Catalyst for Change

LGS Innovations’ new general counsel has a strong influence on business process revamping as the former subsidiary stands on its own

Douglas Manya joined LGS Innovations during a time of sweeping structural change. The company, which traces back to the famed communications technology innovator Bell Laboratories, was spun off from Alcatel-Lucent in 2014. When Manya came aboard in early 2016 as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary, the company was in the midst of the transition from a wholly owned subsidiary to an independent enterprise.

Manya’s prior experience as vice president, deputy general counsel, and secretary of consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton serves as an important reservoir that he taps for LGS’s benefit.

“My tenure at Booz Allen coincided with a major evolution of the firm, particularly with respect to its ethics, compliance, and governance processes,” Manya says. “As LGS continues its dramatic growth, I am able to draw upon the many lessons I learned.”

As LGS enhances its own business processes, the legal team plays an important role in optimizing the performance of these functions, and Manya’s unique skill set and experience provides the company with a tremendous asset. Given the company’s seventy-five-year history and well established culture and mind-set, Manya is working to drive change while respecting the institutional mores and processes set down over the decades.

A couple of areas drawing his attention are contracting processes and ethics and compliance training. As a contractor to the federal government, ethics and compliance are key issues for LGS. Failure to comply with government rules and regulations can get a company banned from bidding on new contracts. On the other hand, a history of good corporate citizenry—and the policies, processes, and training to promote it—is a plus.

“Our reputation with our customers is enhanced if we are viewed as an ethical actor, in addition to being a thought leader in advanced communications technologies,” Manya says. “We are known as a company that doesn’t cut corners.”

To preserve this good standing, Manya, whose role includes chief ethics and compliance officer, is revamping the way the company trains and communicates with its employees about ethics and compliance. Sensitivity to compliance, he notes, needs to permeate the company—not just the legal department.

“If people view ethics and compliance only as things lawyers do, it’s not going to work,” he says. “We need to have all employees think, ‘We own this.’”

Although ethics and compliance training programs have been developed internally through a labor-intensive process, LGS’s business is growing so quickly that keeping pace with training needs can pose a challenge. As a result, Manya says he’s investigating the use of external providers that specialize in compliance training to gain scale and a more comprehensive variety of subject matter to match the company’s current and future needs. He encourages his staff to assume more responsibility and not be hesitant to seize the initiative.

“With growth, there are more opportunities for people to take on leadership roles,” he says.

In order to promote these leadership opportunities for attorneys and contracts professionals, Manya hosts a monthly, informal teleconference on new issues involving contracts. During these virtual meetings, a staff member presents a “not-too-technical short burst” on new contract issues and other related matters. This helps elevate understanding of what’s new regarding contracts and resulting business impacts throughout the team. What’s more, staffers have a chance to showcase their knowledge, sharpen presentation skills, and demonstrate leadership potential.

Manya also encourages staff to identify challenges that might not be under any individual’s purview and highlight them to him or the group as a whole.

“If a problem is not in any single person’s lane, we have to address it as a group,” Manya says. Otherwise, some issues can get lost in the scramble to keep up with a growing company’s needs.

The rich history of LGS holds data that can benefit today’s operations. For example, a single repository of documents can enable multiple departments. “One of my nascent strategic goals is to ensure we have ready, efficient access to the company’s current and historic records, especially contract documents,” Manya says. To be most useful, though, the data must be made available in an easily searchable digital format. Manya worked with his director of contracts to form a team focused on improving accessibility to these records.

As the company’s support processes continue to evolve, it’s more important than ever for legal to understand many aspects of the business—financial drivers, customer profiles and buying patterns, and key stakeholders.

“These are essential to the provision of effective legal advice,” Manya says.

Attorneys work closely with engineers and program managers throughout the R&D and contracting processes, an arrangement that stimulates the acquisition of more business knowledge by all of the attorneys.

“As counselors, we cannot only get the call when the wheels come off the wagon,” Manya says. “We must be there for the takeoff as well as the landing.”