Chief Officer Awards Finalist John Ustica: ‘Be Open to Trying Something New’

Editor’s note: The winner of the Chief Officer Awards Public Company CFO Award announced June 17 is Alison Harbrecht of GDIT.

On June 17, WashingtonExec will be virtually celebrating the most impactful and innovative C-suite executives in government and industry. These chief officers work in technology, security, data, operations, finance, business and more, excelling on both sides of the government contracting sector. Our team of judges have chosen the finalists for the inaugural Chief Officer Awards, so before we announce the winners during the event, we wanted to get to know the finalists a bit better. This Q&A series highlights their careers, successes, proud professional moments and notable risks.

John Ustica, Siemens Government Technologies

John Ustica is chief financial officer at Siemens Government Technologies and a finalist in the Public Company CFO Award category

What key achievements did you have in 2019? 

We booked the largest-ever energy savings performance contract for Siemens valued at over $800 million for Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. Our finance team played a heavy role in securing the order, and I was proud to be part of the final negotiation with the customer.

What has made you successful in your current role? 

The great team around me. We have an incredible team and the business is rapidly changing as our customers’ needs evolve in the areas of energy generation and resiliency, smart infrastructure modernization and software-driven optimization of maintenance, sustainment and production activities. All of us together contribute to making SGT a better place to work and better for our customers!

What was a turning point or inflection point in your career? 

In 2006, I decided to leave Florida and move to our Siemens Controls Business in Atlanta. It was the first time I left my friends and family and started in a new location. It was also my first role as the lead of a team, and to this day I can’t believe I did it.

How do you help shape the next generation of government/ industry leaders? 

I make myself available to help others and to share my thoughts. I love spending time with people looking to better themselves even if it’s just to ask a question or just listen. Seeing someone I coached succeed is one of the most gratifying things in life for me.

What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken? 

In 2010, I moved to Germany as the CFO of factory business near Dusseldorf. I had to learn a new language, culture and product all at the same time. Many delegates at my level had short stints and then had to come home. It was the most rewarding two years of my life and created the opportunity for me to become a general manager upon my return to the U.S.

What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps? 

Be open to trying something new. I came into the government contracting world with a commercial background and I have learned a tremendous amount in the last two years. As with any position, you have to be ready to continuously learn if you want to grow, never being afraid to go outside of your comfort zone and truly learn from mistakes.

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