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Overview

Geeks, Mush Heads and the IT Revolution: How SRA International Achieved Success over Nearly Four Decades by Ernst Volgenau

SRA International grew from one person in his home basement to more than 7,000 people and nearly $2 billion in revenue in thirty years. The firm was profitable, revenue increased every year, and it became highly admired for its values and culture. SRA was on the Fortune list of 100 Best Places to Work in America for ten consecutive years. The company’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange was the sixth most successful in 2002, and the price of its stock soared. Then, at the height of success, the top management team changed twice, growth declined, the firm made a bad acquisition, and the market it served began to decrease.

SRA was sold to a private equity firm. The new owners (including the founder and author of this book) hired a dynamic young CEO who implemented changes designed to restore values, culture, and business success. As this account ends, the market was challenging, but the outlook was promising.

This book describes the lessons learned through varied phases: startup, rapid growth, changes in leadership, business problems, privatization; and it explains how high ethics and a sense of service to customers, employees, and society led to a very special company. Its intended audience is business professionals in emerging and established companies and for current and former employees and friends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442242807
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 12/05/2014
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 323,575
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ernst Volgenau has a wealth of management and educational experience. A Naval Academy graduate and a PhD in engineering from UCLA, he spent twenty years in the Air Force attaining the rank of colonel, headed the Office of Inspection and Enforcement at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and then founded and led SRA as CEO for twenty-seven years and remained chairman for the rest of the time covered by the history in this book. Not relying solely on his own judgment, the author collected the perspectives of others who had helped build the firm.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments vii

1 Idealism and Information Technology 1

2 Prologue 11

3 Countdown and… Delay Launch 18

4 Liftoff! Building a Business Based on Ethics and Performance 25

5 Fiscal Prudence and the Search for Leg Room and Talent 37

6 Planning for Emergencies 50

7 Competing for Weapons Work 59

8 Growing Culturally and Administratively 67

9 Artificial Intelligence: A Tortuous Path Forward 75

10 Game-Changers and Legacies 86

11 Innovations in Contracting and Health Care 93

12 Ethics, Vision, and People 103

13 Investments That Always Pay Off 111

14 Commercial-A New Course for a While 118

15 Going Public 128

16 Growth through Acquisitions 138

17 Big Bids, Big Wins 148

18 A Time of Troubles 158

19 The Board Faces Challenges 170

20 The Big Decision 178

21 The Grind 184

22 A New Beginning under Uncertain Conditions 197

23 Painful Decisions as the Market Declines 208

24 Epilogue 220

Appendix A Business Lessons Learned in More Than Fifty Years of Leadership 223

Appendix B SKA Awards Recipients 232

Appendix C SRA Milestones 241

Index 247

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