Meet Roger Krone

Roger is both an engineer who will roll up his sleeves and a numbers man who will manage the balance sheet. “My engineering degree fueled my desire to understand how things work from a technical standpoint,” he says. “But if you call around and ask about me, most people would probably say I’m a no-nonsense numbers guy.” He’s been Roger the program manager, Roger the investor relations director, and Roger the chief information officer, and he’s been good at all of it.

Like his predecessor, John Jumper, he is a pilot who grew up in love with aerospace and aviation. “Ever since the Apollo 11 moon landing, I’ve been inspired by space, engineering, and generally all things that fly.” Regarded as the “Man in Motion” at Georgia Tech, his undergraduate alma mater where he studied aerospace engineering, Roger has been gunning the Ramblin’ Wreck up the industry ranks since his first job as a junior designer at General Dynamics with a pencil and 10-foot drawing board.

How would you characterize your leadership style?

I believe in openness and collaboration. This is a team sport. Don’t expect the corner office to make all of the decisions. I see huge depth at Leidos. We have to unlock the creative energy down in the organization. I look forward to spending a lot of time down in the line. That is where you find out what is really going on. We’re going to put in what a Fortune 500® company needs to be successful.

What experiences have prepared you for this opportunity?

I may not have it all, but I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m pretty good at it now. I’ve been in the industry for 37 years. I know the customers. I know the company. I’ve been a CIO, CFO, an ops guy, and a business lead. I’ve done business in over 40 countries and managed a few billion dollars of business that is international. I’ve sold major projects in the Middle East. Going global is a huge opportunity for this company.

 

 

 

 

What is the most appealing thing about working for Leidos?

It works on so many levels. One of the exciting things is that it’s a brand new company, but it’s not. It’s got huge critical mass in a lot of really terrific areas relative to data and analytics and technology. It’s really an area I’ve spent the last decade working in. If you could design a company for the information age, a place to help define what the future will be, it would look a lot like Leidos. It is a terrific platform to drive performance. It is an unfinished product, but I think that working together we can make a difference.

But for me, what really attracted me was the people. The chance to work with these people is thrilling. This company runs because we’ve got terrific, bright, innovative, thoughtful people. I’ll be graded every day by the employees of the company. And because it’s a new company, it’s a chance to build Leidos into what it will be in the future. It’s very exciting to me, and I can’t wait to get started.

What are your goals for Leidos?

My goals center on making Leidos the best place to work. I'll be happy when people start naming Leidos the best company to work for. We have to make this a place that the best people will want to come. If we do that, everything else will have worked out. We would have returned value to the shareholders. We would have delighted our customers. We would have communities who love having Leidos. If we take care of our employees, they will take care of our customers.

Beyond that, we will get the core engine working, continue to develop the capabilities we need to compete, and then look for near adjacencies that make sense for us to move into. Initially, no big change over what the team has put together. A lot of work has been done on strategy. Based on what I know going in, I don’t have a big agenda to go to the whiteboard and start over again. There’s a lot already in process between John and the leadership team to make sure the company is well-positioned and affordable. You can’t talk about defense and government today without talking about “more for less.” We understand that. There are a lot of competitions that are “lowest price, technically acceptable.” This company, like every other company, is focused on providing more value. There are a lot of initiatives that are already underway. I plan to get in line and pick up where John has left off.

How did you and Leidos come together?

I’ve known Leidos and SAIC for probably 20 years. I know many of its people from before and after the split, people on both sides of the company. I’ve worked with several of the executives on the Leidos side. We’ve actually done a lot of work together. I’ve seen what this company does. It’s such a great franchise.

Where does the market stand?

My job is to help prepare the groundwork for us to be successful in whatever the environment. As I look at Leidos going forward, and looking at the areas in which it competes, if you were going to segment the defense market, Leidos is in the best of the markets. If you look at the problems we are solving, and the value we are creating for the customer, we are in these areas that will be stronger than the norm. The formula is to take the technical strength we have developed on the government side and to move into near adjacencies in engineering, infrastructure, and healthcare. I think that those are growth markets.

What is the job of the CEO?

I think the job has three pieces. First, I’m the custodian of the vision, the mission, and the strategy. That doesn’t mean that I’m the sole creator, but I think I get to listen and nurture and codify it, and tweak it as needed. What’s great is that a lot of thought went into those three topics. I feel like the whole organization has been engaged, so we’ve got a great starting point.

Second, my job is that of CTO—chief talent officer. I think a really important role for me is to find and promote and connect people with their future. We want the best of the best. Especially in the markets we're in, there are a lot of great people out there. A lot of great people who view Leidos as a terrific opportunity.

Finally, my role is to make sure there is money in the bank. Make sure we’re returning value to the shareholders, and manage the income statement and the balance sheet. I was thinking about what makes a CEO successful. These are the areas I will judge myself. Did we have a great strategy? Did we create a vision that sets this company apart? Is it a place where people want to come to work? Have we made a difference as a company? We have this great opportunity to decide what Leidos will become.

 

Published July 14, 2014

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