Published in BATTLESPACE
Written by Julian Nettlefold
“How did you come to work at CW?” The Editor asked.
“I’ve been with the company for nearly 20 years, during which time I’ve held a variety of general management positions. Currently, I am the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Defense Electronics Segment, and based in Los Angeles, California, at one of the Segment’s cornerstone business units. I grew up in the storied aerospace industry of Southern California. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, where I studied Electrical Engineering/Computer Science, I formed my own business, which I ran from the time I was 25 until I was 40. After that, I’d made up my mind that if I were to work for a company, it would have to have an entrepreneurial spirit and culture. A gentleman, named Ron Rambin, whom I’d met through my father, had founded a company called Vista Controls, located north of Los Angeles. Over the years, Ron became a mentor to me and to a number of my peers. After he sold Vista Controls to Curtiss-Wright in 2001, a new facility was built, and when I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2003, Ron took me aside and told me I should consider coming to work for Curtiss-Wright. He told me that he’d really enjoyed the two years since the acquisition, and he believed that good things could happen for me there. My conversations with Ron and others convinced me that at Curtiss-Wright I’d find the entrepreneurial environment I was seeking, and he succeeded in getting me to come on board a couple of months later. Over the course of my career, now eighteen years and counting, my first take on the company has stayed true – it’s what keeps me enthusiastic about the work.” Chris Wiltsey said.
“Can you describe the role you have there and the people you manage?”
“I’ve held a variety of General Manager positions at Curtiss-Wright, beginning in early 2005 when I was offered the opportunity to serve as GM of a new acquisition in San Diego, California. After that, I moved a handful of times, both in the U.S. and in Europe, each time taking on larger positions and responsibility for a growing number of businesses. Currently, 1/3 of the businesses that I manage are located in the UK/Europe. Where I first started, Vista Controls, which is now part of Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, was a pioneering commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) based systems integration house for defense customers. Since then, as the COTS model has evolved from industry evangelism to a Government-mandated approach, Defense Solutions has experienced astounding growth, both organically and through the acquisition of best-in-class suppliers. This has provided me with great opportunities over the years, in a variety of different locations, to learn the business.
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