Stan Griswold Jr. joined ITT Exelis as vice president of strategy and business development for the information systems division in June 2010.
He oversees growth and market-focused resource allocation strategies for the advanced systems and technologies provider.
He recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about how his technical background has helped him transition into upper management positions during his career and growth areas the company is currently pursuing.
ExecutiveBiz: Tell our readers a little about what it’s like to be vice president of strategy and business development at Exelis’ information systems division.
Stan Griswold: The information systems division of Exelis is about a $1.3 billion business. My job here is to lead our strategy and business development activity.
What that generally entails is working with the leadership in our three different business areas. We have businesses focused on air traffic management systems, command, control and communication systems and advanced information systems.
We have an annual event where we look at our business strategically, assess the markets and set some vectors on where we want to go.. We then develop plans and actions around implementing the strategies that we can take to address the market.
It’s really a continuum of activity from assessing the market to working with the teams to implement our strategies to serve our customers and advance our market position.
ExecutiveBiz: You mentioned expansion and “attacking the market” as your everyday responsibility. In what areas does Exelis see potential growth?
Griswold: We see one area that we’re particularly interested in including organic growth and potentially acquisitive growth as well.
We’re very interested in the global aviation solutions market and have a good position with the FAA as they modernize the U.S. air traffic control system. Our global focus is to support modernization of ANSP’s- Air Navigation Service Providers. In the US the FAA is our ANSP, and our work here gives us the technical capability to address global opportunities.
So, as we look at the capabilities and the requirements for modernizing ANSPs globally, that’s something that we’re interested in.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the cutting-edge products Exelis is currently working on?
Griswold: I mentioned the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) initiative to modernize air traffic management from a ground-based air traffic control system to a satellite-based air traffic management system. The current program Exelis has with the FAA is the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast system, the cornerstone program of NextGen.
The system leverages GPS position on aircraft and connects all of the surveillance data from the FAA’s existing radar infrastructure with the new position data from the aircraft to create the most up to date situation awareness of all the aircraft as they are traveling across the U.S.
national airspace system today.
We’re 5 years into rolling that system out, which is working very well. The rollout is expected to be complete by 2013.
We’re very excited about the capability that that’s going to bring to the airlines for safety and efficiencies in flight including reduced fuel costs and fewer delays.
We’re also bidding on other jobs with the FAA. We hope to hear soon about the FAA’s next program under the NextGen umbrella of contracts called the Data Communications Integrated Services contract which could be awarded within the next 60 days.
We’ve also done some work with the Air Force Labs to develop cross- domain solutions that allow users of different security levels share a common network and to do that in a secure fashion.
ExecutiveBiz: What measures is Exelis taking to ensure sustainability in a time of unsure budgets?
Griswold: We’re right in the middle of doing our strategic planning for the next three years which entails taking a hard look at all of these issues right now.
If you look at our particular portfolio, we have several positions which are in what I’ll call enduring infrastructure.
First, NASA’s Space Communications Network Services program is a long term program to help support the communications of the TDRS satellite fleet.
The nation is not going to turn off the TDRS fleet tomorrow. NASA budgets potentially could get constrained a little bit, however programs like that are not likely to get eliminated.
Exelis is currently involved in a handful of large programs like that, and we think the FAA’s NextGen programs are in that category.
In that regard, we think that we’re in a sweet spot in some significant areas of our business.
So, although we recognize a decrease in U.S. government budgets, which we are watching very carefully, we think there are big parts of our business that still have opportunity to excel and to grow.
ExecutiveBiz: How has your technical background helped you transition into executive leadership positions?
Griswold: Like many of the folks in our company and across the aerospace and defense industry, I started with a technical degree, had opportunity to participate in development of different kinds of solutions from spacecraft payloads to ground electronic solutions.
You develop a different perspective of what needs to be done, understanding customer needs, and then applying your skills to that particular problem set to solve it.
But, I think, more importantly, most of us who have been in the business for a while have had expanded areas of responsibility and you begin to see the power of teamwork.
So, as you move along from engineering to engineering management to business development to strategy and corporate development type roles like I have, and work at multiple companies, you begin to appreciate different perspectives and how those perspectives can be brought to help solve whatever the problem of today is.
On a corporate level, to be successful, it’s important to identify the strong players on the team, to enable those people as a team, not just as individuals, to challenge them, and help them knock down the few barriers that they can’t knock down themselves.
That’s ultimately how I think we can be successful as a company.