Before joining CSC in January 2008, the nearly two-decade industry veteran served as executive vice president and general counsel at ACS Inc., a Xerox company, from 2000 to 2003 and held other executive roles there since 1989.
Deckelman recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz about some of the Falls Church, Va.-based firm’s products and services and described how he coordinates legal efforts for a company that does business in more than 90 different countries.
ExecutiveBiz: Give us an overview of what it’s like to be Vice President and General Counsel at CSC.
Bill Deckelman: General Counsel, I’ve got about 120 lawyers in our legal department. The company, of course, is global. Our Legal Department is global. We have about half of our lawyers in the U.S. and about half spread across the rest of the world.
And of course the Legal Department is doing what lawyers do, a lot of contract negotiations, but also just dealing with the legal and regulatory matters that the company faces day in and day out around the world and of course litigation matters and employment and labor matters and that sort of thing.
In addition to the Legal Department, I’ve got the Contracts Organization that reports to me, which is about 400 people spread around the globe, and of course we’re in both the public sector and the commercial IT services market. So, we have contracts people in both of those areas.
Finally, we also have a Compliance Organization, which is about 20 people, which is also a global organization that reports to me. They are involved in all of our ethics and compliance matters around the company.
We have approximately 100,000 employees now around the globe. So it’s a fairly complex regulatory environment for us which means there’s a lot of compliance issues and just a lot of cultural and ethics issues that we deal with as you would with a large employment base like that.
ExecutiveBiz: As you mentioned, CSC has its hands in a wide-variety of areas, which is why we were wanted to ask what types of new products or services is the company is working on that you feel may have a major impact on the market.
Deckelman: Particularly throughout the last year we’ve really been focused heavily in the cyber security area. So, we have both products and services.
We’ve acquired a couple of companies in that market that have products that we use. Of course a lot of our heritage and our expertise in that area of cyber comes from all of our government contracting over the years, but we’re also moving now to take a lot of that expertise to the commercial market as well. So, cyber security is really a huge growth market for us.
Another area is cloud computing, which by now everyone’s heard about, and it’s been the trend for the last couple of years.
We’re very strong in cloud as well and one of the–really recognized by the industry analysts as one of the leaders in cloud computing, and that’s a situation where a lot of our existing client base is moving toward new technologies.
It’s not only selling to new clients, but it’s also a lot of having our existing clients migrate to the newer technology.
I’d say the third big area is healthcare. Everyone knows all the attention that healthcare is getting, not only in the U.S. but around the world, in the last couple of years.
We acquired a fairly significant healthcare software company called iSoft about 18 months ago, and they’re a global company as well. They have a pretty deep product line, and we’re taking a lot of that to the market as well with services that we’re putting around it. So, those are the three areas I’d say that are most exciting for us in terms of potential growth.
ExecutiveBiz: Healthcare and biometrics seem to be industry hotbeds, making leaps and bounds in electronic data transfers and information sharing. In what capacity is CSC working to deploy new solutions geared towards this area?
Deckelman: I’d say in healthcare is probably a good example where we do a lot of work for the National Health Service in the UK.
We’ve had challenges with that contract. It’s a huge contract for their public health in the UK, but a lot of interesting technology is coming out of that, really focused, as you were just saying, on digital.
For example, a product we call Patient in a Pocket where the physicians are able to carry mobile devices with instant access to patient records and x-rays and that sort of thing. And so, that really I think in healthcare is one of the most exciting areas for future product.
We all know inevitably that’s the way it’s going, but our product that we just introduced out of there I’d say in the last six months is really pretty exciting for us.
ExecutiveBiz: What are some of the things that you’ve really focused on or made contributions to since joining the company in 2008?
Deckelman: As far as the legal organization goes, the model that the company had operated under before I got here was really fairly decentralized.
The legal organization, as I said earlier, was spread out across the world and was not–the focus was not on a very cohesive single organization. That’s probably the biggest change that we’ve implemented is to really get a lot more collaboration and communication going across the world.
We’ve had a number of knowledge management initiatives that we’ve instituted. For example, we have a long history in public sector work here in the U.S. with the federal government. That’s about 40 percent of our revenue, but we’ve also got major contracts in a number of countries.
I mentioned the U.K., Australia and some other European countries. Large contracts with governments there in those countries as well.
We have a real focus on developing a global practice group that deals with public sector contracts and a lot more knowledge management and collaboration among those lawyers whether they’re in Sydney or London or Falls Church.
That’s been a real focus I’d say and a real element of change for the organization. Now, the contracts organization until the fall of 2008 it also was not a cohesive organization. In fact, it was spread out among the businesses and the finance organization which marked the first time in the fall of 2008 we brought that altogether into one single organization reporting to the General Counsel.
As you can imagine, just a lot more focus on the professionalism of that group, because in that kind of situation they could recognize themselves as an organization. Finally, I mentioned earlier the compliance when I got here in 2008 was done like a lot of companies tend to do it and that is somewhat ad hoc as opposed to that being a real organizational focus and the right investment behind it. We’ve really focused on that, and we’ve built a compliance organization, which I really view as world class and very strong.
We’ve combined the ethics program and the compliance. We’ve worked very hard on the ethics tone of the company, because we had some challenges, which are public, over the past 18 months with some accounting issues with the SEC. We have sales people all over the world which causes us to focus a lot on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and anti-corruption issues to make sure we’re in compliance with all that.
There are any number of regulatory and complex compliance issues when you’re doing business in so many countries. I think we’re in probably in 80 or 90 countries, so, each one has their own set of regulations, and it’s quite a challenge to stay on top of that.
ExecutiveBiz: How have your previous experiences helped you transition into this current executive role while maybe enabling you to view things in a different light?
Deckelman: I have been in the IT industry a long time, and I think in a couple of different ways.
As I’ve described, the contracts organization and the changes we made there and the legal organization and the changes we made there, having been around the industry and dealt with these kinds of issues that you deal with, with this kind of client base, and then the need for change, I think I was well positioned to appreciate and kind of see the vision of where we wanted to take it.
I think that helped a lot, because if you know where you’re going that certainly helps. In that aspect, I think that my past experience has really helped a lot there.
The other area I would say, which is not always quite as visible, but it’s just as important, that is as the General Counsel you really are spending a lot of time with the CEO and the Board of Directors on fairly strategic issues.
I mentioned that we’ve had an SEC investigation going on. So, typical, we’ve had securitiess class action litigation along with that.
Those are issues that affect the company overall, and the Board certainly pays attention to that sort of thing. And so, with my experience with companies in the past similarly, I think that’s helped a lot as well.
Just the whole Board relationship and pointing out risk and how do you mitigate those risks, which every company faces, but I think that experience has certainly given me a lot of confidence in advising the Board about how we’re going to navigate through some of those risk.