Alumnus Ahmad Ishaq Thinks Outside the Cube

For many, government efficiency seems like a paradox. But for Ahmad Ishaq, GWSB ’07, it’s a passion.

Enter Bytecubed, a contracting firm that specializes in information technology. After moving from California, and working at places such as IBM, Ahmad realized a passion for using technology to tackle out-of-date programs (mostly used by the government). By using technology to implement changes in these systems, all of which are based on their client’s specific needs, Ahmed has created a lasting business.

“We’re really focused on large government programs – modernizing and transforming them in places where there are gaps,” says Ahmad. “We really want to modernize how large legislative government programs work.”

At Bytecubed they see themselves as problem solvers; each client presents the team with a set of problems that Bytecubed dissects. The team then pitches a solution tailored to the clients’ specific problems and needs. And these solutions can come in many different forms, from system changes and upkeep, to managerial and policy updates.

“What’s different about [Bytecubed] is that we roll up our sleeves and really understand the problem fundamentally,” says Ahmad. “We do everything; we reengineer the way the work flows … all in an effort to enable technology to be inserted to make the programs more efficient and more cost effective, and just a better experience for users.”

Bytecubed’s main objective is to save or resuscitate programs used by various government agencies – most of which, according to Ahmad, are very archaic.

“Whether it’s software, whether it’s methods, infrastructure, technology, we bring the cutting edge,” says Ahmad. “We look at what Silicon Valley is doing … and we try to bring the most modern approaches. Government has not traditionally done that which is why they are so far behind.”

Ahmad first encountered the problems he speaks of while completing a master’s degree in information systems technology at the School of Business. The program gave Ahmad unparalleled access to many of the agencies who are now his clients, allowing him to learn and network during group projects or presentations he participated in.

“I got to meet a lot of people, had great networking opportunities, and I think that’s what some people don’t appreciate, especially with GW, is the proximity and access, and the intimacy you get … it’s pretty much unmatched, especially when it comes to government contracting,” says Ahmad.

Ahmad says his passion for solving these problems comes from a rooted sense of patriotism. Though the company has a few clients in the private sector, it remains focused on providing their federal clients with much needed solutions.

“Whether its supporting the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community, the VA, whatever it is, you get some self-gratification and that makes this area unique because you don’t get that in most other places across the country,” says Ahmad.

“And a part of it is being very patriotic and caring about the problem. In Silicon Valley, you’ve got the Twitters and the Facebooks and the Ubers, and you get paid more with stock options and all that, but a lot of people aren’t getting the sense of fulfillment in doing that type of work, and they’ll take pay cuts because they believe in the type of work we’re trying to do.”

Bytecubed’s approach appears to be working for them. The company was recently cited as the 55th fastest growing company in 2016 by INC as well as one of the top places to work by the Washington Post. Soon Bytecubed will expand into products and more services for the private sector. But for right now, they are happy to continue doing the work they’re doing.

“Right now we’re enjoying the culture of fixing problems,” says Ahmad. “We try to make Bytecubed a good place to work. We’ve got a really fun, very personal atmosphere, very welcoming, open, and collaborative. We encourage innovation and to think outside the box.”

“The way I look at it, until all the problems of the federal government are fixed, there’s still problems for us to solve, and we’re going to continue.” —Kelly Danver

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