Playing the Long Game

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014 the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted Mike Petters, president and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, for a discussion on the need to plan further ahead in defense-industrial issues. The speech, entitled “Playing the Long Game,” is the latest in the Atlantic Council’s Captains of Industry series, a platform for senior executives in the defense industry to address the public interests their companies serve and the public policies that shape their markets. The event was moderated Steven Grundman, M.A. and George Lund fellow, with an introduction by Mark Brunner, senior adviser to Senator Mark Warner.

The crux of Petters’ talk was that leaders of companies must “play the long game”—that is, they must have the longest view of anyone else at the company. “What’s your horizon?” Petters posed, “how do you make decisions and do you make decisions on short-term pressures or long-term views?” Despite all of the instant feedback that companies get, the leaders must stay the course and have eyes on the horizon, according to Petters.

Petters emphasized the contrast between thinking short-term and thinking long-term: “The real challenge that businesses have is that we think about everything in terms of investment and return and our customer and the taxpayers think about it terms of budget and expense. And where that intersects in our business is in the contracts that we sign.” Petters viewed these budget pressures as a mounting challenge. To overcome this challenge, business leaders must ensure that their employees are given the best opportunities to do their best work. By caring for and investing in its employees, a business can expect favorable returns in terms of production.

To listen to more of Petters’ comments, watch the video of the discussion.

Related Experts: Steven Grundman