Head of Jacobs' government business says KeyW acquisition has bolstered cyber work

By Marjorie Censer / June 30, 2020 at 12:59 PM

About a year after Jacobs' acquisition of KeyW, a top Jacobs executive says the company's new cyber business unit is benefiting from KeyW's expertise.

In an interview with Inside Defense earlier this month, Dawne Hickton, who leads Jacobs' critical mission solutions business, said Jacobs, before the acquisition, had been moving into additional cyber work.

But "KeyW accelerated that cyber opportunity," she said, noting that one of the company's early actions was creating a separate business unit for cyber.

In February, Jacobs announced it had hired Caesar Nieves to lead the cyber organization, providing "senior leadership, strategic vision and focus for Jacobs' cyber business as the company expands its cyber footprint across this rapidly growing sector."

Nieves previously held leadership roles at Engility, Unisys, Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton. His most recent previous role was vice president of corporate growth and strategy at CALIBRE Systems.

Hickton said Jacobs' cyber unit benefited from the "critical mass that KeyW brought us."

Meanwhile, she said immediately after the acquisition some employees departed who didn't necessarily want to work in a larger company.

"Like any organization, when the acquisition first closed, we did see the loss of some employees," she said. "We had a very typical attrition rate immediately following the acquisition -- which we planned for."

But Hickton said Jacobs moved quickly to retain key employees. That effort included maintaining employees' existing healthcare benefits for the first year and sending top Jacobs executives to meet with employees.

"I don't know that you ever get 100% integrated, but I would say we're no longer focused on integration," Hickton said. KeyW employees are "part of the team, and we're now focused on growing."