Present: Chief Financial Officer, SRA International
Career highlights: Spent 25 years with Arthur Andersen LLP, promoted audit partner in 1988 “” first client was SRA. Later tapped as practice director, then moved to KPMG, and ultimately left public accounting; tapped SRA CFO in June 2009.
Personal: Nadeau is a Washington, DC native who grew up in Fairfax, where Route 236, Route 50 and 29 converge. “When I was in high school the location where SRA is located was woods,“ he says.
- Get your house in order. “There are business processes and challenges that you may not have had time to focus on prior to the fourth quarter of 2008. Take time now to get your administrative house in order so that when business opportunities do present themselves, you“™re ready to efficiently execute.“
- Keep it simple. “I believe in keeping it simple. Pick the right metrics that motivate people to do the right things. You don“™t need 100 metrics; it should be a fewer number of metrics that influence behavior that“™s consistent with your overall strategic goals.“
- Invest in your people. “Our voluntary attrition rate at SRA is one of the lowest among our peers. Why is that? We think we do a good job listening to our employees. When we do annual performance reviews we don“™t just talk about the past, we spend a lot of time talking about the future. We also spend time thinking about succession planning in the event a key employee does decide to leave.“
ExecutiveBiz: You“™ve been at SRA a little over seven months now. What“™s the bulk of your focus been so far?
Rick Nadeau: I“™ve been spending a lot of time helping the company get focused on exception reporting. We“™re managing the company more and more by metrics and our ability to achieve certain metrics and focusing on the business decisions that we need to drive the business through exceptions. We set targets and we focus our reporting on the exceptions. Our management attention is focused on overcoming the exceptions that we have. I would share that approach with colleagues: Try to focus on the areas that need attention. Plan where you think you are most likely to be, then, if you fall short, address why you“™re falling short and take aggressive management actions to get yourself back on course.
ExecutiveBiz: You“™ve worked for commercial companies, and now you work for a federal government contractor. What“™s your overall assessment of government contracting“™s direction?
Rick Nadeau: I think the defense industry and government contracting is a very good industry today. There are a lot of priorities for the US government that industry has the abilities to help solve, both on the defense and the civil side of government.
ExecutiveBiz: What are fast growth areas that SRA is seeing?
Rick Nadeau: Fifty percent of our business is in the national security sector. That“™s defense, homeland security, and the intelligence community. The other half is in the civil government and health organizations. This balance should put SRA in a good position for growth. We“™ve had good growth on the civil government side, and healthcare, obviously, is an area of fast growth. We have significant cyber security expertise. We hired Scott Large, who most recently was the Director of NRO and also held senior positions elsewhere in the intelligence community which would indicate we“™re serious about serving the intelligence community.
ExecutiveBiz: What we can expect from SRA in 2010?
Rick Nadeau: You“™ll see solid growth. We told the investment community that we expect to grow 4 to 7 percent organically and our first quarter results exceeded that guidance. We also expect our operating margin to be in the 7 to 7.4 percent range. Right now we have little debt on our balance sheet so we have the ability to do acquisitions we deem appropriate.
ExecutiveBiz: As you plan ahead, what“™s your overall sense of the economy“™s recovery?
Rick Nadeau: The U.S. economy will get better. It“™s going to happen. The speed or how strong it comes back is a matter for economists to debate, but it will get better, and when it does, there will be more opportunities out there. There will be continued improvement in the economy, and acquisition and financing transactions will again be a part of business reality. When the economy does improve the smart companies will have their back office and processes as efficient as possible. We intend to be one of them.