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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2019

An Interview with Stuart Bradie, KBR, Inc. CEO: ‘We Take Great Pride in Our Role to Support Industries, Governments, and Citizens around the World to Achieve the Greatest Advancements Economically, Socially and Environmentally’

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“KBR’s process technology portfolio continues to expand with greener, cleaner solutions that support the world’s transition to clean energy.”

From individual technologies and services to comprehensive project delivery and mission execution, no other company can match the breadth and depth of solutions what KBR, Inc. is offering. The company’s complete, turnkey, EPC solutions provide significant value to its customers, allowing them to focus on their objectives. Whatever the need, KBR stands-up and provides solutions for the needs of today and tomorrow.

KBR is a global provider of differentiated professional services and technologies operating across three synergistic global businesses: Government Solutions, Technology Solutions and Energy Solutions.

KBR was incorporated in 1919 and is headquartered in Houston, Texas with customers in more than 80 countries, and operations in 40.

Stuart Bradie, KBR, Inc. CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. How did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

In 2014, KBR embarked on an aggressive and successful business strategy to diversify KBR’s industry and customer base. During my first six months, I proposed a plan to stabilize the company by simplifying the structure, reducing annual operating costs by $200 million and creating a more market-focused business.

Once that was accomplished, our leadership then pivoted the business strategy to position KBR for long-term growth by expanding our footprint in the US government solutions market. This added differentiated, high-end technical capabilities servicing the U.S. military, NASA, and other government agencies. This gave KBR access to broader and more consistent funding sources from the government enabling us to apply greater selectivity to KBR’s mix of work in the energy market which reduced our exposure to the more volatile EPC contracts in the oil and gas market.

In the Government Solutions offering, KBR acquired three respected, leading government solutions providers – Wyle Laboratories, Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc. (HTSI), and Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (SGT) – to create a global Government Solutions business that offers capabilities that cover the full lifecycle of defense and aerospace providing mission-critical support for space agencies, militaries, and other government agencies around the world.

The Energy Solutions business was reorganized into two lines – Delivery and Services – each with a specific focus that leverages KBR’s experience, history and specialized capabilities. Underpinning these strategic moves was a strong commitment to growing KBR’s Technology business year over year by over 10 percent as a stabilizing force and reliable margin and cash flow producer for the company.

In 2014, KBR was an engineering, construction and services company with four years of declining revenues. Now, KBR is a global provider of differentiated professional services and technologies across the asset and program lifecycle within the Government Solutions and Energy sectors. By focusing on a high-growth strategic opportunity with significant potential for long-term, predictable revenue growth, KBR’s second-quarter 2019 earnings report marked the 10th straight quarter of the company meeting or exceeding expectations.

The culmination of the business strategy, the pivot to Government Solutions and the strong growth of technology has substantially repositioned KBR and rebalanced its risk and capability portfolio mix. Reflecting this transformation, KBR’s GICS code was changed in May of this year and the company began trading under the Consulting and IT category.

Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years?

When KBR begin to reinvent itself it 2014, the biggest challenges we faced were cultural.

The leadership wanted to create a constructive and safe environment that allowed people to challenge the norm, voice ideas and push back when appropriate with the goal of ultimately making the best possible decisions. Even when people don’t agree with certain decisions, it is easier for them to accept those decisions if they have contributed to the debate and understand the rationale.

Creating this team ‘ethos’ was a significant cultural shift but one that was tackled head-on and the company is now seeing the fruits of those labors.

I am very proud of our dynamic, high performing and passionate team culture.

I am very proud of the ‘Zero Harm’ safety culture that we’ve cascaded throughout the whole of our global organization. Every KBR employee believes that zero incidents is achievable and works toward that goal every day. When I came to KBR, there was no one at the executive level who was responsible for safety. Rectifying that was the first step to creating the ‘Zero Harm’ safety culture we have today which is among the best in the business and has dramatically improved our safety related leading indicators dramatically across the business. We have seen a 74 percent improvement in incident rates since the launch of ‘Zero Harm’ in 2014.

Q. How often do you innovate? Is it only when there is a need in the market?

From our 100-year heritage of pioneering energy, technology and government solutions, KBR is constantly innovating and constantly embracing new technologies to make our clients’ projects successful. From demonstrated expertise across the AI spectrum to developing high fidelity digital twin models, autonomous systems and a broad range of analytics applications, KBR is leading the way in digital transformation in the execution of projects in all sectors. As the colors of our logo indicate our solutions are being utilized on land, sea, air and space for unmanned aerial systems, space robotics, automated planning and scheduling, safety, anomaly detection, image/video analysis and cybersecurity. KBR starts with the end in mind and its various digital offerings are appearing across the full asset lifecycle in Energy and Government.

KBR is leading the industry to meet the world’s ever-growing energy and chemicals demands.

The company’s process technology portfolio continues to expand with greener, cleaner solutions that support the world’s transition to clean energy. From refining and petrochemicals to ammonia, fertilizers and inorganics, KBR is consistently pioneering best-in-class processing technology solutions that reliably, efficiently, and safely optimize a wide range of plants and facilities.

Q. What are the factors that make your brand one of the smartest and why?

“We have smart people doing exceptional things every day”. Our people are leaders and support NASA in human space flight and care for the health and wellbeing of every astronaut that goes into space. They support the militaries of the U.S., UK, and Australia doing everything from base operations and battlefield readiness to providing high tech services for cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and weapons systems. They create cleaner, safer technologies and design, build and service complex process facilities all over the world.

KBR has successfully executed some of the most challenging and mission-critical projects around the world. Our people constantly inspire me by creating solutions that deliver the impossible on a daily basis.

Q. As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We take great pride in our role to support industries, governments and citizens around the world to achieve the greatest advancements economically, socially, and environmentally. Our mission and values guide us in our purpose to focus on what is important and to progress in economic growth, social inclusion, environmental protection, physical and digital safety and life conditions.

KBR’s work on the Landsat program is just one example where we help equip NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey with critical data about the Earth by capturing data from satellites to provide essential information to help land managers and policymakers make wise decisions about our resources and our environment.

Our commitment to sustainability is evident in the long-term relationships we forge in our communities, such as our environmental educational program, One Ocean, where our employees support local schools and work together to tackle the plastic pollution in our oceans. We are proud of our employees, who actively contribute and engage as demonstrated by donations to disaster relief funds following the devastating results of Hurricane Harvey.

We continually strive to develop new technologies that benefit our planet. KBR’s Technology Solutions business unit offers green technologies and sustainability efforts that reduce our environmental footprint while delivering next-generation solutions for the future.

Stuart Bradie: A Formidable Leader

Stuart Bradie assumed the role of President and CEO of KBR in June 2014. With 30 years of industry experience, he leads KBR from its global headquarters in Houston, Texas with more than 38,000 employees worldwide.

Mr. Bradie has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Aberdeen University and a Master of Business Administration from the Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University.

“Our mission and values guide us in our purpose to focus on what is important and to progress in economic growth, social inclusion, environmental protection, physical and digital safety, and life conditions.”