Academi (formerly Xe) | www.academi.com |
Published in the January/February 2012 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Academi is the new name of a company that has undergone a complete cultural shift – the company formerly known as Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA, and Blackwater Worldwide. Academi is a private firm that provides training and security services to U.S. government and commercial customers worldwide. The company changed its name on December 12, 2011.
Ted Wright, president and CEO of Academi, has more than 25 years’ experience in the government and defense business. Before joining Academi, he was president of KBR North American Government & Defense; and before that, president of BAE Systems, Technology Solutions and Services. Wright has held leadership positions in engineering, engineering management, strategy, business development and general management. He has been involved with operations and maintenance, readiness and sustainment, training and security, construction management, engineering services, and systems development and platform programs for satellite/spacecraft control; space launch, training, and test ranges; communications and information systems; missile warning/space surveillance sensor systems; and ground combat platforms. He has experience serving customers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, FAA, FBI, and NASA.
Wright served in the United States Air Force from 1979 to 2009 in both active duty and reserve roles. He retired as a colonel and was brought on board at Academi to rebrand the company. “It is a new company with a different focus and a different strategy,” Wright said. “I’m new. We have new owners and a new board of directors. We even moved the corporate headquarters to Washington, D.C.”
The company changed the name because of a desire to shed its former mysterious image. “We wanted to be more open,” Wright said. “A known commodity rather than an unknown. We’ve always been the best at what we do, but now we want everyone to know we hold ourselves accountable.”
In addition to the name change, Wright has led other fundamental changes: He hired a new governance chief to oversee ethical and legal compliance; and he established the new board, composed of former government officials, including Jack Quinn, who was a White House Counsel in the Clinton administration, and John Ashcroft, who was attorney general of the United States in the George W. Bush administration.
Academi seeks to be a top selection for government defense contracts, and it maintains the U.S. Training Center, which provides advanced training courses for a wide range of missions, terrain, and tactical situations.
“We are looking to fill a lot of positions, here in the United States and internationally,” Wright said. “At any given time, ten percent of our 1,500 workforce is open. Those jobs run from range-control experts to being a director of contracts. We have jobs in all areas, and find that veterans make the best fit.” Wright said that’s because veterans already speak language of much of Academi’s clientele and have a great work ethic. They can also be trusted and can get a security clearance if they don’t already have one.
The company also has a lot of openings for contractors willing to go overseas to work on Academi contracts for 100 days before returning home for 35. These positions are harder to fill because they take the right person with the right skill set. There are also openings for hard-to-fill positions such as personal security specialists, emergency medical technicians, and physician’s assistants.
“These are very lucrative jobs that can go for the entire length of the five-year contracts,” Wright said. “We’re looking for independent thinkers who know the value of discipline and teamwork. They have to be positive about their mission and focused. The good news is that they will find the same style of leadership as the military and get to work with the same quality of people as they did in the military. For a lot of servicemembers, it’s what they feel good about; it’s what they signed up to do.”
Wright believes that finding that niche is one of the most important things a job seeker must do when leaving the military. “Long before you get out, servicemembers have to be thinking about what they want to do,” he said. “They should take a look at their skill set and determine what they can bring to a company. What is that specific value to the company?”