With the awards fast approaching, nominees could not be more excited to learn the winners but they could also not be prouder of the their achievements. Key W Corp President and CEO Bill Weber is one of seven nominated for the Executive of the Year in the ($75 million -$300 million category.
WashingtonExec sat with Weber to discuss what qualities make a great leader and the future of the industry.
WashingtonExec: What sparked your interest in technology?
Bill Weber: Early in my career as an Army officer in special operations environments, I could see that technology enabled the finest warfighters in the world to be even more effective — to the point of saving lives — and that resonated with me. Since then, I’ve gravitated to working around technologies — and more importantly, the people connected to those technologies — that solve the some of the toughest challenges that exist.
For me, that has always been in support of this nation and our security. It’s a great mix of what I love to do. From that standpoint, I’m one of the luckiest people I know. At KeyW, I get to work with some of the smartest, most committed people in the world, and together we get to support the noble work of keeping this country, and our friends around the world, as safe as possible.
WashingtonExec: What qualities are essential to be a successful leader?
Bill Weber: I’ll start by saying that I believe successful leaders should be well rounded overall. However, if I had to pick the top essential qualities for successful leaders, the top three that come to mind for me are: accountability, accessibility and communication.
I believe in accountability. The best leaders in my life have consistently demonstrated a pattern of responsibility for what happens in their organizations, good and bad, and they expect that accountability at all levels of leadership entrusted to them. I try to model that same character as a leader. As the CEO of KeyW, I am ultimately responsible for everything this company does — down to the finest detail. “Not my fault” is simply not leadership.
Accessibility is another key quality for me. I believe good leaders surround themselves with great teams — and keeping themselves open to their ideas, perspectives and approaches is important for driving diversity and new solutions in a market that never stops evolving. In my career, I have had great examples of leaders who have made themselves available in order to stay connected to the organizations they lead. I hope those who work for me would say the same.
Last and certainly not least, communication is an essential quality. This entails being able to impart vision and instill a message with clarity so that all stakeholders understand expectations on a given initiative — and also listening to understand what the expectations are from those you serve. The best organizations in any industry are great communicators.
WashingtonExec: What projects are you excited about for KeyW Corp. in the upcoming year?
Bill Weber: As I think about the year ahead, there are many projects that are exciting to me. KeyW has the honor and privilege to partner with the intel, cyber and counterterrorism communities on some of the most challenging (and rewarding) programs in the industry. As you may know, KeyW acquired Sotera in April this year. And I think it will be most exciting to see our legacy companies fully integrated and building on each other’s capabilities to further serve those communities. I’m confident the results of this combination will advance our customers’ missions in ways that simply weren’t possible before we came together.
WashingtonExec: What changes have you seen in the industry since you entered?
Bill Weber: Simply put—a lot! The market has evolved tremendously. Over the past few years, two changes, in particular, stand out for me. The first is the shift from total customer ownership of solutions and hardware to as-a-service models. This transition provides a flexibility — and efficiency — to evolve with the mission that was incomprehensible at a point in time not that long ago.
The other noticeable change is the consolidation that’s taking place in our market. We’re in a cycle where the need to align and focus around specific core customers and complimentary capabilities is driving organizations to consider mergers or acquisitions. The next several years will be interesting for our sector in this regard, for sure.
WashingtonExec: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Bill Weber: This summer, I embarked on a 10-day, 150-mile canoe trip with several guys from my son’s Boy Scout troop. This trip literally took us off the grid to test our high-adventure skills in the wilderness. As you can imagine, it didn’t even come close to a typical week for me, which is generally loaded with back-to-back meetings, phone calls and other opportunities where multitasking is required. Nonetheless, the trip was the perfect time for some open-air thinking — and I would bet that I learned more from these young men than they learned from me.