How Huntington Ingalls spreads its people & resources across the company

Services segment prepares to close Alion deal

Two overarching goals dominate the current iteration of Huntington Ingalls Industries’ strategy: invest in its core shipbuilding business for the future and position the government services segment's portfolio for growth.

Just after the Fourth of July weekend, HII unveiled its next move regarding the second item that will see the company acquire Alion Science and Technology.

HII will fold the acquired business into its Technical Solutions segment, which the buyer expects will represent roughly one-fourth of overall sales after that deal closes sometime this current quarter. Technical Solutions today makes up for around 13 percent of the total $9.4 billion in forecasted revenue for this year.

But given how different the Technical Solutions portfolio is, how does the shipbuilder pool together the resources of that segment and its vast lineup of programs with what happens in the two shipyards?

Keep in mind that in adding Alion, HII will gain 3,200 new employees to push Technical Solutions workforce past 9,000 people.

During a briefing with reporters on Monday at the Sea Air Space conference, the presidents of HII’s Newport News and Ingalls shipbuilding segments explained when and how they look to bring in some of the practices and people in from Technical Solutions.

Kari Wilkinson, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, cited as one example the TS segment’s acquisition of unmanned sea vehicle maker Hydroid in early 2020 as providing a base of talent from which that shipyard can draw from.

Thread number two as Wilkinson put it: “How they think about new business, how they do business capture: there were some great lessons in there for us as we think about how we shape that for ourselves going forward.

“That was just mind blowing, the first opportunity we had to sit with (their) strategists and hear about how they think about business capture and how they structure around that,” Wilkinson added during the briefing in National Harbor, Maryland.

For Newport News Shipbuilding, segment President Jennifer Boykin highlighted the training line of business inside Technical Solutions that works with the Navy and other defense agencies. Boykin said NNS leans on that base of TS employees to support what the shipyard does in workforce training.

A second area of interest to the NNS business is what TS does in data analytics, a portfolio slated to expand even further once the acquisition of Alion is completed.

But perhaps the most common and direct thread between both businesses is what they do in the nuclear area in particular for the Energy Department.

Boykin said that two years ago, the company figured out the TS business would hire nuclear specialists to compete for DOE contracts and that NNS could also use that same talent for training and development for the latter’s ship construction programs.

Newport News Shipbuilding is the country’s lone designer, builder and refueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. It is also one of only two shipyards that design and build powered submarines.

Within Technical Solutions itself, the current and workforce remains at or near the top of the agenda given both the coronavirus pandemic and highly-competitive race for talent in the government technology and services market.

Andy Green, president of Technical Solutions, acknowledged the pandemic “was disruptive in terms of the way we did things” but “not too disruptive in terms of performance.”

Green said the segment remains in a flexible posture in terms of employees working from home and having a blanket policy for how to do that across the entire segment was hard for it because of the workforce’s spread across 46 U.S. states and 30 countries.

“We pushed that down, giving some guidelines around how you put in place work-from-home arrangements, and give folks at the different locations flexibility to do what they needed to do,” Green said.

“It gives people a lot of flexibility as well” related to handling child care and other matters at home, he added.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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