Clay Hale has served as senior vice president and CFO at Siemens Government Technologies since March 2012 where as a member of the executive management team, he oversees all of SGT’s financial management and drives business strategy.
The nearly two decade company veteran most recently served as VP of Finance for Siemens Industry’s customer services division and he held the same position for the industry automation division and the dematic material handling products division.
In his conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Hale discusses how the company is poised for growth despite the federal government’s budget constraints, his many experiences and roles at the global firm and some of the latest projects the company is doing within healthcare.
ExecutiveBiz: Can describe your position at Siemens Government Technologies and speak about what your major responsibilities are?
Clay Hale: My position as Chief Financial Officer includes all of the financial and commercial responsibilities normally associated with any sort of government contractor, from financial reporting to accounting to compliance. But on top of that, as a long-term, senior-level Siemens leader, I also have a key role to liaise back into the larger Siemens organization to see where we can help them grow their federal business, and where we can use SGT to help them leverage near-term opportunities and long-term profitability in the federal space.
ExecutiveBiz: You have been with Siemens since 1994. How is working in government contracting now similar or different to the positions you have held in the past?
Hale: It really is different. There are some things that make it easier to do business with the federal government. For example, you have the FAR, which tells you the rules, and the rules are fair to both sides. There’s protection there for the government, but there’s also protection there for the contractor. That’s one thing that’s nice to have.
It’s also unique in that the government customer is different than a commercial customer. Where there are often some common needs, there are also some mission-specific needs. For example, when preparing for those needs and preparing proposals, determining how you’re going to position Siemens to win is very different from the commercial side. There are some limitations or rules that you have to deal with that are different from the commercial side. You have to understand them, but, once you do, it puts everybody on an even playing field, which of course is meant to get the best deal for the U.S. taxpayer.
ExecutiveBiz: Since you began at Siemens, what do you think some of your biggest personal accomplishments have been?
Hale: Growing within a large German company. Siemens has evolved from a German-based conglomerate into much more of a global enterprise organization. Having spent time both in the U.S. and in Germany it’s been a real pleasure to see how Siemens has grown into much more of an international company. I’ve been able to be a part of that.
I’ve seen the Siemens Global Board diversify. It now has multi-national board members. We have a very diverse managing board by any standards. We’re also recognizing the United States as the largest market in the company’s portfolio. I specifically remember when the U.S. overtook Germany as the biggest single country in which Siemens does business and that was a really great thing to know that I’d been part of the team to reach that achievement.
ExecutiveBiz: You have grown up with the company, could you talk about some of the positions you’ve held or some of the work you’ve accomplished?
Hale: I’ve really been fortunate to move into various parts of the company and that’s one of the many advantages that Siemens offers. You can hold different roles in many different types of businesses, but stay within the same company. I’ve been with industry automation field, I’ve been in the warehousing field as well as working in service business and project businesses.
Having such exposure working in varied businesses has afforded me the opportunity to fully understand the breadth and depth of the Siemens portfolio; from projects to manufacturing, to service to solutions business. With each position, I’ve been able to take on more and more responsibility. Few companies offer such a rich professional experience.
ExecutiveBiz: With budget constraints a reality in 2013, how are you positioning Siemens government business to grow?
Hale: While budget austerity is on top of many minds, the portfolio of Siemens products and services perfectly align with the national imperatives of the federal government right now. We don’t do a lot of what one would call military defense contracting. We’re focused on improving healthcare, smart buildings and installations, energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades, energy security and resiliency and improving automation through our innovative engineering. These are all areas that can help our government customers meet their missions.
If we can help federal managers meet their energy efficiency mandates such as improving the efficiency of a building, for example, the savings that are realized from lower power costs are used to pay off the cost of the building upgrades and improvements.
Siemens recently completed the installation of the US Army’s largest solar field to date at White Sands Missile Range. It’s projected to generate annual savings of almost $1 million and meet an average of 10% of the electricity requirements at the installation. The White Sands Missile Range solar project exemplifies federally-mandated energy conservation and renewable energy initiatives. The solar power system will reduce carbon emissions by 7,400 tons annually, equivalent to planting 188,000 trees or removing over 1,500 cars from the roadways. This successful Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources while supporting our national defense. And not only does a project like our work at White Sands Missile Range save money for the American Taxpayer, it’s green, renewable energy. Those are the types of contracts that are continuing to go forward, even in the fiscal reality of 2013.
ExecutiveBiz: As we move forward in 2013, what are you most excited about?
Hale: In the past, Siemens really hasn’t been living up to our full potential as a major player in the federal space. The whole concept of forming Siemens Government Technologies and merging real federal subject matter experts with a thorough knowledge of the Siemens portfolio, and how Siemens works, is a strategic advantage. I’m confident that Siemens will not only be a better – but a bigger – player in the federal market.
ExecutiveBiz: How does Siemens Government Technologies and Siemens work with one another to win federal contracts?
Hale: That’s actually the majority of how Siemens does business in this market – direct from a Siemens entity to the federal customer. Siemens Government Technologies delivers value by collaborating with the Siemens division, implementing our proven processes and strategic account management. Whether it’s FAR clauses or proposal development or proposal strategy or understanding the “Voice of the Customer,” we don’t always see the direct sale or the direct revenue. However, we have a charter to help the rest of Siemens grow federal orders. In that case, we get an assist and that counts as much as a score.
ExecutiveBiz: Could you explain how the parent company in Germany, Siemens USA and Siemens Government Technologies are organized?
Hale: Siemens Government Technologies is a separate legal entity. SGT is formed under a Special Security Agreement between Siemens and the Department of Defense. We have an independent board. The board consists of our CEO, Judy Marks, three outside board members, and two board members from Siemens executive management. We are privileged to have General (USA – ret) Stanley McChrystal serve as SGT’s Chairman of the Board.
We have a firm firewall between SGT and Siemens; however, we do collaborate with Siemens in an appropriate manner, but we still are a federally-compliant U.S. company. As such, our employees are required to be U.S. citizens and hold national security clearances.
ExecutiveBiz: What work is Siemens doing in healthcare?
Hale: We’re one of the largest providers of healthcare equipment, diagnostic solutions, and software in the world. If you want to run a hospital more efficiently, we have software solutions to help.. We have the machines, we have the MRIs, we have the imaging systems and we have the diagnostics solutions to help diagnose disease earlier in the process so that the prevention, which is critical, can be applied in a more effective and efficient way.
ExecutiveBiz: Is there anything that you’d like to highlight that we haven’t talked about?
Hale: What excites us the most is the potential of combining real experts in the government field with Siemens proven commercial offerings. It truly gives us the opportunity to reach the same market share we have in the commercial world with the Federal customer. If we can do that we’ll see some significant growth over the next few years, and we’re well on our way to achieving that.
It requires a lot of education. Sometimes I feel like half my time is spent as a teacher, not only helping to teach the rest of Siemens about federal business but also teaching all our subject matter experts about the broad portfolio of Siemens.