After nine years at CACI, Gil Guarino retired from his position as the company’s Executive Vice President last month.
Guarino spoke with WashingtonExec about what he wished he knew when he first entered the government contracting business, succession planning, leadership development, and Dr. Jack London’s mentorship.
Guarino will continue to serve on The TechAmerica Foundation Public Sector Board’s Government Advisory Board.
WashingtonExec: What is something you wish you knew when you first got into the business, which you know now?
Gil Guarino: Almost 30 years ago, I began consciously focusing on personal development, become a better “me” within the context of being a more effective contributor and leader within the industry roles that I had. And as I progressed, read, listened and modeled behaviors it became clear to me that personal development is an accelerant to professional development and self-awareness is THE critical success factor to effective leaders and leadership. Without self-awareness a person has virtually no chance of demonstrating self-management and only a slight chance of having social awareness. As I reflect on this concept and look back at my own behaviors and those of others around me, I can see that effective and inspiring leaders were self-aware which enabled them to manage themselves more effectively and relate well to others in any setting because they also had social awareness. Let me stop here because this is a topic that I could “wax on” for hours.
WashingtonExec: What would you say is your proudest moment?
Gil Guarino: I’ve been blessed throughout my life and career with many moments of great pride, personally and professionally. Seeing our sons marry great women, having a son make partner in his law firm, pinning on my other son’s CDR’s rank on the deck of the USS Midway, and all the moments we’ve had with our grandchildren have provided me more than my fair share of proud moments.
I would have to say that one of my proudest moments was my recent retirement ceremony; having my wife and my oldest son, his wife and grandchildren there to hear the fact that I many have touched people’s lives and made a contribution both professionally and personally. It is just very gratifying and humbling experience to go ahead and come to the end of your career and have people expressing how you may have enhanced their lives and their career.
WashingtonExec: Succession planning. How do you not only hire, but maintain critical-talent? In your opinion, what makes a good leader?
Gil Guarino: When internal succession candidates see a transparent program tied to corporate strategies and that they are part of a process to develop their leadership competencies, critical talent will stay with the company. The challenge is finding a practical and effective approach that works in the highly complex and uncertain world of government contracting. Individuals and groups must contribute to company success and develop to their full potential, as well as embracing change and moving forward through periods of change/adversity. A collaborative mindset is also important because more and more, goals are shared and teams can bring more value to customers if leaders have a 1+1>2 mentality. Lastly, and this goes back to character, a good leader builds credibility – modeling a strong commitment to openness, integrity and honesty.
WashingtonExec: Throughout your career—who has served as a key role model for you?
Gil Guarino: Throughout my career I’ve tried to take the best from whoever I have worked for and with, I would probably highlight two role models, although I’ve been privileged to work for some pretty outstanding people throughout my career. The first person that I worked for was Lieutenant General John W. O’Neill. When I met him initially he just demonstrated a professionalism as it relates to business excellence, compassion for people, high expectations, just generally a solid person professionally and personally. He was probably the beginning of emulating and looking at executives as role models. In fact, working for LT GEN O’Neill gave me many opportunities to interact with very senior executives in industry and government as a 2nd Lieutenant which is when I began to focus on having “executive posture”.
As I finish up my career at CACI, I would have to say that seeing Dr. Jack London build a company, afford those of us who came from the AMS acquisition and other acquisitions an opportunity to progress in our careers has added to my thoughts about leadership. His efforts to build a company culture that instills the values of quality service and best value for CACI’s customers, integrity and excellence above all, passion and a never ending commitment in general to the defense of our nation and to our government is noteworthy. I, like many others, look to Dr. London and say that there is a great man, business executive and patriot. We’ve all been privileged in the industry to benefit from his passion.
I, like many others, look to Dr. London and say that there is a great man, business executive and patriot. We’ve all been privileged in the industry to benefit from his passion.”
WashingtonExec: What’s your favorite place in the DC area?
Gil Guarino: Given my passion for food and wine, I’d have to say Bonaroti’s in Vienna, VA. It’s the place where you can come together for business and fun with great hospitality, outstanding food and the most flexible kitchen I know. It is a place that I enjoy very much. 🙂