GD keeps steady in turbulent seas

With a new slate of leaders running the company General Dynamics puts its focus on meeting its customers' missions with offerings built around mobile, IT, mission support and ISR.

With new leadership at the helm and facing the turbulent seas of the government market, General Dynamics Corp. plans to do the judicious thing: Stay the course.

“We are going to continue to focus on our core offerings to ensure we help our customers meet their growing mission requirements in a budget-constrained environment,” said David Heebner, executive vice president for the company’s Information Systems and Technology business group.

Heebner, who has served in a myriad of leadership roles since joining the Falls Church, Va.-based company in 2000, became chief of the information systems group in March 2013. He succeeded Gerard DeMuro, who retired in February after a decade as head of information systems. Previously, Heebner was executive vice president of Combat Systems group at General Dynamics for nearly three years.

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Heebner’s move to information systems came on the heels of another top-level management change in January, when Phebe Novakovic became chairman and CEO of the company. Like Heebner, Novakovic has moved through the executive ranks at General Dynamics, serving as president and chief operating officer of the company for eight months last year and, prior to that, as executive vice president of General Dynamics Marine Systems, beginning in 2010. She had begun her career at the company nine years earlier as director of strategic planning and development.

Filling top management positions with General Dynamics veterans like Heebner and Novakovic provides stability and continuity in the company’s leadership structure.

“While there are different people in leadership roles this year, all are General Dynamics executives with years of experience and successful track records, reflecting the strength and breadth of our management team,” he said.

In the information systems and technology group, Heebner cited “continued demand” for General Dynamics’ cornerstone offerings—secure mobile communications systems, information technology solutions and mission-support services, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.

“We see particular strength in IT network and business system consolidation and modernization, the need for improved tactical communications and real-time intelligence, health IT services, cybersecurity and homeland security, including border security and emergency response services,” he said.

General Dynamics strengthened its incident-response capabilities in 2012 with the acquisition of Fidelis Security Systems, a market leader in cybersecurity tools that furnish real-time network visibility, analysis and control, Heebner said.

Heebner also foresees more opportunities for growth in the government health IT market, where new requirements for agencies are surging under healthcare reform.

 In addition to its current portfolio of programs, General Dynamics collected some major IDIQ contract wins in 2012. The information systems group received one of 30 awards from the Homeland Security Department’s Tactical Communications Equipment and Services program to provide a full array of tactical communications products, infrastructure and services to DHS and it partner agencies, departments and components. The contract has a potential value of $3 billion over five years.

Across the company, management will focus on improving operational efficiencies among all lines of business to increase competitiveness, Heebner said. Efficiency and agility are keys to adjusting to an increasingly rough-and-tumble budget environment, he said.