New L3 executives promise more integrated approach

By Marjorie Censer  / September 19, 2018

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- Two L3 Technologies executives, both of whom joined the contractor this year, said the company's more integrated approach will open up opportunities, particularly in maritime work and in the international market.

Speaking to Inside Defense from the exhibit floor of the Air Force Association conference here, Sean Stackley, who joined the company in January but was promoted this week to head its communications business, said L3 previously operated as a holding company.

"L3 is no longer a holding company; L3 is an operating company, and it all starts with strategy," Stackley said. "You start to envision, how can L3 be restructured and charge down the path of integration to move away from a holding company that brings products to the customer to an operating company that brings systems and high-end capabilities to the customer?"

Stephen O'Bryan, named L3's chief global business development officer in July, told Inside Defense at the same event that L3 is seeking to retain nimbleness while taking this more integrated approach.

"You want to be an agile, innovative defense company that can move quickly and do things at a speed that more traditional companies are not used to," he said. "How do you mesh into it a more collaborative, integrated approach without in any way affecting or changing that agility, that innovation? . . . That's the trick."

Stackley said he sees significant opportunities in bringing together the company's maritime work, which was spread among its businesses but will now all reside in the division he's overseeing. That work includes the company's unmanned underwater vehicle efforts; L3 has made several acquisitions related to UUVs in recent years.

"If you look at the way L3 was organized in terms of naval -- very disaggregated and, as a result, we missed so many opportunities," he said. "Let's pull our maritime together and represent a single maritime capability to the broad customer base, which is Navy, Coast Guard and international."

Stackley said the UUV market is still relatively immature. "We're really on the front end of UUVs, [unmanned surface vehicles]," he added. "I think it's still an open field in terms of innovation and technologies."

O'Bryan said a more collaborative approach will also bolster the company's international prospects.

"I think there are tremendous upside opportunities," he said. "Without a collaborative approach, it's hard to go internationally."

Additionally, O'Bryan told Inside Defense he sees the Pentagon as more open to risk as it seeks to move quickly.

"If they're willing to take risk, we're willing to take risk," he said. "We're right there with them. And I don't think the department's going to look too favorably if you say, 'We want you, the department, to take risk, but we're not going to take any."