Barbara Borgonovi, President, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems, Raytheon Intelligence & Space
How is Raytheon Intelligence & Space changing the game within the industry?
Our ISR Systems product line delivers transformative ISR solutions that enable decision superiority for U.S. warfighters and allies across all domains. Simply put, we develop some of the most advanced systems in the world to help service members deliver the right data at the right time to make the right decisions.
We produce and sustain world class electro-optical infrared sensors, radars, focal plane arrays, and special mission aircraft. We’re using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
In Canada, Raytheon ELCAN delivers high‐precision optical systems. Ultimately, we are providing the ability to see better than anyone else in the world with greater precision and realism – from the battlefield to the cockpit, to outer space.
The best advice Barbara received.
Never stop learning. If you know your job’s playbook inside and out, it might be time to find a new opportunity so you can enable faster learning for you.
What is your role at your organization today?
As the strategic business unit president for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, I lead a team of more than 7,000 employees located around the world. We’re headquartered in Texas in the United States, but we have quite a few employees in California. I am also responsible for enabling the success of Raytheon UK and Raytheon ELCAN in Midland, Canada.
I started with Raytheon over 20 years ago as a mechanical engineer and throughout my career, I have focused on finding the next role where I could learn the most. I’ve worked in five functions: engineering, program management, supply chain, operations, and mission assurance.
What was your most challenging moment?
I was very comfortable living in California close to my family. When I was asked to take on a new role in another state, I faced a challenging decision to leave my comfort zone which included leaving a role I knew how to perform in. I chose to take it on, and I have learned that I grow the most when I face my fears and get uncomfortable. I also learned that living in new states opens myself up to new friendships and experiences. I’m thankful for the challenges because they often turn into opportunities to learn and grow.
What was your A-HA moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader, tell us that story?
The first program manager assignment I had was on a program that was over budget and behind schedule. I spent months trying to find ways to reduce cost and improve schedule by implementing small changes. One day a mentor asked me what I would do differently if I could start over, and what support I needed to make those changes happen now. It completely opened my eyes to the possibility of radical change happening even on an ongoing effort. Instead of trying to shave off cost and schedule, we relooked at the program and built it back up by significantly changing how we were executing. I had to seek support from my leadership and customer and found that they were ready to support. The end result was that we recovered schedule and on the next proposal we were able to bid 40% lower on cost.
What is a habit that contributes to your success?
I am only successful due to the team I have around me. I purposely surround myself with individuals that I know can fill in gaps and are willing to challenge me. A strong team requires transparent and trusting relationships, and I build that trust by ensuring that I am available to my team through a daily call back list. This habit of committing the time for informal and open conversations contributes to our success as a team.
What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?
I’m inspired by the innovation happening in our organization every day, from the actual technology we develop to the way we have adapted to change over the past two challenging years.
Right now, I am so impressed with the teams that are driving digital innovation into our product life cycles. Having a digital twin not only accelerates design but allows continuous improvements to be made through sustainment of the product. Having the vision to design, manufacture, and support the product in a totally different way has taken many game changers.
What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your industry sector?
We are in the business of protecting lives. We must have defined processes that we follow to ensure the quality and reliability of our products. This focus is exceptionally important but sometimes can impede our industry from reaching our full potential in changing how we do things at a rapid pace. However, I have found that when we spend time with our customers to define their priorities and work in collaboration, we can implement innovation in record time.
One example of us being able to innovate on a process to turn a product around more quickly for our customers is when we needed a patch that would have typically required a process that can take months. Instead of doing things the way we always had, we were able to 3-D print the needed part and return hardware to the field in days instead of months.
What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Looking at the new year ahead of us, I am fired up about delivering on the commitments we make to our customers. Warfighters and operators around the world depend on the systems we build to gain clarity on the battlefield, at sea, and in the air.
Our engineers and scientists are developing, building, and delivering disruptive technologies that help support national and global security. Being an innovative partner to our customers is something that keeps me motivated.
How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?
Raytheon Intelligence & Space is investing in innovation at every level – from our thousands of talented engineers to digital transformation to intelligent manufacturing. Recently, we opened a new Advanced Integration and Manufacturing Center in Texas – a 178,000 square foot facility that reflects the company’s strategy to transform by investing in new digital capabilities.
This makes it possible for us to develop, build, test, and deliver more advanced technology with a focus on improving agility and digital engineering. Many of our most advanced ISR sensors and systems are being designed and built in the new facility. I think investments like this promote a culture of innovation throughout the organization.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
I think the biggest change is how we work. The pandemic has substantially changed how we work and where we work. We must continue to evolve at a fast pace to this new working environment.
People have always been our greatest asset, and with our planned growth we need to continue to add more skilled team members to our workforce. We have to adapt to the changing world around us in order to attract and retain our workforce of the future. This includes leveraging digital tools and rethinking how we collaborate, reward, and recognize our teams when we might not always be in the same room, state, or country.