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Executive Spotlight: Joe Anderson, President & CEO of RSGS

Joe Anderson

President & CEO


Executive Spotlight: Joe Anderson, President & CEO of RSGS

Joe Anderson, president and CEO of Rafael Systems Global Sustainment, recently spoke with the Potomac Officers Club to share his thoughts on leadership, effective management, winning business and successfully navigating the evolving GovCon landscape. Anderson is a U.S. Army veteran, and his private sector career notably includes numerous advisory roles for GovCon organizations like Dataminr, and Beacon Global Strategies, among others.

What can you tell us about your background and how you’ve been able to adapt to the ever-changing challenges of the federal landscape over the course of your career?

I served 38 years in the Army and have been a CEO for three years. What has kept me ahead of the challenges has been taking a proactive versus reactive approach to getting things done. Being adaptive and resilient have also been essential ingredients for success. Key to all of this is always understanding the strategy from your higher headquarters or parent company and effectively communicating both upwards and downwards. Of course establishing priorities and keeping your team focused on those priorities is also important. Everything cannot be equally important, and managing time is usually the most precious resource that you have. Another aspect of time is finding time to think. You have to balance your schedule and find the time to think things through.  

What do you believe are your core strengths as a leader and what lessons taught you the most about driving success?

My core strengths are leadership, loyalty, selfless service and integrity. I understand the importance of having a vision and getting a team aligned to accomplish goals and objectives. The keys to driving success for me are passion, persistence, patience and perseverance. At the end of the day, your people are what drive success. How you set the example for them and take care of them along the way is very important. Your character must be your guide, and you have to believe in yourself and others in order to get the job done. 

How would you describe your management style and core values towards building a winning culture?

I would describe my management style as decentralized. I prefer for decisions to be made at the lowest level possible in an organization and to empower your people to do exactly that. That requires trust and confidence in your team to create that winning culture. Teaching your people to be independent and empowered takes time. I think the best way to do this is to help your people learn through success rather than through failure. How you coach and mentor them to be successful is hugely important.

How would you advise someone entering our industry to build their resume and advance their careers to be in the best position in the years to come?

Building and using a network is the most important thing you have to do to best position yourself for the future. It is much better for someone to refer you to a company than for someone to have to refer to your resume. Your resume needs to be accurate, clear and concise. A varied and rich experience is always helpful on a resume. Education and additional skill sets add depth to a resume as well as solid references. Finding and using mentors to help you with preparing for interviews and getting sage advice is very valuable.  

With emerging technology influencing the federal government and industry more by the day, what are some of the challenges on the business side of innovation that aren’t always discussed as often as they should be?

I believe maturation and integration levels are some of the challenges on the business side of innovation that aren’t always discussed. Everyone seems more comfortable with relying on technological readiness levels, but sometimes innovation needs to be looked at more broadly. The use of commercially available technologies versus products that require long test and evaluation times is much more prudent in this rapidly changing world. How businesses best invest their IRAD funds is a continual challenge based on how they assess their return on investment. The federal government does not provide any guarantees on contracts and is not necessarily concerned with what industry spends to compete on bids and proposals.

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