Recently retired Defense Department executive David Wennergren has quickly made the leap to the private sector, joining CACI International as a vice president for opportunity management and customer delivery. In this exclusive interview, he explains his pick, and his plans going forward.
David Wennergren didn't spend much time enjoying a leisurely retirement. Barely more than a week after retiring from the Defense Department on Aug. 2, Wennergren has become a vice president at CACI International.
He starts his new job Sept. 3 as the vice president of opportunity management and customer delivery practices in the company’s enterprise technologies and services business group.
"This will be the longest break I've had in over 30 years," he said.
Most recently, he served as the assistant deputy chief management officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and was DOD's deputy CIO. He's also been the Navy's CIO. He spent 33 years working in the Navy and Defense Department.
Several factors played into picking CACI for his first job in the public sector, Wennergren told Washington Technology.
“To me there are three things that should drive the decision of where you work,” he said. “Who you get to work with; who you get to work for; and what you get to work on.”
Who he gets to work with is a former colleague and mentor from the Defense Department, Dan Porter, who is an executive vice president of the enterprise technologies and services group where Wennergren is assigned.
“I have the opportunity to work with Dan again, and he is one of the smartest and brightest guys I’ve ever met,” Wennergren said. “To work with him again is a really big plus.”
The two first met as Navy civilians when Porter was running logistics operations, and Wennergren worked under him. When Porter became Navy CIO, he picked Wennergren as his deputy. After Porter retired, Wennergren took over as CIO.
“He has coached and mentored me throughout my career,” Wennergren said.
He also was looking for a company that shared his values about service to the nation, integrity and delivering high-value solutions.
“CACI seemed like a really great match to me,” he said. “I really wanted an opportunity to continue to help government make a difference.”
Wennergren sees the government at a critical crossroads, in that there is rapid technological change taking place that is providing opportunities to do things in new and different ways, and improve how government operates.
“At the same time, the government is going to be dealing with tough financial times for years go to come,” he said. “So, how you prioritize going forward is going to be crucial, and I want to help organizations work through that.”
His new role at CACI will include a healthy dose of learning about the private sector and how business operates. He’ll work on strategy and developing solutions for clients, he said.
“This is an opportunity to learn about the company and its clients, and figure out how to make a difference,” he said.
There will be a focus on maritime and aerospace because that’s an important business area for the group he’s joining. “But I think primarily it’ll be about helping to understand what the opportunities are out there, and working with government organizations about delivery value,” he said.
CACI praised Wennergren’s leadership and “great insight into how we can continue to evolve our capabilities to support the government’s most critical information solutions and services requirements," said CACI CEO Ken Asbury in a statement.
Among his accomplishments is leading the DOD Enterprise Software Initiative, as well as chairing the DOD team overseeing implementation of the Defense Department's Common Access Card. His awards include the DOD Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award.
He's also chaired FCW's Fed100 judges’ panel for several years. FCW is a sister publication to Washington Technology.
Joining CACI is not some sort of swan song for Wennergren, but a new chapter.
“I just turned 55, so I still have miles to go before I sleep,” he said.