Comedian Rodney Dangerfield is perhaps best known for his line “I don’t get no respect.” One wonders if, in a previous life, Dangerfield was a chief operating officer. While the president and chief executive officer are accountable for establishing an organization’s goals – and meeting them – over time it is the COO who is charged with delivering results on a day-to-day basis. Operating down in the trenches, the COO is often overlooked and under-appreciated, but make no mistake: A company with a strong No. 2 holds a tremendous edge over its competitors.
To offer COOs a little respect, ExecutiveBiz has assembled its list of 10 Beltway chief operating officers who are especially instrumental in driving business growth and sound operational efficiency for their companies. You can find these 10 executives listed below in order of height from shortest to tallest (just kidding, they are not listed in any particular order).
Prior assumed the COO role for SAIC in October of last year, previously serving as president of SAIC’s Intelligence, Security and Technology Group. Prior played a leadership role in the company’s October 2006 IPO, which involved a strategy to keep employees focused on client work during what can often be a challenging internal culture shift. Whether it is working on the IPO, global acquisition activity or establishing strategic alliances, Prior has proven adept at marrying day-to-day execution with the company’s long-term vision.
As COO, Prior serves as the company’s highest-ranking DC-area executive, and will continue to lock in on delivering top- and bottom-line growth for the rest of the year. Prior also remains intensely focused on the details of business fundamentals and execution, and expertly fulfills the day-to-day COO duties by tapping into extensive experience in program execution, and financial controls and functions. In an ExecutiveBiz interview last year, Prior cited “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done,” by Larry Bossidy as his favorite business book. In Prior’s case, he has clearly been practicing what he reads — with great results.
Mendler, the company’s first COO, is no stranger to our ExecutiveBiz top 10 lists. The employee-owned technology solutions provider relies on Mendler to manage execution of corporate strategy during what has been a highly active growth period – both organically and through acquisitions of Anteon and LogConGroup.
Mendler views her role as one of chief administrative officer; the person responsible for leading the company’s day-to-day strategy and execution. The formation of the COO position was in fact a testament to Alion’s growth, and with no predecessor or hand off, Mendler has made it her own, while continuing to play a lead role in executing the vision of the company.
Ray Winn, BearingPoint Public Services
In 2007 BearingPoint Public Services was like the New York Giants of the prime contractor community. While the usual suspects were grabbing headlines, BearingPoint quietly and matter-of-factly closed major deals and rose to No. 24 in Washington Technology’s Top 100 Federal Prime Contractors listing, an increase of over 60 percent during a three-year period.
One man responsible for helping the public services unit experience such dramatic growth is Winn. In leading the business and operational organizations for the $1.4 billion public services practice, he has consistently helped to register sizable increases in operating margins and profitability. We should also point out that if President Bush misses a Cabinet meeting and needs an update, Winn might be just the man to provide it: BearingPoint Public Services oversees and supports client delivery services at all 15 Cabinet-level agencies.
Terry Glasgow, NCI Information Systems, Inc.
It didn’t take long – roughly three months – for the leadership at NCI to realize Glasgow was uniquely suited to improve efficiencies and drive new business across the company’s organizations. After joining the NCI as Executive Vice President of Federal Programs in February 2004, Glasgow rose to Deputy COO and then in May of that same year to COO, reporting to Michael Solley, President of NCI.
Since that time, Glasgow has managed the day-to-day operations of the company, which was named to the Washington Technology Top 100 Federal Prime Contractors list in 2007. In January of last year, Glasgow added the role of president to his duties after Solley stepped down. In naming Glasgow president, NCI chairman and chief executive offer Charles Narang cited his operational leadership and role in driving a robust new business pipeline, one that the company expects to grow this year.
Robert A. Coleman, ManTech
Coleman has held the COO mantle since September 2004, and since that time has led day-to-day operations while playing a key role in helping ManTech grow both strategically and through acquisition. His acumen was on display when ManTech acquired prime government contractor McDonald Bradley Inc. for $76.5 billion last year. Coleman was CEO and President of Integrated Data Systems Corporation (IDS) until ManTech acquired it in February 2003.
While ManTech hasn’t quite yet met its goal of becoming a $5 billion company, it won’t take long — based on the rapid growth and activity Coleman has helped to usher in over the past few years. And throughout the acquisitions and growth — ManTech was named one of Business 2.0 magazine’s 100 Fastest Growing Technology Companies for the second consecutive year and to the Deloitte & Touche list of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Virginia — Coleman has not taken his eye off day-to-day operations.
Gary Hobbs, Unisys Federal Systems
As is the case with top COOs, Hobbs wears multiple hats for the IT services and solutions provider. At Unisys, he is not only responsible for sales, service delivery, account management and driving profitable revenue growth within defense agencies, but also improving the overall operational effectiveness across the Federal systems organization.
Over his 30-year career, Hobbs has developed particular expertise reengineering organizational structures to maximize efficient operations, as well as generating new business opportunities. He is also part owner of ‘Ferrari of Washington.’
While in the Navy, Wilson served on a number of submarines and his final tour was with the Tomahawk cruise missile program. When it comes to cruise missiles, locking in on a strategic direction to hit the intended target is essential. Wilson has applied that instinct to his executive role with Stanley since joining the employee-owned systems integrator in 1989.
Wilson oversees Stanley’s account managers and executives responsible for customer relationships, revenue growth and client base expansion. In addition, he is responsible for corporate development activities and setting the direction for strategic services, corporate communications, marketing, business intelligence and proposal activities.
Aided by Wilson’s efforts, Stanley executed a successful IPO in October 2006 (though the majority of stock is owned by employees), and the company has grown to 3,500 employees and become a go-to integrator for Federal agencies mission critical needs. This year has been a busy one so far: the company was recently awarded a $570 million contract to continue support of the Passport Program, and in January the company was named – again – to the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
Dan Johnson, General Dynamics Information Technology
Johnson is another frequent focus of the ExecutiveBiz blog, most recently when it was announced in February that he would take over for the retiring Michael E. Chandler. Johnson is no stranger to the COO role, serving in this capacity at Anteon Corp., until his current employer acquired it.
Johnson officially assumes the reins in April, and will focus on continuing the firm’s reputation for delivering exceptional customer service in the areas of IT, systems engineering and systems integration to the Department of Defense, national intelligence, federal civilian and state/local agencies.
Like Mendler, Gray was hired as INDUS’ first chief operating officer. In that role, he has assumed responsibility for leading both operations and business development, while integrating the company’s business development efforts with ongoing operations. Though his role is a demanding one, he still believes that executing both functions in a hands-on manner is vital.
As the company grows, Gray is focusing on making sure that each business unit receives the resources it needs to succeed, while holding them accountable for results. Gray’s track record at Anteon and technical background serves him well as he seeks to help INDUS become a $300M+ company four years from now – a goal that will require aggressive organic growth as well as M&A activity.
While Leslie has only held the position of President and COO at the Federal IT services and solutions provider for about four months, it is certain that we will all be hearing a great deal more from both Apptis – and Leslie – as 2008 progresses. With Leslie on board, Apptis will continue its focus on an “…organizational strategy that emphasizes its broad technology services offerings while expanding the company’s value-added reseller business as the Apptis Technology Solutions business.”
To continue to usher along Apptis’ growth in the Federal market – it ranked No. 44 on Washington Technology’s 2007 Top 100 list of the largest government prime contractors – Leslie will tap 13 years of technical and management experience at EDS. While day-to-day operations will be a vital part of his role, Leslie’s background operating in entrepreneurial climates – most recently as part of the private-equity-backed management team that founded Apogen Technologies – will surely keep Apptis innovative and nimble as it grows.
Brian Lustig is co-founder of Lustig Communications, a Rockville, MD-based communications firm that works with growing technology and government IT firms. Lustig is also a contributor to local business and industry publications.