Full steam ahead
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Feb 03, 2002
At a time when many people in his position might have one eye on retirement — and driving golf balls — Herbert Anderson is just plain driven.
Anderson, president of Northrop Grumman Information Technology, said he's always lived that way. And when you're in charge of leading a company's recently completed reorganization and new branding strategy, there's no time for indecision.
"I believe in being decisive, which means lead, follow or get out of the way, and that's including my bosses — they know that about me," Anderson said.
The company's growth-by-acquisition strategy means that Northrop Grum.man IT has enough weight to take the lead on contracts for which it once would have been a subcontractor, which creates some problems.
For example, as a prime bidder on government contracts, Northrop Grum.man IT is now facing increased competition from not only the usual suspects, such as systems integrators EDS and Computer Sciences Corp., but also the "Big Five" accounting firms, Anderson said. The key is finding a balance because today's competitor is often tomorrow's strategic partner.
"I don't think there's anyone we really don't compete with anymore," he said, adding that the companies vying for a contract often end up partners. "You can't not have strategic partnerships and win."
Anderson said the Herndon, Va.-based firm's ascent to the upper echelon of the government IT marketplace can be attributed to never having an acquisition fail, beginning with Northrop acquiring Grumman in 1994 and continuing with the subsequent acquisitions of Logicon Inc., Comptek Research Inc., Federal Data Corp., Sterling Software Inc.'s federal group and Litton Industries Inc.
Anderson judges the acquisitions a success for several reasons. First, the acquisitions have met or surpassed financial objectives in terms of cost savings and revenue growth. Second, the acquisitions have added important capabilities and/or customers, which have resulted in contract wins. Third, and most important, the employees of the acquired companies have been successfully integrated into a single company.
All of Northrop Grumman IT's companies used to keep their individual names, but Northrop Grumman IT is now the company's brand, and it encompasses all of the IT-specific acquisitions. The firm's offerings include command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance weapon systems; training and simulation; science and technology; and state and local government services, among others.
The greatest obstacles to successful integration are cultural, Anderson said. The company has been successful by swiftly installing new management and efficiently integrating workers with similar skill sets.
"There are always cultural issues, but we move quickly to pull all like things together and realign ourselves toward future business," he said. "We're creating our own culture, a new culture, and this is where we want to go."
Northrop Grumman IT's key contract wins last year include being part of NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement contract and the National Institutes of Health's Chief Information Officers Solutions and Partners contract, as well as the Army's Communications-Electronics Command's task orders for Systems and Software Engineering Support Services, worth up to $1.4 billion during 10 years.
And Anderson's leadership is not going unnoticed by his bosses, said Kent Kresa, Nor.throp Grumman's chairman and chief executive officer.
"Herb has done an excellent job of managing and growing the business in our information technology sector, which is clearly one of Northrop Grumman's engines of growth," Kresa said. "Herb has successfully integrated several new companies into his sector during the past few years, and these new businesses, along with his internal growth, should provide excellent returns for our company going forward."
Now, Anderson said his mission is to "take advantage of all the synergies and new capabilities," while pursuing larger government contracts and potentially serving as the prime contractor on many of them.
"We went from a $2 billion company to a $4 billion company and believe we have the critical mass to pursue just about any program out there," Anderson said.
Despite the company's extensive portfolio, Anderson said there's still room for growth in some areas and potential for future acquisitions. He would not detail any acquisition plans, but did say telecommunications and additional consulting capabilities are the "two major things we will continue to look at."
Anderson is about three years away from mandatory retirement at age 65 and plans to spend more time with his family, including his five grandchildren, when his working days are over.
Anderson and his wife, Marsha, also enjoy traveling and hitting the links, which means that driving golf balls is in his future. But there's plenty of work to do first.
"I want to continue with our vision and strategic direction and reinforce it as we go along and be flexible enough to change as we go along," Anderson said. "I want people to think outside the box and continue to talk about the team approach. Individuals don't win, teams do."
The Herbert Anderson file
Born: Oct. 1, 1939, in Indianapolis, Ind.
Education: Bachelor's degree in business management from University of Wisconsin.
Military: Served in the U.S. Army from 1958-1961. He once served as a key punch operator.
Experience: Before assuming his new role last October, Anderson was president and chief executive officer of Logicon Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp. Before that, he was corporate vice president and general manager of Northrop's Data Systems and Services Division. Family: He and his wife, Marsha, have two children and five grandchildren.
Quote: "Always look to the future and continue to move forward...always."