Position: President, Alcatel Government Solutions Inc. in Sterling, which provides telecommunications products and integration for mission solutions. It is a subsidiary of Alcatel USA.

Career highlights: President and chief executive, Insight Inc.; president, systems engineering, Veridian International Corp., which was bought by General Dynamics Corp. in 2004; program director, advanced development for the Systems Development Center, Boeing Co.; director, advanced programs, Rockwell International Inc.; deputy director, advanced programs, Rockwell International; director, operations, TRW; and director, advanced development, for United Technologies Research Center.

Age: 57.

Education: BS, electrical engineering, New Mexico State University; MS, electrical engineering with a minor in physics, New Mexico State University.

Personal: Lives in Fairfax with fiancee, Sabonn. Whitney, 19, his daughter from a previous marriage, is in college.

How did you get to where you are?

I started my tech career in the military. I was interested in electronics. I was assigned to Vietnam for a year, running about a third of the communications system for the Army. That showed me what technology could do to save lives and also further the interests of the United States. It's been a long journey for 36 years. Most of that has been with the prime aerospace integrators. And so I've managed some of the country's most important national programs, and much of it has been in the intelligence and defense arenas. You could say my whole career was an accident. I just happened to be at a certain place at a certain time and I happened to do a broad set of things that I've done because of circumstance.

Technology leveraged towards U.S. worldwide interest has been my passion. A lot of people have asked me why I came to Alcatel. Alcatel has the capability of transforming the federal information technology arena. It is a very innovative company. In 2004 alone, we applied for over 700 patents. Here in the United States, we reinvest over 20 percent of our revenue back in research and development, which is unheard of in the federal community. Innovation is where I've always had the most fun, whether that's business innovation, technical innovation or strategic vision. The reason why I came to Alcatel is because it has the potential of changing the industry. It's not just about business, it's about people too.

Embracing change was probably the biggest lesson I had to learn, and to be able to go with the flow. Having had a career of 36 years, you find that change is a cyclical thing that comes back quite often. Whether it's a downturn in the industry or an acceleration of the industry. I've been through many acquisitions, where we've been bought by other companies. So, embracing change is critical.

I think a major achievement was [that] while at Boeing, I managed the electro-optical portion of the future imagery architecture proposal. It was significant because in 2000 it was the largest intelligence contract ever let. I was told it was impossible for me to win the contract. But we stuck by my vision and pulled it away from a 20-year incumbent.

-- Judith Mbuya