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Dave Wajsgras: Under the radar, reimagining cyber
Raytheon is best known as a defense contractor. In the federal IT space, however, the firm has a low profile that belies its massive role. Dave Wajsgras is working to change that.
“We’re known as the largest missile maker in the world,” he told FCW. “Our strategic focus is to also become known as a world-class fed IT and cybersecurity solutions provider.”
As president of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services, Wajsgras leads a $6 billion business with more than 16,000 employees, most in the Washington, D.C., area. His team delivers the Department of Homeland Security’s Development, Operations and Maintenance program, which protects vast swaths of the .gov domain, and last year upgraded the Joint Polar Satellite System’s Common Ground System, almost doubling the speed at which the National Weather Service can get observation data.
Then there is a broad range of work, much of it classified, for the defense and intelligence agencies that have been Raytheon customers for decades. That classified work is one reason IIS remains somewhat under the radar, Wajsgras said. A larger factor, however, might be the way the company spun IT and cybersecurity services out of its traditional security offerings.
Much like Amazon leveraged the infrastructure it built to power its retail business into a cloud services colossus, Raytheon has taken the software and solutions it developed to harden its weapons, space and command-and-control systems and is using them to position IIS as an industry leader in cybersecurity, analytics and automation.
About a decade ago, “we saw that what we delivered as IT mission solutions…was becoming a much broader area of focus for our customer base,” Wajsgras said. IIS was formed to “begin to offer these solutions to our customers as a separate and distinct service offering.”
The fact that Raytheon’s cybersecurity expertise was born out of its mission systems brings other benefits as well. “CIOs or CISOs are getting much more involved on the mission side,” Wajsgras said, and that integration comes naturally to IIS. “The strategy we embarked on a few years ago is really converging.”
That aptitude for taking the long view also shows in Wajsgras’ focus on workforce development. Although IIS does not have any “noticeable talent shortfalls” today, he said proudly, “this war for talent is only going to get greater.”
So IIS looks nationwide for promising talent, and Wajsgras is a key supporter of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which focuses on identifying young talent and showcasing opportunities in government IT.
Yet the workforce is just one facet of the rapidly shifting cyber landscape that Wajsgras wants to see Raytheon master.
“It’s a very complicated business, with a very broad portfolio of capabilities,” he said, but that complexity is part of the appeal. “We offer, I believe, the broadest solution set of any IT or cyber company.”
Over the years, Wajsgras said, “I’ve had 19 different jobs. This is the most challenging and rewarding role I’ve had in my entire career.”
Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN, as well as General Manager of Public Sector 360.
Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.
Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.
Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.