On June 24, 2015 the Atlantic Council hosted a panel discussion with Michael Andersson, President and CEO of Saab North America, Judy Marks, President and CEO of Siemens Government Technologies, Allen Pellegrini, President and CEO of Thales USA, and Peter Lengyel, President and CEO of Safran USA. This extraordinary panel was a part of the Brent Scowcroft Center’s Captain of Industry series.
The discussion covered the role and challenges of being a global supplier in the US defense market. All of the panelists gave statements on their respective company’s mission in the defense market and the products they offer in public and government sectors. The role partnerships play in conducting business was also discussed.
When asked by moderator Steven Grundman, Atlantic Council’s M.A. and George Lund fellow, about the impact if the shrinking US military budget has on their business, Lengyel stated that Safran has avoided the pitfall because of its “dual-use technologies” allowing commercial and international use. In addition, Lengyel stated that it is important for companies to have foreign content to be able to sell outside of the United States when there are budgetary constraints.
Investment into R&D was a major point of agreement amongst the panel. Pellegrini stated that it is in Thales “DNA” to invest in R&D to push innovation. Marks emphasized the importance of internal R&D and the opportunities that come when R&D is tailored to the specific needs of companies. Andersson noted that partnerships are easier to build with US companies when there are a wide range of products offered.
The Captains of Industry Series is a platform for senior defense industry executives to address the public interests their companies serve and the public policies that shape their markets. By engaging the perspective of business leaders about issues at the interface of defense ministries and industries, the series will cultivate a constituency for practical solutions to these problems.