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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Tony Moraco's advice to CEOs and today's top market challenges

As Tony Moraco will put it, he’s had a good run at Science Applications International Corp.

He was all at once the founding CEO of a $4 billion startup and steward of a company with a 50-year legacy.

Over six years, he built a new culture for "New SAIC" while preserving the entrepreneurial spirit of the original SAIC. Along the way he negotiated two major acquisitions -- Scitor in 2015 and Engility this year – that took the company’s intelligence business from near-zero to $1 billion.

As previously reported, Moraco is retiring. Current Chief Operating Officer Nazzic Keene will become the next CEO, effective July 31

When I talked with Moraco about his retirement earlier this week, I also asked two sets of questions about advice he'd offer new CEOs and the biggest challenges leaders face in today's market.

We’ll start with his advice to new CEOs:

  • Clearly articulate your strategy
  • Be accessible, transparent and approachable with your employees. “They have to buy into your strategy,” Moraco told me.
  • Remember that as CEO, you are the face of the company.

Another critical piece of advice to new CEOs: learn how to work with your board.

“Learning and navigating the interaction with a board of directors is an interesting and both challenging and rewarding dynamic,” Moraco said. “Most of us are used to one boss, but now you have many.”

And each one has an opinion that is usually smart and valid.

“Assimilating those different ideas to the benefit of the company is both an art and a science,” he said. “If you can effectively engage and utilize the board, it is a great resource for the company.”

Looking ahead at challenges in the market, Moraco said he doesn’t worry about the divisiveness that is rampant on Capitol Hill.

“I worry about it as a citizen but from a business perspective, not so much,” he said.

Instead, companies in the GovCon space need to focus on staying relevant and connected to the rapid changes in technology.

“Things are moving so fast and you have to have a board supplier base and an understanding of the market dynamics,” Moraco said. “No one can do it by themselves so you need partners.”

A second challenge is around the workforce.

“You need the talent and it is very competitive. Managing, retaining and attracting talent is fundamental,” he said. “You need to have a value proposition and a be a career destination for your employees.”

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 14, 2019 at 1:19 PM


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