Bill Hoover is the President and CEO of AMERICAN SYSTEMS, a leading provider of federal IT and engineering solutions to government. Headquartered in Chantilly, Va., AMERICAN SYSTEMS has expertise within C4ISR; Acquisition and Logistics; Readiness; National Security; Citizen Safety; Healthcare; and Energy.
Hoover was recently interviewed by Larry Rosenfeld, CEO of Sage Communications, the D.C. area’s fastest growing marketing communications and public relations firms.
Rosenfeld spoke with Hoover on topics ranging from the current climate of government contracting to the secrets of effective leadership.
Larry Rosenfeld: How is the current climate of government contracting and what are some of the biggest issues affecting the industry today?
Bill Hoover: Right now, as Yogi Berra famously said, “it feels like déjà vu all over again.” It reminds me of the early 1990s. The Cold War was over; we won without firing a shot; and everyone was euphoric! The “peace dividend” was at hand and the military forces were downsized. Now that the majority of our forces will soon be out of Iraq and next year Afghanistan, we’re seeing a similar pattern. Learning from the past and seeing how the world is changing, I’m not sure if our country can afford to “euphorically” downsize our forces again. We cannot forget that the number one priority of the federal government is, and always will be, to protect our nation and its citizens from all threats, both foreign and domestic.
Without question, the big issue facing the U.S. today is dealing with the national debt crisis. However, we must do so, while maintaining a strong national defense posture. Federal spending needs to be reduced, but it needs to be reduced appropriately. Arbitrary across the board cuts would be highly disruptive and affect our ability to defend this nation from both traditional and cyber threats. I believe the feds can cut budgets, but vertical cuts based on identified national priorities would be more appropriate and beneficial.
Larry Rosenfeld: In such an unpredictable and rapidly changing government contracting environment, to what do you attribute AMERICAN SYSTEMS’ success?
Bill Hoover: AMERICAN SYSTEMS, as a corporation, is committed to ensuring that our customers have the support they require to meet their mission goals, because we know what’s at stake. I believe this commitment has been fundamental to our success. Our employees are highly skilled and experienced professionals who directly support our government customers. Organizationally and individually, we share our customers’ understanding of the criticality of their mission.
I wholeheartedly support my team and their customer-focused mindset. As a routine, I visit all of our office locations and “population centers” across the nation at least twice a year. For example, two of my recent visits included training sites in the California desert and snow covered mountains of Maine. My site visits have expanded each year, and I believe that they are very important to demonstrating AMERICAN SYSTEMS’ commitment to both customers and employees.
Larry Rosenfeld: It sounds like leading through example has played a role in your personal success, as well the success of AMERICAN SYSTEMS. Based on all your experience, what makes a truly effective leader?
Bill Hoover: Part of being a leader in a company like AMERICAN SYSTEMS is realizing that your people are your most valuable assets. Good leaders must be effective team builders with a vision of the future. They need to be self confident, prudent risk takers, and willing to let their employees do their jobs. In my experience, when a leader lacks self-confidence, they do not have confidence in their teammates and tend to micromanage as a result.
Effective leaders thrive in a dynamic environment and are continuous learners. Good leaders are decisive; when they make a “bad” decision they will make another decision to correct the course of action. An indecisive person who makes a bad decision may never make another decision to remedy the situation.
One last thing that is essential to effective leadership is balance between your work life and your personal life. An imbalanced leader will create an organization of people who are also imbalanced. I have always said my Mondays through Fridays are for the company; Saturdays and Sundays are for my family. A leader must set an appropriate balance for the organization.
Larry Rosenfeld: One last question – all the years I have known you, no matter what company you’re with, you have been actively involved in a variety of charitable organizations. What groups are you involved with both from a corporate standpoint and personally? Any upcoming projects we should be aware of?
Bill Hoover: As a company, AMERICAN SYSTEMS has a number of important organizations we support, such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Wounded Warrior Project, the Folds of Honor Foundation, as well as a number of similar groups.
On a personal note, I have been working with my U.S. Naval Academy classmates/company-mates on a fundraiser that will benefit the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (IMSFF). It will be held at The Tavern at Great Falls on Thursday, September 8, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The Tavern will donate 10 percent of all drink ticket receipts and all “guest” bartender tips will go to IMSFF. Our goal is to raise $71,000 representing our graduating class year of 1971.
For more information on the fundraiser, check out the WashingtonExec story from earlier this month here.