How do you split a multibillion dollar company? Ask Pamplin MBA alumnus Doug Wagoner
November 5, 2013
If splitting a Fortune 500 company with over $11 billion in annual revenues and some 38,000 employees sounds like a monumental task, Pamplin College of Business alumnus Doug Wagoner will tell you it’s all that, and then some.
Wagoner is a senior vice president at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the McLean, Va.-based federal government contractor that announced in August 2012 that it would separate into two independent, publicly traded companies. Wagoner was put in charge of the break-up.
“It is the most challenging and nerve-wracking assignment I could have ever imagined in my career,” says Wagoner, who earned an MBA in 1990. “It is also the most fun and rewarding — the best learning experience I’ve had since Pamplin.”
A 25-year veteran of the federal technology industry, Wagoner had led SAIC’s homeland and civilian solutions business unit for five years when he was reassigned to the split, which aimed to leave one company focused on technical engineering and IT services for government and other large organizations, and the other — what SAIC calls “a solutions-focused business” — catering to the national security, engineering, and health sectors.
One of the most memorable aspects of his work, Wagoner says, was the naming and branding of the solutions company.
“We hired one of the best branding firms in the world, Interbrand, to support us and thought naming would take a few weeks. I was not prepared for the complexity, in the social media age, of naming a multibillion dollar, global company that operates in 40 countries and in diverse industries.
“With more than 240 million registered domains in the world, it is very hard to find a name available that resonates across many industries, passes global copyright reviews, and does not insult someone in a foreign language.”
The chosen moniker, “Leidos,” received a grand unveiling. “The name is clipped from ‘kaleidoscope’ to signify looking at and enlightening a problem from different perspectives,” he says. “We knew employees would prefer a more literal name, given the history and background of the company and employee base, but those names were all taken many, many years ago. Thus, the immediate reaction to ‘Leidos’ was very vocal, and mostly negative.”
Wagoner’s work on the initiative reached its conclusion when SAIC's board approved the split in early September. Though the two new companies began their first day as separate entities on Sept. 30, they have been organized and operating within SAIC since this spring, he says.
Wagoner, whose resumé includes years at EDS (now HP) and ChoicePoint, joined SAIC in 2007 as a business unit leader. He was drawn by the breadth and depth of the company’s capabilities and its strong ethical foundation, he says, as well as the opportunity to “run a very sizable business and be an entrepreneur within a larger corporation.”
Learn more about how Wagoner designed two multibillion dollar companies from the ground up and what SAIC and Leidos, which employ more than 1,200 Hokies, look for in their hires in the fall issue of Virginia Tech Business, the magazine of the Pamplin College of Business.
Doug Wagoner and SAIC
Doug Wagoner, who was put in charge of SAIC's break-up, called it "the most nerve-wracking assignment" he could have imagined and also "the best learning experience since Pamplin."