Meet Jerry Howe: 5 burning questions with our new general counsel
Leidos has a new general counsel, a senior leadership role that oversees the company’s legal department, among other responsibilities. Jerry Howe’s pedigree speaks for itself. He graduated from Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard Law. He’s held top legal posts, and represented world-class clients. But what are his thoughts entering the role? Here’s what he had to say.
How do you broadly define the role of general counsel?
I view the role as twofold. First and foremost, my efforts will be focused on delivering quality legal advice and representation. This includes supervising contracts and developing a world-class legal team. But I’ll also be devoted to enable winning new business. This is done by partnering with operations, business development, and corporate service functions. I like to be out supporting the operations to help the company win new business. So, my job is both to lead the law department and to help us find innovative approaches to win new work.
What type of legal counsel is most pressing for Leidos?
From time to time, participants in the defense contracting business experience scandals and major disputes with customers. A big part of the job is to help the company and its business partners avoid those situations. We help the business development team understand RFPs to ensure we’re fully responsive and compliant. If a teaming arrangement or joint venture is needed to go after a big contract, we help negotiate and form teams effectively. When we win a contract, we help fend off bid protests. Part of what we do is to make sure our proposals are developed in a way to minimize the potential for protest if we do win. We identify trends to avoid the kinds of proposals that are being attacked at any given time.
What’s your style of leadership?
I believe in enabling my teams to succeed — delegating responsibility, but also making sure they have the tools to succeed. I believe everyone should be better at their job each year. I will delegate, but I demand excellence. Everything starts with excellence. My law school mentor had a saying: “Nothing short of an impossible best.” That was his mantra, and that’s why he became the best lawyer in America.
The Lockheed Martin IS&GS merger is still a hot topic at the water cooler. What’s your perspective?
I’ve represented Leidos for the past four-and-a-half years, and I was involved in the merger transaction. It’s a big part of the reason I’m excited about this role. The combined company has so much depth and mass. No one has ever tried to grow an aerospace, defense, and services company from 10 billion dollars to 15 billion dollars. The opportunity to help engineer organic growth is tremendous for all of us. We now have so much ability to be bold and win the big contacts. I’m really excited to see if we can do it.
You’ve competed against Leidos in previous roles. How does the industry view Leidos?
Most people know its strong heritage. Leidos is a really, really tough and savvy competitor, and we command a tremendous amount of respect. I believe we have an even better future.