Position: President and chief executive, Exostar, a Herndon-based provider of secure supply-chain and multi-enterprise collaboration solutions for aerospace and defense companies.
Career Highlights: Chief financial officer, Exostar; director, financial services for North America, Rolls-Royce; vice president of finance, corporate and regional airlines, Rolls-Royce; business manager, corporate and regional airlines, Rolls-Royce; business manager, industrial product, Rolls-Royce; senior analyst, budgets and operations, Rolls-Royce (division acquired from General Motors); senior analyst, pricing, GM; manufacturing supervisor, GM, and general accountant, GM.
Education: BA, economics, Western Kentucky University; MBA, business administration, Ball State University.
Personal: Lives in Leesburg with wife Becky and their sons, Tyler, 16; Ryan, 14; Dylan, 11; and Quinn, 9.
How did you get to where you are?I worked summertimes as a welder for a company named Miller Pipeline. It was an inside shop. And I very quickly knew that I absolutely had to buckle down and get the education right for a broader career choice. I was fortunate enough my senior year in college to get an internship with General Motors. They hired me right after college.
In the early days, my career aspiration was to grow across multiple companies. I was with General Motors for five years and the division I was with was acquired by Clayton, Dubillier & Rice. Within a year of that acquisition, they sold the business to Rolls-Royce. So from my perspective, things worked out perfectly because I was able to work for multiple companies without ever having to leave. The companies came to me.
My early background was on the financial side of the house. I asked to get exposure to manufacturing operations, knowing that my aspirations were broader than finance. The thing I learned there probably more than anything is how to talk to different parts of the organization. I was able to talk to actual people about the manufacturing flow on the shop floor, and I could go talk to the CFO about the financial implications of the shop floor activities in languages that both understood. For the next several years at Rolls-Royce I was able to bridge the gap between the finance community and the different business units, bringing financial discipline into those organizations and learning the operational side of running a business as well. In August 2001, our family moved from Indianapolis, where the Rolls-Royce facility was located, to Northern Virginia, which is the Rolls-Royce North America headquarters. And that's where things got a little interesting.
I moved to work on sales financing for aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce engines. Within a month after moving to the area, Sept. 11 occurred and the business was quite different than anticipated. Rather than working on finance activities, I spent most of the next two years working on bankruptcies and creditors' committees. After a couple of years in that area I was able to interview for a position at Exostar, which is a joint venture owned by BA Systems -- Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce. So it was my position at Rolls-Royce that gave me the ability to come in and interview for the CFO position. I held that position for the last three years, until recently being appointed president and chief executive.
My leadership style, I think, is very open. I'm very accessible -- it's how I learn what's going on across the company.
-- Judith Mbuya