The Russell File Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2009

Born: Dayton, Ohio

Education: Bachelor of science, master’s and doctorate degrees from University of Cincinnati, Department of Aerospace Engineering

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

Ballistics and armor engineer — I learned how to manage pressure situations and how to communicate highly technical and sometimes complex information.

What’s your definition of success?

In business, it is exceeding stakeholder expectations (customer, shareholder and employees).

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Focus completely on the customer and user during a time of urgent demand.

If you weren’t in your current position, what might you be doing instead?

Professor of engineering at a university

Russell on building relationships with employees: It’s harder to stab somebody in the back that you’ve interacted with outside of the workplace, when you’ve joked around or you’ve had some time together and talked about family life or other things. When you’re back in that intense work environment, it’s just harder to treat people disrespectfully if you’ve gone even a small step toward developing some sort of other relationship.

Our leadership team has gone on some massive trips, jumping around from one site to the other and doing these town-hall meetings. It’s the rides on the buses to the hotels and the dinners, where you’re getting around each other and joking and laughing and cutting up and having fun. It really goes a long way to creating a good working environment when you’re making hard decisions together.

Security & Survivability Division of BAE Systems by the numbers:

  • Largest supplier of commercial armored vehicles to the U.S. government since the 1940s
  • Supplier of seats for presidential helicopters for more than 30 years
  • Largest supplier of the most technically advanced racing harnesses for Formula One, Indy Racing League, NASCAR and other racing series worldwide