By Paul Feinberg
William (Bill) L. Ballhaus ('98) was named president and chief executive officer of DynCorp International in May 2008. Since then, the company, which provides critical services to U.S. and allied civilian and military government agencies worldwide, has grown 45%, with revenue rising from $2 billion to over $3 billion. In today's economic environment, with big-name companies going bankrupt and millions of workers being laid off, this level of growth is significant, and Ballhaus notes that DynCorp's government services sector remains healthy even in these tough times.
Ballhaus is also the newest member of the UCLA Anderson Board of Visitors and is the scheduled Saturday keynote speaker at Anderson's upcoming Alumni Weekend (October 23-24, 2009). His topic is Growth Leadership.
"There is a difference between management leadership and growth leadership," Ballhaus explained. "There is a class of managers who are very good at optimization within a set of constraints. They manage efficiencies and improvements and focus on running a business within a certain market footprint." According to Ballhaus, growth leaders differ from management leaders in how they approach various constraints. "Growth leaders don't just try to win the game they are playing; they look to change the rules of the game. They look to change the constraints to enhance the growth of business," said Ballhaus.
He said that many leaders fall into the trap of trying to optimize growth within constraints they see as hard and fixed. But, Ballhaus added, most of these constraints are self-imposed and can be broken - and when they are broken the game changes and companies outperform their competition.
"At Dyncorp, where we have been one of the fastest growing government contractors, our growth has all been organic, winning contracts that were takeaways from our competitors and using new innovations in areas where we didn't operate previously."
Ballhaus acknowledges that DynCorp's growth over the past year is partly a result of being in the right field. As a former executive in the satellite industry (at The Boeing Company, previously Hughes Space and Communications), he knows that there are times when success means merely maintaining a flat rate of growth. But DynCorp is a defense contractor, as Ballhaus explains. It's a company in "government services in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy." And he adds, "Relative to the rest of the economy, that's an attractive, well-funded market to be in. Our capabilities are well-aligned with supporting U.S. national security and foreign policy, and with the ‘smart power' needs of the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those capabilities include nation-building and capacity-building, the training and mentoring of foreign government police and security institutions and personnel..."
DynCorp's global focus dovetails with Ballhaus' decision to join Anderson's Board of Visitors. First and foremost, he says he has a great affinity for the school, based on the caliber of the MBA program(s) and the experiences he had as a student. "I learned a tremendous amount about business and leadership while I was at Anderson," said Ballhaus, who is also on the Board of Advisors for the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science Institute for Technology Advancement. Now, he's enthusiastic about the global vision at Anderson.
"I'm excited about the global strategy Dean (Judy) Olian has brought to Anderson," Ballhaus said. "In today's increasingly global world, providing that experience to students is paramount. I'm very much intrigued by the opportunities and very supportive, and I wanted to get involved and share my experiences in that context."
For more about DynCorp International, click here.
For Bill Ballhaus' complete bio, click here.