Changing with the times

Unisys' Ira Kirsch contemplates the ups and downs of a 30-year career

Ira Kirsch has ridden the Unisys Corp. roller coaster long enough to appreciate the peaks. Particularly because Kirsch, president of the federal government group, now finds himself — along with the company — soaring high.

His 30-year journey with Unisys began in a school lunchroom when his former football coach handed him the business card of a guy looking to hire a sales employee. Kirsch, a substitute teacher fresh out of college, followed the lead. "I would say the rest is history," he said recently at Unisys offices in McLean, Va. "I've been with the company my entire career."

Before there was Unisys, however, there was Burroughs Corp. And at Burroughs, working in sales and advancing to management thanks to his coach's connection, there was Kirsch. When the company merged with Sperry Corp. in 1986, Unisys was born and he stayed on board.

During the next 15 years, Kirsch moved around the country with stints in the company's financial, commercial, public and federal government sectors. To date, he has racked up more than 20 years of management experience. "I had quite an opportunity to have a vast, global view of Unisys," he said. Still, "I would honestly have to say it's really like having worked for many companies."

The biggest transformation took place during the past five years as Unisys retooled its image to focus on solutions rather than technologies, according to 54-year-old Kirsch, who showed that he, too, could change with the times.

"My [evolution] really has been [that I] started out and grew up on the technology side of the business," he said. Then, "I had an opportunity to get into services about five years ago. I was fully willing and prepared to move out and go in the direction I felt our company and industry were going — not only [toward] technology, but consulting and services."

And a year and a half into his current job, he landed the deal to prove it: the $1 billion contract to build the high-profile Transportation Security Administration's information technology infrastructure.

TSA awarded the first two work orders on its IT Managed Services (ITMS) program to Unisys last month. ITMS emphasizes managed services, a relatively new procurement strategy in which an agency pays a company for technology solutions that solve a particular problem.

"For Unisys, the deal is a major win, especially since as recently as December 2001, it actually considered exiting the federal government IT services market," officials at research firm Gartner Inc. wrote in an Aug. 19 report. "This deal, the largest outsourcing agreement Unisys has signed with the U.S. federal government, affirms Unisys' commitment to the U.S. federal market."

Kirsch agrees with the analysis. "It's a great testimonial to what Unisys really is today," he said. "We leveraged every piece of" the company.

Colleagues say it's also a testament to who Kirsch is today. "Unisys would not be in this position without the leadership of Ira Kirsch," said Greg Baroni, president of the company's global public sector.

Kirsch oversees about 3,400 people in the federal government group — "probably the most rewarding position I've ever had," he said, describing his main responsibility as delivering "the highest level of client satisfaction to the government agencies I service." And on a larger scale: "That is what I believe my mission in life is."

Kirsch, like Unisys, seems to have devoted every piece of himself to get to this point. But the ride isn't over yet. "I've really learned how to build, develop and go to market with an organization," he said. "I would like to keep my hands in it for as long as I can."

***

The Ira Kirsch file

Home: Recently built his dream home in New Jersey, his native state. Commutes to and lives part time in McLean, Va., for work.

Family: Married for 30 years and has a 22-year-old son.

Hobbies: Jogging, golfing, boating and kayaking.

Currently contemplating: The merits of being a Redskins fan vs. a Giants fan and a vegetarian vs. an omnivore.

Reads: Biographies, mostly of past presidents.

Primary motivation: "I really have a passion for people, both our clients and our employees."

NEXT STORY: Retiring SSG director hails AFITC

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.