Bill Weber, the president and chief executive officer of KeyW, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the strategies that have led to the company’s success, the changes the U.S. should be making to stay ahead of our adversaries in emerging technology and the challenges facing the intelligence community in plain sight.
“There’s only one KeyW out there. There needs to be ten like it in the next generation.”
ExecutiveBiz: What were the key decisions that enabled the company to grow as an attractive acquisition target?
“My first 90 days at KeyW, I wanted to meet with every customer and every employee or partner to formulate a strategy. I became emboldened that there were four ways to drastically improve the company. Those four things were to add leadership that could grow the company, invest in business development so that we could organically expand to new customers, look for the right acquisitions to increase our reach and capabilities and use those acquisitions to mature KeyW’s processes and cost structure for future growth.”
ExecutiveBiz: Aside from hiring a talented team of executives, what are the specific contributions that you’ve made leading to the success of KeyW?
“KeyW performed extremely well amidst a lot of change over the last four years. I’m proud of what our people accomplished. I think knowing how much change KeyW could withstand – and at what pace – is something I kept a constant eye on.
The company grew, matured and beat expectations along the way, and it is still a fantastic culture where people think outside the box and push technology boundaries. I don’t expect that to change going forward.
KeyW plugging into the Jacobs family is incredibly exciting on its own. I believe KeyW will grow and flourish as a result – in a way we could not have done as a standalone publicly traded company.
At a capabilities level – the investments we made a few years ago to build sensor and technology that would be effective in new domains, such as space and the cyber realm, have created great optimism for the men and women of KeyW and now Jacobs. They will continue to pay dividends for years to come.”
ExecutiveBiz: What does our nation need to do to remain the world leader in emerging technologies such as cloud, AI and others?
“Invest and innovate – in a partnership between the public and private sector – and do so relentlessly and with as much purpose and intent as we do to develop kinetic capabilities that defend our nation. It’s that simple. Our adversaries are doing so, and we must as well.
We have to acknowledge and recognize that we need to build partnerships that work. The private sector can innovate much faster than the U.S. government. As a result, there needs to be companies that can innovate alongside our government at a very fast pace and willingly share information and capabilities to allow the government to successfully do its job more effectively.”
ExecutiveBiz: As you look forward, what are the most difficult challenges facing the intelligence community?
“As we’ve come to know and understand – “data” is no longer a proprietary term that implies ownership or access by any specific individual, nation state, or entity. Many of the platforms our adversaries would use against the US and our allies are the very same platforms we all use day in and day out to live freely as Americans.
When those who would do us harm are consistently hiding in plain sight – that poses a significant challenge. That forces the intelligence community to innovate and reinvent tactics and practices at a much faster pace, and with more non-traditional methods than in the past.”
Prior to joining KeyW, Weber held a range of senior leadership roles with XLA, Kaseman, the GTSI Corporation, the CNT Corporation, Inrange Technologies, International Network Services and AT&T. Weber is also a former U.S. Army Officer and Airborne Ranger. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Washington University and is a graduate of The Executive Program at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.