Vinny Sica is vice president of Integrated Ground Solutions for Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Solutions-National unit, where the 25-year company veteran leads an organization that works with intelligence agencies worldwide.
In a recent interview with ExecutiveBiz, Sica discussed the organization he leads, how the company has pursued international expansion and potential growth opportunities within the commercial market.
ExecutiveBiz: Describe your position as a vice president with Lockheed Martin IS&GS.
Vinny Sica: There are three products lines in IS& GS: Defense, Civil and National, National being primarily focused on providing capabilities for the intelligence community.
I lead an organization of about 3,500 professionals that provide Integrated Ground Solutions (IGS) for these government customers.
We mostly focus on the Intelligence community agencies but also support various elements of the Defense Department and a few commercial companies as well. Inside IGS, we perform both development and operations activities, mostly focused on large mission-critical systems for our customers.
Our operations and sustainment business focuses on running, operating, and maintaining critical Intel collection systems and the facilities which they support. Our development programs are focused in areas of command and control, mission planning or mission management, high-speed data routing, and also multisource and all-source data sensor processing.
A great deal of our work is classified, so we can’t go into detail. One of the things I do like to say when folks ask me what I do is, I believe I’m in the business of national security and saving lives. The systems we support are critical national systems to all war fighters who work every day to keep our world safe.
ExecutiveBiz: How has your career evolved? How have you seen the industry evolving alongside it as you’ve grown through the ranks both at Lockheed Martin and in GovCon as a whole?
Sica: I’ve seen a tremendous transition over the 25 – actually almost 28 years – of my career now. As I think through this, we have seen everything from the huge aerospace consolidation in the ’90s with many of the aerospace and defense companies merging with a focus on the peace dividend coming out post-Cold War climate, to the 9/11 attacks and the following 10 years of intelligence community build-up and focus on IC integration.
Today, with the global fiscal crisis that is driving significant budget challenges around the world it looks a little bit like back to the future, rewind 20 years then fast-forwarded where the whole globe is having a problem and budget challenges are even greater than they were in the 1990s.
The big difference today is there’s a higher level of demand for intelligence products and data than I’ve seen in my career, while we’re trying to go through this significant budget challenge as a nation.
(In his executive spotlight, Brett Mason, VP and general manager of Mission Eessential Personnel‘s intelligence solutions group, addresses how the company takes its approach to providing intelligence agencies products).
ExecutiveBiz: How are you responding to heightened competition? How would you characterize Lockheed’s approach to that increasing competition with the unsure budget situation?
Sica: Lockheed Martin has done a pretty good job of trying to get out in front of this and we’ve been taking affordability measures for over five years now before it really came in vogue and reactionary.
As a corporation we’ve taken several measures to remain competitive; everything from realignments to divesting businesses to ensure the right portfolio is maintained going forward. Unfortunately it also meant reducing our ranks as well to some degree.
We’ve also taken on a renewed focus on agility in order to be the most competitive we can be for our customers.
The good news about Lockheed Martin starting five-plus years ago is we’ve been focused on costs from the beginning and even on cost-plus contracts we’ve been trying to find ways to be more efficient and cost-effective. This has been preparing us for this market shift with such an acute focus affordable solutions.
(Tim Chase, Deloitte‘s intelligence practice leader, identified ways his company addresses and aligns its plans with the evolving budget environment in his executive spotlight).
ExecutiveBiz: How did in the international sector figure into those plans starting about five years ago?
Sica: About five years ago, and really the last two or three years we’ve been predominantly focused on taking our core capabilities that we’ve gained in our U.S. markets to adjacent markets as well as the international marketplace.
We do have to be concerned about export control and especially security issues but there are many other capabilities that we’re delivering today for our customers that are more commercially-built and more commercially-minded that can be shared with many countries without violating any of the regulations we live under.
The corporation has always competed on a global scale throughout the life of many of our airplane/platform programs. IS&GS is now focused on bringing its systems; cyber skills, ground system software, and the operation of those systems internationally.
ExecutiveBiz: Have you seen a similar sort of expansion into commercial markets?
Sica: Yes, with respect to taking our capabilities to what we refer to as adjacent markets. These are typically commercial but more in the regulated market place, such as Energy, Healthcare IT, and Cyber.
In Cyber Security we’re leveraging what we do both for our internal networks and what we do for our critical Intel customers to help other companies, other government agencies and other industries defend themselves against the growing cyber threats.
ExecutiveBiz: How has your experience at Lockheed Martin over 28 years prepared you for the past few years and everything moving forward?
Sica: It’s kind of funny I’ve actually used a quote quite a bit with my team,” you know, hey we’ve been training our whole life for this”.
Those that have been around a while, the last 20 years, especially 5 – 10 years ago, with fairly robust budgets, have seen an environment that isn’t too hard to manage. I think it’s all a very cyclical business and, we have been training to be ready for the next down cycle, which is where I think we’re in right now.
It’s a challenge for those that have been around awhile, that have lived through a couple of different cycles, you kind of see it but folks that have only been 10 or 15 years, they haven’t really known what the ’90s or the pre-9/11 era was like so they are living it for the first time.
I think the corporation’s done a great job developing our leaders. We use a full-spectrum leadership model focused on five key imperatives that gives them the breadth of everything from how to shape the future to ensure we keep our ethics and integrity above all things. This has helped our leadership team prepare themselves for what we see coming the next three to five years.
I believe the internal training we’ve doing and the leadership examples from our senior executives have put us in a unique position to execute in this environment and be ready for the challenges that we’re facing right now and into the future.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything else that you’d like to address?
Sica: One of the things I love about what we do is the focus on the mission and this is a key differentiator for the type of work we do at Lockheed Martin.
What we do is of national (I would even say global) security importance and we are focused on our customer’s mission. That is what gets me excited to get up every day after doing this for almost 28 years. I am still excited to come to work every day because of the focus on these missions that save lives and knowing that we helping our customers meet all the intelligence needs of this changing world.