Hunzeker is leading ITT into its multi-tiered future

ITT Mission Systems, located in Colorado Springs, provides technological services to the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, so it seems fitting that a retired Army general who served in Iraq lead the company’s efforts in the Springs.

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Kenneth Hunzeker worked in both infantry and armored positions in the Army, and also has experience in program management, strategy development and finance.

During previous tours in Iraq, he commanded the civilian police transition team that trained and equipped more than 400,000 Iraqi security forces. He also commanded the 1st Infantry Division and the 5th U.S. Corps, both in Europe.

So when ITT went searching for a new president and general manager for its Colorado Springs headquarters, it found what it was looking for in Hunzeker. He started the job in December.

You’re relatively new to ITT. What are your plans to grow and expand the business?

After retiring from a career in the military, I came to ITT’s defense headquarters in McLean, Va., as the vice president for government relations. I worked closely with all the business areas in that capacity and was able to learn a great deal about the company and its people. The strength of this company lies in the ethics, expertise, professionalism, competitive spirit and values of our people. We intend to focus on winning re-competed contracts and leveraging opportunities that allow for continued balance in our portfolio. This will include pursuing adjacent opportunities through market-based research, pursuit and capture. We’ll also continue to reinforce the values of respect, responsibility, and integrity, which represent the bedrock of our business culture.

How does the current political climate affect business at ITT?

There is a strong likelihood that the considerable debate over the level of U.S. federal spending will put pressure on all areas of discretionary spending, to include the defense budget. While we anticipate that defense spending will likely follow a downward track for the next three to four years, we do expect that there will be pockets of increased spending that is driven by growing needs for sophisticated intelligence gathering, secure information sharing and affordable solutions to modernize aged, outmoded or war-torn equipment.

What made you decide to lead ITT’s Colorado Springs division?

In January, we announced that ITT Corp. would spin off into three separate, publicly traded companies. Mission Systems would be part of the new, stand-alone defense c]ompany. Shortly after, the corporate leadership team began building a program to introduce the “Defense NewCo” to our investors, creditors, and customers. One of the many things we expect these groups will review when determining investment strategy is the management team, particularly as it applies to the separate businesses within the new defense company. In addition, my predecessor had indicated his desire to retire in early 2012. Given those parameters, we felt it was important to accelerate the leadership change here in order to demonstrate continuity and stability in the Mission Systems executive team. Obviously, we could not demonstrate that continuity if our leadership team contained a senior leader who would retire soon after the spin-off.

Another important factor that influenced this decision from both a personal and a professional standpoint is the Colorado Springs community. In addition to working with an amazing and professional Mission Systems team that is performing all around the world, it didn’t take long for me to figure out what an amazing area this is. I have met and continue meeting many people in Colorado Springs and — business related or not — they have all made me and my family feel welcome. We are looking forward to becoming a long-time member of this great community.

The company’s done some restructuring nationally. Does that affect the Colorado Springs business?

As you may know, in January, ITT Corporation announced its plans to separate the company’s businesses into three distinct, publicly traded companies. This announcement will allow each business to be valued by the marketplace according to their business contributions. While there is much work to be done to prepare for the spin-off, we believe the impact on Mission Systems will be negligible. Our focus pre-, during, and post-spin-off is on continuing to provide the same high-quality products and services our customers expect from us. This is an incredibly talented organization that has produced impressive business growth over the last few years, and I am honored to work with them to continue meeting our customers’ needs.

What are the immediate challenges your company is facing?

There are, of course, the challenges of the financial climate and the shrinking defense budget, but we remain confident we can meet the expectations of our customers and shareholders, the American public, our allies, and our courageous servicemen and women who depend on Mission Systems to help them to defend this nation and our freedom. We continue to be a company with great employees and an exciting future. We will continue to grow the business and make a difference in the lives of our employees and our customers and I’m looking forward to leading this great team in that effort.