The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Awards were announced March 25, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person May 11 at the The Ritz-Carlton in McLean, Virginia.
Next is CEO (Private Company, Annual Revenue >$1B) finalist William “Bill” Monet, president and CEO at Akima. Here, he talks key recent achievements, career advice, primary focus areas going forward and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2021/2022?
By increasing our focus and investment on human capital, we have achieved a number of key wins at Akima over the past year, but I would say the biggest achievement is our overall growth in FY21. This was a major contributor to our best year in the history of the company and increased revenue to over $1.6 billion.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I surround myself with an ethical, smart and fun team that is driven to succeed collectively as much as they are to succeed individually. I trust and empower each of them to deliver, and I ensure I am accountable to them as well. This straightforward but impactful approach has helped us quadruple our annual return to NANA shareholders since 2014, and it has made us an employer of choice — increasing our workforce to over 8,000 talented professionals.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
In late 2020, and amid the COVID pandemic, I was asked to assume the role of acting president and CEO for Akima’s parent company, NANA. This meant that I was responsible not just for our federal business, but also for NANA’s commercial businesses, land management/protection efforts and shareholder support.
It took a lot of effort and focus to manage both roles, but I am very proud that during my year leading both NANA and Akima, we realized a record in revenue and delivered the most profits in history to NANA’s shareholders.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
We have been working for the past few years with our military and civilian government customers to apply critical thinking and process improvements to their hardest problems. Like many other companies, we have looked at ways to leverage technologies like AI/ML in meaningful ways. But we are also focused on rethinking how we can deliver customer missions from a process perspective, regardless of the role of technology. I think that helps our customers in terms of efficiency and improved business outcomes.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
There is no better way to develop leadership than to provide people with clear objectives along with the tools they need to achieve success. In my experience, talented individuals gain benefit most — and develop as leaders more rapidly — when they are working hands-on, tackling problems and working towards achieving their assigned goals. Offering support while expecting high quality is what will create the next generation of leaders.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Do everything you can to understand how your customer sees the world and the challenges they face. The best teams, solutions and technologies won’t hit the mark if they don’t help the customer solve their problems. Everything else follows from understanding your customer.