Hugo Poza, Raytheon

For Hugo Poza, freedom is nothing to take for granted. Born in Cuba, his family fled to the United States in 1961. Since he graduated from the University of Dayton in 1966 with an electrical engineering degree, he has been deeply involved in defense electronics and avionics, serving a variety of America’s foremost defense companies, and rising progressively higher in management.

Poza also has an entrepreneurial streak and, though he worked for some of the country’s largest corporations—TRW, M/A-COM and Lockheed Martin—prior to joining Raytheon, he led the way in new business ventures, particularly in avionics, turning small startup operations into major enterprises.

So when Raytheon, headquartered in Lexington, Mass., began working in the homeland security field, Poza, who is articulate, thoughtful and very enthusiastic, seemed a natural choice to head the effort and he was named to his current position, vice president of Raytheon’s Homeland Security Strategic Business Area, in June 2002.

A rough road

Raytheon’s homeland security effort is still effectively in its startup phase and, as Poza knows well, startups can be hard to navigate.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s also a lot of fun,” he said. “There’s also a mandatory period of extreme pain for the first year and a half.” Much of the pain comes from heightened expectations and slow returns.

Raytheon had a particularly rough start as it entered the homeland security business. But Poza didn’t lose heart. What’s more, despite high-profile losses, Raytheon’s homeland security business was nonetheless proceeding apace. “We were growing the business very nicely, but up until 2004 we didn’t have the big one,” he said.

Then, Poza landed his big win on May 28, when Raytheon, as part of a team led by Accenture LLP, in Reston, Va., won the contract for US-VISIT, the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, a comprehensive program to secure American borders by monitoring visitors to the United States. The  contract is expected to be worth $10 billion over 10 years.

That win, according to Poza, completely changed the landscape: “The branding has been incredible,” he reflected.

Homeland security has become a valuable business sector within Raytheon, reassuring earlier skeptics. Teaming offers from other companies are coming in, and the company is looking beyond the United States to assist allies with their security needs.

The future

Raytheon is now looking to two major programs to expand its work in homeland security. One is Project Shield America, an effort by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect the United States from trafficking in weapons of mass destruction, explosives and firearms. Poza estimates the full program to be worth $2 billion.

The other program is the Integrated Wireless Network (IWN), a comprehensive wireless, Internet protocol-based communications system being developed by the Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security departments. Poza estimates that IWN could be worth $3 billion to $10 billion over the next 10 years.

Additionally, Raytheon is working on Britain’s e-Borders program, an enhanced version of the US-VISIT program that will track travelers to the United Kingdom. Britain has set aside 1.4 billion British pounds (roughly $2.6 billion) for the project, and British authorities are talking about spending 15 billion pounds (about $27 billion) during the next decade.

It’s all very impressive, and Poza anticipates tremendous activity in homeland security over the next 18 months. But he also doesn’t want to lose sight of the fundamentals underpinning his work and the work of his colleagues.

“We’re serious about this business,” he observed. “There is one added attraction to the homeland security business, and this is from a guy who has been in the defense business for 30 years. The reason that I get turned on—and this happens to everyone in homeland security—is that what we’re doing now is not just helping our personnel, our soldiers, our own folks in some distant land, but ourselves and our families. All of a sudden it becomes, really, a case of having skin in the game. You end up with a workforce that understands the value of these programs to the country, and the enthusiasm and the morale rise by just the fact that it is more important than anything that they’ve ever worked on before.” 

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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