Q & A at Washington Technology

I’ve been doing some interviews and public appearances as a result of the publication of the book. On April 17th, I participated in a live, online forum on the Washington Technology web site. It was very interesting and informative. Here are the first few questions and answers — you’ll find the entire interview at Washington Technology.

Q & A: 1
Nick Wakeman:
Thank you for joining us for today’s forum. Dr. J. Robert Beyster really needs no introduction. The founder and guiding force behind SAIC for three decades, Beyster has written a book — The SAIC Solution, which is available from John Wiley & Sons. The book is part memoir and part philosophy. It mixes parts of how to with stories about the people and projects that built SAIC. A guiding principle in building SAIC was employee ownership. So I’ll start today’s forum off with that question:

Why is employee ownership still important and relevant in today’s market?

J. Robert Beyster: Employee ownership is still an important principle at SAIC — the majority of employees are also owners. Our nation has a long history of employee ownership of the businesses for which they work, and there are good reasons for this. Employee-owners are more engaged in their work, they perform better and they provide better products and services to customers.

In today’s highly competitive global marketplace, our businesses need every advantage they can get. Employee ownership can provide measurable advantages to companies that adopt it. That is both important and relevant. There are over 12,000 employee-owned companies in the country today — all involve ESOPs in one form or another. At SAIC, half of the company was owned directly, and half of the company was owned by retirement programs — the ESOP and 401(k).

Q & A: 2
Tim Cooney, Baltimore MD:
Did you bootstrap SAIC when you started for a few years while working somewhere else or did you start it full time?

J. Robert Beyster: I was a research physicist at General Atomic until I left to start SAIC — when I started SAIC, it was on a full-time basis. I started SAIC after I left General Atomic. We bootstrapped SAIC in the early years. We never missed a payroll, but there were some tight times and our banking relationship was important to us.

Q & A: 3
CJ, Virginia:
What motivates you?

J. Robert Beyster: Since leaving SAIC, my life has changed. I have diversified my financial portfolio, which only included SAIC stock when I was chairman and CEO. That required a lot of time and research on my part to make sure I invested in low-risk securities. I enjoy optimizing the performance of my portfolio. I enjoy sailing, and I still do that once a month — on the same old boat. I am really enjoying the book signings where I have the opportunity to reconnect with many of my colleagues. Of course, the book itself occupied my time and mind for a year and a half and, at first, was very difficult to do, but it was well worth it. I also enjoy communicating with visitors to my blog.

Please click here to read the rest of the questions and answers.