TOP 100: No. 1

Lockheed captures top spot for 20th year

But no resting on its laurels as it pursues new opportunities

For 20 years, Lockheed Martin has stood as the No. 1 ranked company on the Washington Technology Top 100.

For 2014, the company came in at $14.2 billion in prime contracts, more than double the No. 2 company. So, it’s probably a good bet the company will be ranked No. 1 for a few years yet.

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But that hold on the No. 1 spot doesn’t mean the company isn’t changing or trying to stay ahead of the shifts in the market.

Like other Top 100 companies, Lockheed Martin is focused on keeping its current base of customers while also exploring new growth opportunities.

Some of those opportunities mean taking market share from competitors, but it also means moving into new areas such as energy and international markets.

“One thing I felt we did well was form a strategy that focuses on areas most advantageous to growing our business and supporting our customers and returning to our shareholders,” said Sondra Barbour, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions. “You need to look at your business from the perspective of all the different constituencies.”

Barbour took the reins at IS&GS in April 2013 and plunged headlong into a year of contract delays, budget cuts, sequestration and finally a government shutdown.

It was a management and leadership challenge that Barbour didn’t shirk and didn’t face alone. “I have a phenomenal team and employees,” she said.

Communication was central to how Barbour and Lockheed navigated the uncertainty of the past year.

“We had to make sure we were being very transparent with employees. We needed to let them know what we knew when we knew it,” she said. “If they had uncertainty, they would be focused on that and not the customer and the job at hand.”

The customers were the second but equal part of the strategy. “Our customers were facing budget constraints, so we went in and asked, where are you? What do you need?” she said.

They discussed scenarios. “If this is your budget, let’s draw a line in the sand for the priorities and make sure the most critical items are getting done,” Barbour said.

The thinking was that once the budgets came back, the agency could continue to move forward without missing a beat, she said.

A third focus was Lockheed’s strategy to move into commercial and international markets, which helped make up for some of the shortfall in the federal market.

International wins include new work in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the Middle East.

The federal market also wasn’t devoid of wins. The company captured the recompete of the Air Force National Capital Region contract, a $320 million contract to support the Air Force’s Network Command Center that supports Air Force personnel at the Pentagon, Joint Base Andrews and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.

Lockheed and its teammates also won a $446 million contract with the National Nuclear Security Administration to manage several nuclear sites including the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, as well as projects at other sites.

“We also had a lot of program extensions, which to me speaks to the customer’s confidence in us that they are willing to turn on the options,” Barbour said.

Moving forward, Barbour indicated that the worst for the market might be over, but there are still lingering uncertainties.

“Right now, we know the budgets at the highest level, but we don’t know which programs may be funded, so we are working through that,” she said. “We don’t see the flood gates opening and everything getting funded, but things are being cautiously funded, which is the right thing to do.”

The market will continue to be very competitive, which translates into keeping a strong customer focus, Barbour said.

“You can’t lose your way with the customer,” she said. “You have to have strong program performance and focus on their mission.”

One internal change she made during her first year as the leader of IS&GS was to combine the defense and intelligence businesses into one unit and create a matrix organization that pulled together capabilities such as cyber and data analytics. This allows better sharing of best practices and lowers costs, Barbour said.

“Now we can see what experts we have in a certain areas and ask, 'Do I have enough? How can I leverage them better?'” she said.

Those changes have now taken root, and it is “time to take them and run with them and show our customers that they are going to get the best of the best,” Barbour said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of this strategy. I’m very optimistic.”

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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