sustainable urban infrastructure.

“Innovation is a key competency for ICF, and we created the emerging solutions role to institutionalize this capability,” said Ellen Glover, executive vice president at ICF.

Accordingly, Whitaker developed an innovation framework at ICF that balances the dual institutional demands for innovation and execution. Indeed, his supporters credit him with being able to balance quality, risk and innovation to meet current and future needs.

His approach to innovation does not depend on individuals, and he has instead emphasized the importance of innovation across the organization’s structure, business processes, incentives and training.

Whitaker seeks to spread that ethos across the federal IT landscape by contributing articles to industry publications and presenting ideas at ACT-IAC’s Institute for Innovation, which advances federal IT missions. He also helped organize ACT-IAC’s innovation workshops and recruit keynote speakers for the organization’s 2017 Management of Change conference.

Click here for more on all the 2017 Rising Stars

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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