Mike Costas, general manager of Defense and Space Business with Bechtel, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the company’s rich history of more than 125 years as well as its work to address the most significant challenges as the U.S. works to modernize its current infrastructure and implement the latest technology.
In addition, Costas also discussed how Bechtel’s senior leadership is driving growth opportunities for the company and his goals for Bechtel in the defense and space markets in 2022 during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
“With over a century and a quarter of experience, we have been successful due to the hard work of our people. The bottom line is that our people are our most important resource. We don’t have a lot of brick and mortar at Bechtel. It’s our customers and our workforce that are pulling together our future opportunities. This is an exciting time for us at Bechtel and we continue to make the world a better place. ”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Mike Costas below:
ExecutiveBiz: For a company with a rich history of more than 125 years, what can you tell us about the company’s expansive history and what it’s like to work at Bechtel?
Mike Costas: “Bechtel is a 125-year-old private company that has worked in 77 countries across seven continents. When I talk about the large complex tasks that we do, including nuclear work, I’m always thinking about the sophistication of these tasks and the challenges of mobilizing the people and other resources needed to meet customer objectives.
Bechtel has a very long history of delivering critical capabilities and missions for our customers. We helped build the Hoover Dam. We’ve assisted with putting out oil fires in Kuwait. We’ve built railways, mass transit systems, airports, and an entire city [Jubail, Saudi Arabia]. Our company is truly in a position to change people’s lives and economies across the globe.
On the defense side of the business, what’s significant about our work is that our missions make the world safer. For example, Bechtel is working to eradicate the world of chemical munitions and nerve agents. In addition, we’re in the middle of strengthening our nuclear deterrent by modernizing the Minuteman III system into the ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD). The project benefits from our significant past work in building the U.S. missile defense capability.
On GBSD we will upgrade all the launch facilities and all the launch control centers that support the land-based strategic deterrent. We lead many capital projects, so I would characterize our portfolio as large, complex, and nuclear.
There are a lot of companies out there that do construction projects that help improve our communities. We look for projects that have a lasting effect on world affairs as well as the safety and security of our people within the United States and allied nations.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the most significant challenges that Bechtel is working to address for its clients in order to modernize the current U.S. infrastructure and address the greater technological challenges of the day?
Mike Costas: “We have been through some challenging times in our country and globally. It’s been tough with economic downturns, the pandemic, and global conflicts, so we have deployed a strategy that builds a strong team capable of delivering on our customers’ needs.
As we look at the Bechtel business model, we have to be rock solid at providing our military and allies the capabilities they need to establish the deterrence that is necessary to keep peace in the world. We do not take this responsibility lightly.
We have been very fortunate to have the people as well as great partners who are constantly innovating to help the military with their missions and other priorities.
In parallel, we work to deliver value that is necessary to optimize precious financial resources needed to deliver these capabilities on time. The truth is that the current pressures in our world will change how the government thinks about budgeting and deployment of resources as well as how it balances management of social issues and strengthening defense.
The money is finite. The U.S. government’s limited financial resources will justify the need for private equity to supplement capital deployment needed for defense megaprojects. We will continue to define the most economical solutions with private equity to help the government build critical capabilities.”
ExecutiveBiz: How has senior leadership for Bechtel’s Defense & Space business helped to drive growth opportunities?
Mike Costas: “We’ve talked about some of our national defense missions at Bechtel but also the need to address more thematically significant customer missions to support our foreign affairs and exploration of new frontiers.
Bechtel is working to build sophisticated launch infrastructure for the Space Launch System for NASA. That’s a human spaceflight rated system, an extremely complex launch platform that will place men, women, and people of color on the moon. It continues to be an extraordinary challenge and we appreciate the partnership built with NASA in support of this important mission.
We’ve been at the forefront of working with the Department of State for many years in building relationships with countries across the globe. It would be impossible to build a rail project in a place like Riyadh, Saudi Arabia without mastering government relations and knowing their supply chains and community needs. This foundation has provided the ability to deliver critical diplomatic infrastructure which is a tremendous market opportunity for us.
We want to have a peaceful world, but unfortunately, there are a lot of things happening that we are compelled to engage. For instance, our Naval infrastructure. We’ve been working to deploy great solutions to help the Navy improve the readiness of our fleet.
Our organization, along with other top industry leaders, has been working directly with Navy leadership to help them modernize capabilities to improve fleet readiness. We certainly appreciate everybody’s efforts that are being put forth because it’s all about providing our sailors the best equipment and infrastructure.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are your goals for 2022 in the Defense and Space markets?
Mike Costas: “Our growth stems from entering broad markets that leverage strong past performance, so it’s gone quite well for us so far. Space is obviously really intriguing to our people as well as our customers. In 125 years, Bechtel has helped people expand into many different frontiers, but we’re looking at space as the next frontier.
The work we’re doing with academia and NASA is about the development of capabilities necessary to construct on the moon, Mars, etc. That’s been an area that has really intrigued us for a long time. What we’re seeing today are very realistic studies on what it would take to do these leading-edge practices on other planets.
It’s worth mentioning that companies like SpaceX have significantly lowered the cost of access to space. That’s today, but imagine what space is going to be like in a decade. We want to scale the work we have done on Earth to planetary applications.
We’ve built processing plants for gases, water, etc. Bechtel has built 80 percent of the nuclear plants in this country. We have built power grids. We build mining facilities all over the world. You’ll need all of this experience in our off-world future.
With over a century and a quarter of experience, we have been successful due to the hard work of our people. The bottom line is that our people are our most important resource. We don’t have a lot of brick and mortar at Bechtel. It’s our customers and our workforce that are pulling together our future opportunities. This is an exciting time for us at Bechtel and we continue to make the world a better place.”