The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 8, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Nov. 12.
First up is Jim Scanlon, who’s a DOD Industry Executive of the Year finalist. He serves as executive vice president and general manager of the Defense Systems Group at Science Applications International Corp. Here, Scanlon talks key achievements, rule breaking and other insights into his career success.
What key achievements did you have in 2019/2020?
One of the key achievements our organization achieved during this timeframe is related to our business development and capture performance. Through roughly three-fourths of the year, our Defense Group has won over $6.2 billion or total awards, with $2 billion of those being for new efforts.
What I am most proud and a true testament to the exceptional members of our team is that our yearly overall win rate for all submitted efforts is 82%, with the new award win rate at 64%. These are both best-in-class performance values. These awards are across our U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency customer base.
Given the challenges of operating in a virtual environment due to COVID-19, these teams did a fantastic job or collaborating and coordinating under less than optimal conditions.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Looking over my 32 years at SAIC, I think the primary factor for my success has been my working relationships across the entire organization, both up, down and across. Given how many hours we spend at work and the challenges of competition, I think it is absolutely critical that you value everyone on the team and how they contribute to success.
For me, personal integrity and being consistent as a leader makes it easier for your peers to engage and understand what motivates you as well as appreciate your decision-making process. I have also stressed to my team to approach every situation assuming individuals start with good intentions for their actions. This builds trust across the team and allows you to appreciate opportunities where individual learning and career growth may benefit others.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
A turning point in my career was associated with the split of SAIC and Leidos. I was selected as one of two general managers from across the enterprise for leading the design and implementation of a new business model organization structure for the new SAIC following the separation of the prior $11 billion company into two separate companies.
Over a 9-month interval, I was part of the team that successfully led the transformation of a $4 billion/12,000-member enterprise from a hierarchical organization structure to a matrix business model including selecting members of the matrix leadership team; developing roles, responsibilities and authorities; partnering to build a product portfolio framework; implemented resource management system; generated a detailed transition management plan including an incremental launch sequence of pilots; and successfully achieved transformation on schedule and $3 million under budget.
Which rules do you think you should break more as a government/industry leader?
In terms of “breaking rules,” I think the one area we are all challenged with is the level of risk exposure we are willing to accept in capture and execution. Although the company generally defines guidelines to assist leadership in decision-making and prioritization, I think in the pace of technology maturation and increased competition, one needs to trust your business instincts and leverage the strength and talents of your team to strategically position yourself for things 3-5 years down the road, even if it may push against risk guidelines.
It is not about taking risks, we all need to do that as part of our daily interactions; it is more important how we plan to manage and mitigate those risks once they occur that really determines the difference between success or failure.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
What I am most proud of is the feedback I have received from folks I engaged with throughout my career at all levels of the organization. To me, it is not so much have I view my success or failure, but rather those individuals I have had the honor and privilege to work with and what their experience was in terms of my leadership ability, my mentoring skills, my personal integrity.
Knowing that I added value to an individual career, the success of the organization or the direction of the enterprise is important to me. As Albert Einstein stated, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather become a man of value.” I believe I have achieved that during my time with SAIC.