Position: Managing director, Metal Storm Ltd., an Australian-owned defense technology company that has its U.S. headquarters in Arlington. Smith also has been chief executive of the company since February.
Career highlights: President and chief operating officer, SenSyTech Inc.; senior vice president, technology, Nu-Metrics Inc., a subsidiary of Quixote Corp.; general manager, Nu-Metrics; executive director, operations, Amphenol Corp.; and, senior program manager, General Electric Co.
Education: BS, mechanical engineering, U.S. Naval Academy; MBA, finance, Syracuse University.
Personal: Lives in Lorton.
How did you get to where you are?
My decision to actually go into business was based back when I was a Naval officer. I had been assigned to the position of program manager, and I was tasked with procuring a new training aircraft for the Naval training command. With that position, I had the opportunity to work with Beechcraft Aero Systems, which happens to be the contractor making the airplane (T-44) I was purchasing for the Navy. And when I had visibility into how business worked, especially corporations that were dealing with the U.S. government, I became somewhat infatuated with the business and business management. As a result of that, I made a decision to leave the military.
I searched for an opportunity to utilize my government contracting and procurement experience that I gained as program manager and was able to find a job at General Electric. One of the first things I did there was to become a contractor manager for a very large radar system. I began to work with the U.S. government and Department of Defense agencies, but now I was doing it from the perspective of a large defense contractor. . . . After being with GE for about three years, I was offered the opportunity to become the general manager of a very small start-up called Sensis Corp. This was my first real opportunity to be at the corporate business management level. But that was still a very small company. I began to realize that I needed to continue to push my own career toward opportunities where I could assume higher levels of responsibilities. I decided to leave Sensis and go back to GE.
I was offered a program management position, which allowed me to have responsibility over much higher dollar values and more direct reports. I worked my way up to a $1.6 billion program, which was in a combat system for the Seawolf submarine. This was a tremendous period of growth for me because being at a very large company like GE you become a more experienced manager. . . . At the end of a large program that I was managing, I sort of stopped and assessed my career and decided to do something outside of the DOD and outside of a defense contractor. I needed to extend my breadth as a manager so I accepted a job as a senior operations manager for a large manufacturing company.
At this point, I wanted to manage my career with the goal of eventually becoming the CEO of a company. I needed to work my way up from being an experienced vice president at Amphenol to being a senior vice president and manage multiple companies, and then moving from that to president and chief operations officer put me in the proper position with ample background and experience to become CEO. So becoming the CEO of Metal Storm after 25 years of managing my career was an achievement of a major goal that I had set for myself quite some time ago.
-- Judith Mbuya