Letting Performance Speak for Itself: Phebe N. Novakovic
Phebe N. Novakovicis the Chairman and Chief Executive Officerof General Dynamics Corporation and also a and former intelligence officer. As of 2018, she is listed as the 25th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
You seldom appear on TV. How come you are relatively media shy?
So itís a conscious decision based in two parts. One, I think performance speaks for itself. And absent performance, you really donít have anything to say. And results matter. And results are, at the end of the day, all that really does matter. So thatís number one. Number two, Iíve lived in this town for a long time. And Iíve learned that itís best to fly underneath the radar screen. So we do that. Weíre a quiet company. And we pride ourselves on that. We try to be low maintenance, no fuss, no muss.
Did you think a woman could become the CEO of a defense company?
So I have always worked in the national security environment, which was heavily male. I never really thought about the difference between men and women in the workplace, although we are different. So I didnít really think about the maleness of the organization. What attracted me to General Dynamics is that it was different. Iím not an engineer. I have not risen through the ranks from 25-years old. Iíve had a fairly ... unusual background. And the CEO and chairman at the time was a trial attorney from Chicago. And I thought, oh, thereís a bit of an iconoclastic culture here. And maybe thereís a place for me. You know, so much in life is about finding your place, whether itís with your family, in your community, your Nation, and in your company. And there was a place for me.
Do you think having worked in the Government helps you in your current position?
I think it does. From the outside looking in, Government can often seem inexplicable at best and incomprehensible at worst. But when youíre inside the tent, you understand the particular and peculiar demands and requirements that really are visited upon people who work in the Government. So it gave me a sense of the trials and tribulations that they have, and an intimacy with their processes, and a bit of compassion.