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CEO@Smith: Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman

Feb 10, 2015
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In the largest CEO@Smith event to date, Wes Bush, CEO and president of Northrop Grumman, discussed developing critical technologies of the defense industry and developing great employees and leaders that make those technologies happen.

“One of the most important activities of any leader is developing the team of leaders for the future,” he said to the audience of students, faculty and staff in Frank Auditorium. Bush came to the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, on Feb. 3, 2015, as the first speaker in the 2015 CEO @ Smith Speaker Series.

Bush was elected to Northrop Grumman’s Board of Directors in 2009, became chief executive officer and president in January 2010 and assumed the role of chairman in July 2011. He also serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, such as the Business-Higher Education Forum, Conservation International and the U.S Naval Academy Foundation.

Northrop Grumman, a critical company in the defense industry, sponsors the ACES program at UMD, one of the first cybersecurity honors program in the United States. They also employ more than 1,100 University of Maryland, College Park alumni – more than any other university in the nation – including Ken Bedingfield ’94, their chief financial officer who introduced Bush at the CEO @ Smith event.

Bush discussed the many sectors of his company, including aerospace systems, electronic systems, information systems and technical services.  

He highlighted three key technologies his company works on:

  1. The use of unmanned systems
  2. Cybersecurity
  3. New space telescope technology

“After several decades in the industry, I can tell you I think it is the most exciting, fulfilling and satisfying industry a young person can pursue,” he said. While these technologies are revolutionary, “we know it is people who develop these technologies. Just as we develop outstanding technologies, we also work hard to develop great leaders.”

Bush offered three key strengths he believes are found in almost all successful leaders:

  1. A passionate commitment to their work. Passionate leaders can inspire their teams and motivate a company to succeed, Bush said.
  2. Knowledge and expertise of the field. Passion also comes from working inside of a business and having a variety of experiences that give you a breadth and depth of understanding, he said.
  3. Uncompromising ethics and integrity. For companies to stay strong they must have a culture of integrity in both relationships and performance, built on a foundation of trust, Bush stressed.

“Trust is what keeps our customers coming back for more of the same high-quality support that we have a reputation for delivering,” he said.

For more information on future CEO @ Smith presentations, visit rhsmith.umd.edu/ceos.

Photo highlights are on the Smith School's Facebook page.

Erica Bonelli, intern, Office of Marketing Communications

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.