Over a year ago, Cheryl Janey became president of the Civil Programs at Harris Corp. She had come to Harris from Northrop Grumman where she served as vice president of business development and strategy for the commercial, state and local group of the company’s information technology sector. In the following Q&A, Janey fills us in on what accomplishments she’s met along the way in her new position, and where she’d like to help steer Harris Civil over the coming year.
We last spoke to you in April of last year. What’s new since then?
Cheryl Janey: We’ve got and continue to have great relationships at the FAA, where we’re helping them think through their long term challenges. Not only do we have good work there, but this past year we took FTI — the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure — from deployment into operation. That’s been years in the making, and one that’s been well recognized inside the FAA. I would put that high on my list of accomplishments over the last year.
What do you make of the “green” movement in the government? Are you focusing on that?
Cheryl Janey: Absolutely. We believe the “green” movement has considerable potential, not just within in our domestic government but worldwide and we’re very excited about the market. The energy crisis we’re seeing right now with oil prices is underscoring the timeliness of the issue and highlighting the need for focus. The market appears to be in the early stages and may allow us to bring some of the technologies Harris already utilizes in supporting our many weather customers. We already run weather ground systems and do a lot of weather work for the FAA. Bringing solutions to the whole “green” movement in the environment in general is something we believe has definite growth potential.
Tell us about your M&A strategy — how do you see that play out amid current market conditions?
Cheryl Janey: We’re always looking for both organic and inorganic growth. Harris acquired Multimax about 15 months ago and will continue to look for businesses that complement our strategic growth plans.
What has been your biggest challenge today?
Cheryl Janey: Biggest challenge — differentiation. There are many new entrants in the civil space right now. Lots of companies have seen the flattening of the DOD budget and are looking for ways to sustain their growth targets and are looking into civil for assistance. It’s not as tech heavy as the DOD so finding differentiation and establishing yourself as equals can be a little more challenging than it is in the DOD or Intel.
What will your business unit look like in 18 months?
Cheryl Janey: Harris Civil will have added domain depth in a couple of areas to complement the technical depth that we already have, like in the environment, energy and environment/weather areas. Harris Civil will be bigger: We’ll have more feet on the street, and more focused growth. We’ll be expanding internationally, particularly with our aviation business. You may see us taking our aviation business beyond FAA, both internationally and potentially to airports and other ways like that.
What advice would you give a small business wanting to partner with a Harris division?
Cheryl Janey: Focus very much on what you do. Know what you do well and promote yourself for what you do well — that would be my recommendation. Harris, like other companies, does business with many companies large and small. The best teams and the best relationships occur when we are each playing to our strongest suit. We’re each doing what we do very well and bringing that together to a customer situation.
Changing administrations — is there any impact it will have on your long range planning?
Cheryl Janey: It may throw the budgets into question. I think the industry is concerned about of the potential for continuing resolutions again this fall, just as we were last fall. In the short term, however, we don’t think that it will have a strong effect. As department and agency leaderships change, new opportunities will likely be created. They will likely build on what’s been before, or begin some new initiatives — and we’ll still need to be able to respond quickly to that.
What’s the most interesting or fun part of your job?
Cheryl Janey: Meeting people — our customers — and working with them to think through hard problems that aren’t even well defined yet, thinking through the “Here’s the business need, now how do I work through that?” We do that with our government customers as well as with our teaming partners, whether it’s the big SI’s or small businesses.
How would you describe your group culture?
Cheryl Janey: We have sort of a “can do” maverick culture. Our CEO’s got a mantra of “Growth, Innovation, and Leadership,” and that’s what we’re all about. Our group is very much focused on growth; we break tradition and try new things. We’ve got a healthy mix of long term legacy as Harris people work with new people coming in from the outside. That diversity of thought helps shape a group culture that’s a little entrepreneurial, a little traditional and a lot forward focused.
How would your employees describe you as a leader?
Cheryl Janey: Me as a leader? I’m the vision carrier, an energetic cheerleader. I like being out and being seen and being involved. I’m into big ideas, not the little details. I let my staff do their jobs and help steer the ship. This is our ship — the civilian business for Harris. And everybody’s got a role.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Cheryl Janey: The Harris fiscal year began in June-July, so this is still the beginning of a new year for us. I am excited to keep the momentum going and sail this ship toward new successes!
Interview with Cheryl Janey conducted by JD Kathuria
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