David F. Melcher

David (Dave) F. Melcher
CEO and President, Exelis

Headquarters: McLean, Virginia
Education: BS in civil engineering, U.S. Military Academy at West Point;
Master of Business Administration, Harvard University;
MS in public administration, Shippensburg University
First Job: 2nd Lieutenant, Army Corps of Engineers, Platoon Leader
What I’m Reading: Duty by Robert M. Gates
Best Advice: Be the best leader you can be in a governmental context, because the nation needs that, and in a business context, because the nation needs that, too.

Leading by example

While promoting inclusion and diversity is natural to many, not everyone understands the positive effect it can have on business. A variety of experiences, backgrounds, and voices contribute to innovative ideas that enhance business and customer relationships in ways we may not have considered from working in silos.

Company-wide diversity programs are slowly increasing in the aerospace and defense industry, but we see ourselves as leaders that aim to set a great example. At Exelis, we work to ensure every employee understands that inclusion goes far beyond race and gender; it extends to professional, educational, and personal experiences and beyond. We are proud of our diverse workforce, which helps elevate awareness about our efforts across the industry.

You must give respect in order to get respect. Respect starts with appreciating the skills and talent of every employee, and helping them build their professional career and reach their greatest potential. At Exelis, we put an emphasis on inclusion, because it takes an inclusive leader to leverage the wealth of diversity that our teams bring to every solution. As a Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army, and as a CEO, I have always found this to be true.

It is critical for senior leaders to lead a company’s push for diversity in order to benefit the company at large. At Exelis, we aim for a collaborative culture that promotes the diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and contributions of every employee.

To continue to promote a collaborative environment, we developed the Exelis Inclusion and Diversity Council, led by our Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer, Erica Jeffries. The council provides guidance on our corporate diversity and inclusion efforts; promotes professional development and training; and aims to match our employees’ rich experiential background with personal, professional, and business goals.

In October 2012, we launched the Exelis Action Corps (EAC), which is our social citizenship and volunteer program to support U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families. This is a significant cause for Exelis because more than 10 percent of our workforce consists of military veterans. Through a partnership with Points of Light, we’re investing in programs that not only support veterans and their families, but also provide career development counseling to potential candidates for our company.

Finally, Exelis, like all multinational companies, is growing its business around the world. We can create the best customer and project teams by drawing from our own multicultural and multilingual workforce.