Mark Rayha sees his position as vice president and CFO for General Dynamics Mission Systems as far more than keeping an eye on financial results and forecasting emerging trends, opportunities for growth and financial ‘headwinds.’ Throughout his more than 20-year career with General Dynamics, Rayha has come to see that a financially healthy and growing company requires a diverse team combining technology and engineering innovators, competitive intelligence, human resources and most importantly, feedback from customers.
ExecutiveBiz had a chance to chat with Mark about his focus on seeing, understanding and responding to all of the factors that affect a business’ financial success.
“Seeing and understanding ‘moments of truth’ from many perspectives, competitive, economic, human resources, investment in new technologies and capabilities and the needs of our customers not just tomorrow but three, five, 10 years from now are important factors in delivering on our commitments to the corporation and our customers…All of that rolls up into a financial function where surprises are few and far between.”
EM: How do you approach your position as VP/ CFO?
Mark Rayha: Use a common rigor for the short, medium and long-term financial direction and manage for the long-term. If your horizon is six months and things are looking tough, it is easy to cut investments and deliver the results. Same, in a growth mode, revenue is up you should keep the same disciplined analysis. Up or down. Don’t over-react. If you see some headwinds, you conserve but keep an eye to creating the opportunity when the wind fills your sails.
I report to Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics Mission Systems, who sets the expectation and discipline on both people and operational excellence across the breadth and depth of the company. Mission Systems currently employs more than 12,000 people in locations on every continent except Antarctica. This rich, globally diverse culture encourages long-term growth, a constant inflow of new ideas and innovation balanced by trust, honesty and transparency. I believe that is what differentiates us from our competitors.
What about Challenges?
Rayha: There will always be challenges, the world is changing rapidly, our customers’ needs are fluid and Mission Systems is a very large enterprise. Looking to my team for the big-picture is fundamental to seeing, responding and growing from the challenges we face. I rely on a very powerful flow of business intelligence to see what is happening outside of Mission Systems that could impact one or more parts of the business. Then we look at the technologies that have capabilities beyond a single-use or cul-de-sac technology, creating opportunities for customers to adapt and adopt a proven capability. This we call ‘organic’ growth and it keeps our technology portfolio agile and capable of applications that no one would have imagined.
Final thoughts about working for General Dynamics Mission Systems?
Rayha: This is a fantastic job and I’m having the most fun of my career. The people are talented, dedicated and passionate about what we do to support our customers every day. The work Mission Systems does is vital to the nation’s security and the security of citizens and allies all over the world. I can’t explain the technology, but to be part of it, it is very inspiring and exciting to come to work every day. Seeing and understanding ‘moments of truth’ from many perspectives, competitive, economic, human resources, investment in new technologies and capabilities and the needs of our customers not just tomorrow but three, five, 10 years from now are important factors in delivering on our commitments to the corporation and our customers–all of that rolls up into a financial function where surprises are few and far between.
Rayha joined General Dynamic Mission Systems in 2015 after serving as staff vice president, financial planning and analysis at General Dynamics’ headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. As Mission Systems vice president and CFO, he is responsible for reporting financial results to company and corporate leadership.
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