Bill Hoover focuses career on making a difference

Everyone has a story about how they picked their career. For Bill Hoover, it was a tragedy that launched 30 years of government contracting. Hoover was working as a product engineer for the Ford Motor Co. when he received the news that no parent wants to hear. His oldest daughter was diagnosed with a fatal solid mass tumor. She died nine months later.

Hoover and his wife decided that their daughter would be buried in Annapolis close to the U.S. Naval Academy, where Hoover got his early training for a seven-year Navy career. Knowing that he wanted to be close to his daughter’s burial spot, Hoover started talking to friends in the government contracting business about what kind of job he could get in the Washington region. He eventually landed at Advanced Technology as a program engineer in 1980.

Since then, Hoover, who was named executive of the year for companies with revenue between $75 million and $300 million, has found himself in various management and executive positions for private and public companies. His current venture is leading American Systems, a government contractor in Chantilly, Va., that provides systems engineering, technical and managed services to federal agencies.

Brought in to lead the 1,300-employee company in June 2005, Hoover said he was first tasked with making sure the business stayed an employee-owned company rather than getting bought out by a bigger player like so many other midsize government contractors.

He also has spent the past four years investing the company’s profits toward its infrastructure, including implementing an enterprisewide information technology system that included not only finance and accounting but also business development and human resources. Funds were also invested in marketing and communications.

“I remember somebody telling me it’s not bragging if you can do it,” Hoover said. “We needed to make sure people knew who we were.”

Much of his management style is focused on building strong teams in the company. Being a twin, Hoover always felt a connection to another person and even jokes that he never knew a first-person singular pronoun ever existed growing up. He puts a lot of value on teams, adding that the best ones are those where there’s not only a lot of brains but also a lot of trust.

“What makes for an effective team is when each member knows or has confidence in the other team members,” he said.

It’s no surprise that Hoover has spent most of his career working to support national interests. As a kid, he pored over books on military history. And he also remembers his father regretting never being able to serve in the military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. So at 17, Hoover joined the Navy with the intention of becoming an officer. With the exception of his short stint at Ford, Hoover said he’s always worked on national issues.

“I have always been a strong proponent of the nation and what the nation tries to achieve,” he said. “Part of our vision really is we want to be involved in programs that make a difference.”

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About the Author

Tania Anderson is a contributing writer to Washington Technology.

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