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General Dynamics CEO: walking softly

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in Leaders & Managers

Following two short-lived CEOs, Nicholas Chabraja found himself at the head of defense contractor General Dynamics in 1997 with plenty of cash but weak sales.

Chabraja changed that. He acquired 50 companies, including shipbuilders and information systems, and multiplied revenues 10 times over.

His signal qualities:

He knows what he wants,
says Joseph Kampf, who sold his IT firm, Anteon, to General Dynamics for $2.2 billion.

He does his homework,
Kampf adds, which helps explain his decisiveness. Others call Chabraja well prepared and precise.

He’s courteous and unassuming,
says Lester Crown, a board member for 32 years who finds the firm in its best shape ever. “A lot of CEOs are dominant: ‘I’m the boss, you listen to me.’ That’s not Nick in any way.”

— Adapted from “Virginia Business Person of the Year,” Robert Burke, Virginia Business

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