Five GovCon Executives Specializing in Cyber Solutions
Civilian and military organizations now depend on the cyber domain for many of their functions. A string of high-profile cyberattacks over the past years demonstrated how disruptive cyberattacks can be when aimed at federal agencies and critical infrastructure sectors.
Government officials and industry experts have been calling for stronger cybersecurity in sectors such as oil and gas, health care and satellite communications.
The Department of Defense has also adopted a “defend forward” strategy to proactively root out threats in cyberspace, which the military now considers as an operational domain alongside air, land and sea.
The Potomac Officers Club—a division of Executive Mosaic—features five cyber solutions executives in the government contracting sector.
John Sahlin, Cyber Solutions Director at the Defense Division of General Dynamics Information Technology
John Sahlin is the director of cyber solutions at General Dynamics Information Technology‘s defense division, working out of the Washinton-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. He is a senior technology executive whose demonstrated expertise spans technical, program and business management, according to his LinkedIn profile.
During his long career, Sahlin has proven his ability to manage cross-functional teams and profit and loss responsibility, and drive innovation across various enterprises. He has led intellectual property investment programs at companies ranging from small businesses to large enterprises, his profile states.
Sahlin joined GDIT in January 2021. His current role sees him leading strategic planning, client engagement, solutions development for zero trust architecture, defensive cyber operations, vulnerability assessment, and the development of enterprise-class cybersecurity solutions for Department of Defense clients.
Sahlin concurrently works as an adjunct professor at George Washington University. During his over nine years of teaching at the institution, he has designed graduate-level systems engineering and cybersecurity courses. He currently teaches eight different courses in cybersecurity and information technology.
Before joining GDIT, Sahlin briefly worked as a senior program manager at IT services and consulting firm Serco. At one time, he also served as the chief technology officer at ICI Services Corporation.
For the greater part of his career spanning almost 30 years, Sahlin has balanced his corporate roles with various positions in the academe. He began his career in 1993 as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.
Sahlin earned his degree in political science from the U.S. Naval Academy. He later earned his master’s degree, and eventually, his doctorate in systems engineering from GWU.
Sandra Lopez, Chief Technology Officer at Leidos
Sandra Lopez is the chief technology officer at engineering company Leidos who oversees enterprise and cyber solutions operations. She has been holding her current leadership role since April 2020.
Lopez oversees technical innovation, differentiation and strategy across Leidos. Her work includes the development of technical solutions for priority captures, management of the company’s operational internal research and development portfolio, and support delivery for technical performance on major programs, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Lopez was the senior director for corporate technology growth and development at Engility Corp. before joining Leidos. In this position, she worked with the company’s senior management team and growth managers to develop and deliver products and services that support defense, intelligence and federal civilian clients.
The industry veteran also served in multiple leadership roles at telecommunications provider AT&T from 2004 to 2018. These roles include group manager for AT&T and director of new technology and development for the company’s government arm.
Lopez holds a master’s degree in systems engineering and operations research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.
Leidos offers cyber operations, digital modernization, mission systems and enabling technologies to various clients, including those in the aviation, defense, intelligence, national security and health care sectors. It is headquartered in Reston, Virginia, and has multiple offices within and outside the U.S.
Donald Heckman, Director of Defense Cyber Solutions at Guidehouse
Donald Heckman is the director of defense cyber solutions at consulting firm Guidehouse, working out of Bel Air, Maryland. He is a cybersecurity subject matter expert who works with defense clients on all aspects of cyber, ranging from innovative approaches to cyber strategy, policy, security architecture and engineering, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In addition to leading the firm’s defense cyber business, Heckman oversees its data protection and privacy offerings for both public and commercial sector clients. He brings over 36 years of experience in government leadership, spearheading cybersecurity and secure information sharing initiatives across the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community and national security sectors, his profile reveals.
Heckman has been working at Guidehouse for the past two years. His current role sees him playing a key role in expanding the company’s presence and value with the DOD through cyber and advanced solutions offerings.
Prior to joining Guidehouse in 2020, he served in the Pentagon in various capacities, culminating with his twin roles as the DOD’s principal deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity and its deputy chief information security officer. To cap off his over 36 years with the DOD, he oversaw the implementation of its $8 billion cybersecurity program, an effort that complied with U.S. cybersecurity laws, regulations and standards.
Heckman earned his degree in electrical and computer engineering from Drexel University. He later earned his master’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
Wen Masters, Vice President of Cyber Technologies at Mitre
Wen Masters is the vice president for cyber technologies at The Mitre Corp. She joined the nonprofit organization in 2021.
Masters oversees Mitre’s corporate cybersecurity technologies and the organization’s innovation centers in cybersecurity. She leads a team of over 600 professionals who find solutions that could solve the cyber challenges that the U.S. faces.
The cyber technologies VP also partners with Mitre’s federally funded research and development centers. Masters collaborates with Mitre Accelerator and Mitre Engenuity as well to help industry members succeed in their cyber initiatives, the company said.
The industry veteran was the deputy director of research at Georgia Tech Research Institute before joining Mitre. She was also the director of the Information and Cyber Sciences Directorate at GTRI and was a principal research scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Masters also has over 10 years of experience in the Senior Executive Service at the Office of Naval Research. She also served on the U.S. Army Science Board and the National Academy of Sciences Naval Studies Board.
The Mitre VP worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she led the orbit demonstration for NASA’s deep space exploration missions.
Masters holds a doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics from the University of California, Irvine.
The Mitre Corp. offers systems engineering, cybersecurity, acquisition effectiveness, advanced technologies and research services. It is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and has multiple offices within and outside the U.S.
Jennifer Walsmith, Corporate Vice President of Cyber & Information Solutions at Northrop Grumman
Jennifer Walsmith is the corporate vice president of cyber and information solutions at Northrop Grumman, working out of the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. She is a strategic business leader with experience operating in highly competitive, technology-driven markets, which include the public and private sectors as well as academia, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Walsmith is further described as a “systems thinker” with a foundation in technology and possessing the ability to drive mission solutions. She has delivered results working as both an executive of government intelligence agencies and as a profit and loss leader in the corporate world, her profile reveals.
Walsmith’s core expertise includes strategic value creation, critical thinking, digital transformation, leading-edge technology, complex systems development and troubled program recovery.
Walsmith joined Northrop Grumman in 2016. In her current role, she is responsible for building the new cyber and information solutions business by “missionizing leading-edge technologies ahead of market changes.”
Before joining the private sector, Walsmith served as a senior acquisition executive at the National Security Agency, where she was employed for over 15 years. In that role, she was responsible for all the agency’s procurement and acquisition globally.
Earlier in her career, Walsmith served as the director of acquisition and corporate decision, plans and analysis at the National Reconnaissance Office, a job she held for three years.
Walsmith earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
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Category: Executive Profiles
Tags: cyber solutions Donald Heckman Executive Profiles govcon government contracting Jennifer Walsmith John Sahlin Lopez Sandra Wen Masters