1991: ANSER’s Lead: Englund to Fabian
“The rest is up to you.” That was the closing line of Analytic Services President Jack Englund’s final message for the “From the President” column in the corporate newsletter Transmissions for October/November 1991. On November 2, 1991, Mr. Englund retired from his position as ANSER’s second president and chief executive officer.
“You have the challenge to continue ANSER’s work and improve it,” went the start of his closing paragraph in that column—an unexpectedly heartfelt column in which he urged the ANSER staff to “hold dear” what it was about each of them that had formed the basis for ANSER’s amazing growth. The people, in other words, were the reason that ANSER was ANSER.
The staff were continuing and improving ANSER’s work, Mr. Englund further noted in the closing paragraph, “with decreasing resources.” Although he had expounded on it earlier in the column, that decrease deserved reemphasizing because all things defense had, once again, begun changing recently—in a big way. Big not just because the defense budget was shrinking yet again, but because the entire U.S. military establishment was beginning to change in the context of international change.
Less than two years earlier, the Berlin Wall had come down. Less than two months before Jack’s November adieu as ANSER’s president, a coup was launched in Russia to remove Mikhail Gorbachev from power. Before the end of 1991, Gorbachev resigned and, the day after his resignation, the Soviet Union was dissolved. The Cold War was over. Although the war did not officially end until after the time in which Jack was writing, the effects of the waning war were already being felt throughout the defense world.
The implications for defense-related firms such as ANSER were profound. The corporate leadership would note the following year, “The Cold War is over—we won (ANSER helped).” In the wake of that figuratively celebratory note came immediate practical questions: What are new opportunities? How does ANSER fit in? Maintaining the status quo, the ANSER leadership concluded, was not an option in this new business environment.
As Mr. Englund retired in late 1991, ANSER was in an excellent position to adapt to this new environment, while at the same maintaining the identity that ANSER had built over more than 30 years. “You have strong and experienced leadership,” Mr. Englund wrote further in his closing paragraph for the Transmissions column, “a solid contract base, and an organization that is in excellent financial condition. The rest is up to you.”
The care that Mr. Englund had taken during his years to maintain the quality of ANSER’s work—to reinforce his vision of what ANSER is all about—was illuminated anecdotally in that same late 1991 issue of Transmissions. When he first became ANSER’s president, Jack continued to review all the products going out ANSER’s door. It was a standing joke among the staff that you could pick up your report with a magnet after Jack had reviewed it, because he would insert a paper clip on every page where he found a mistake. (And no matter how many people had already reviewed the report, he could always find a correction.) In the early 1980s, ANSER staff presented him with a giant paper clip mounted on a plaque, in recognition of his role as premier quality control expert.
Not long before Mr. Englund was elected to succeed ANSER’s first president, Dr. Stan Lawwill, in 1981, Jack was named executive vice president. The same progression happened with Jack’s successor: Elected in 1990 to be ANSER’s executive vice president, Dr. John Fabian became ANSER’s third president and chief executive officer on November 3, 1991.
“I see this transition,” Dr. Fabian commented, as quoted in the October/November 1991 Transmissions, “as a change in coaches who may have slightly different styles of management, but the goals of the company will remain the same. Through their leadership, [Dr. Lawwill, Mr. Englund, et al.] have set the stage for the future.”
In the early 1990s, the United States was still pursuing space as a big part of the Nation’s future, which the work of the National Space Council attested to—and ANSER continued to support. The company’s pro bono work for the Council in 1991 afforded ANSER the opportunity to support the Vice President’s Space Policy Advisory Board, beginning in early 1992. At the same time, ANSER’s ongoing work in studying, among international others, the Soviet space program would soon lead to such widely recognized efforts as ANSER’s publication of a civil space capabilities reference book called the Decision Maker’s Guide to International Space.
For these and other over-the-horizon aims, ANSER’s leadership had seen in former U.S. astronaut John Fabian the new leadership that it would take to move ANSER further up and on. A KC-135 pilot who flew 90 combat missions in Vietnam, John earned a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics and taught at the Air Force Academy before moving into the U.S. astronaut program. He was a crew member aboard both the Challenger and Discovery space shuttle missions. Bringing those stellar experiences to ANSER in mid-1987, he became the vice president for space systems.
After becoming ANSER’s president in late 1991, Dr. Fabian wrote in the “From the President” column of the December 1991/January 1992 issue of Transmissions, “The future will be based on our corporate past. We are blessed with a reputation for corporate integrity, excellent and timely products, close interaction with our clients, and service in the national interest.” Noting the dramatically changing environment—both the national and the international—he wrote further that the process of reevaluating ANSER’s business practices, to adapt to that new environment, had already begun.
The rest would be up to the ANSER staff.