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This article was Originally Published on Aug 01, 2002 in Volume: 1  Issue: 4


Interview with Mark H. Ronald


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Mark H. Ronald is president and chief executive officer of BAE Systems North America, a $4-billion-in-sales  defense, aerospace and information technology company, and a member of the board of directors of its $20 billion-in-sales British parent corporation, BAE Systems (PLC). He brings 35 years of aerospace and defense experience to his position, overseeing all aspects of the company's operations out of its Rockville, MD, headquarters.

BAE Systems provides leading-edge technology to government and commercial customers worldwide in the areas of information systems, electronics, avionics, communications and systems engineering. It is composed of four major sectors: Information Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Technologies Services, Controls.

Q: BAE Systems North America is a relatively new name, yet the legacy companies that are components are well known to most Americans. What direction will the company take in increasing its visibility in the aerospace marketplace here?

A: Although BAE Systems is a relatively new name, we are one of the world's largest defense and aerospace companies with nearly 100,000 employees, annual sales in excess of $18 billion, and a very strong balance sheet. BAE Systems North America is a substantial business in its own right, with nearly $4 billion in sales and 22,000 employees in 30 states. Our North America business has industry leading positions in a broad array of products, including electronic warfare, IFF, reconnaissance and surveillance systems, geospatial referencing, mission planning, aircraft engine and flight controls, chemical agent detectors, as well as being the largest services provider to the U.S. Navy. Our visibility is increasing with every customer we satisfy and every new contract we win.

Q: As a follow-up to the previous question - and given the current merger and consolidation wave within aerospace- and defense-related industries - do you anticipate that your company will acquire additional units in the near future?

A: I've said publicly many times that it is our intent to continue to grow our U.S. business, both organically and through acquisitions where they make sense. I believe we've established a pretty impressive record of growing our businesses, meeting our commitments to our customers, and investing in jobs, in technology and in the communities where our employees live and work. And we will continue to do so.

Q: The company defines its core competencies as defense electronics, information technology and systems engineering. Are there any other areas over the horizon?

A: I don't see our core competencies expanding, but I do see us leveraging our experience and leadership positions in these areas to undertake more systems and prime integrating contract work, particularly in C4ISR, network-centric warfare, and technical services.

Q: BAE Systems North America has its own board of directors. Who are they and what is their role?

A: BAE Systems North America is a U.S. corporation, subject to U.S. laws and regulations, and cleared by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the intelligence community to operate on classified programs at all security levels. We have our own board of directors, with a government security committee comprised of prominent U.S. citizens with exemplary national security credentials who oversee the classified aspects of the business and ensure compliance with our special security agreement with the U.S. government. Another key role for our board is to advise us on our future strategy.

Q: Could you identify a few of the programs BAE Systems is competing for in the near future?

A: We've submitted a bid for the U.S. Navy's multi-mission maritime aircraft that combines the U.K. Royal Navy's MRA4 aircraft with our North America electronic subsystems and program management expertise. This is a great example of how we're leveraging the global strengths of BAE Systems. We're also pursuing key roles on a number of programs that are in their formative stages, programs like airborne electronic attack, the multi-mission command and control constellation and the joint command and control ship.

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