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Raytheon President Speaks of Innovation

By Steve Hoberman

Daniel Burnham, the president and CEO of Raytheon Company, spoke yesterday at the Industry Leaders in Technology and Management Lecture Series.

Burnham’s talk, entitled “Achieving Prosperity through Technology, Growth, Productivity and Culture Change,” focused on the importance of creating a productive and innovative corporate culture.

“I came here today to talk to technologists about culture,” said Burnham. He explained that the culture of an organization is crucial to its success. “Business culture is not an oxymoron,” he said. “Business reflects the deepest biological and cultural impulses of life.”

Culture is especially important at a giant like Raytheon, where many employees have worked for other companies. “Cultural component is vitally important, especially when building teams of people from different organizations.”

Burnham also emphasized the importance of open mindedness. “The first rule is to focus on the customer,” he said. Burnham admitted that this advice seems obvious, but warned that “You can very quickly get delinked from the external world” after working for years within a corporation. “Lead the technology, not the other way around,” he said.

Raytheon linked to MIT

Burnham mentioned Raytheon’s “strong historicities” to the Institute. The late Vannevar Bush ’16 was one of Raytheon’s founders, and it was Raytheon that built and sold MIT’s radar innovations to the British and American governments. “Let me officially thank MIT for that,” said Burnham.

Burnham also emphasized his company’s reliance on new blood. “We want the best and the brightest forcing us to push our limits,” he said. “One day some of you may find yourselves on the cover of Fortune 500. ‘Technology Magician:How Does She Do It?’ ”

Raytheon, which is based out of Lexington, Masachusetts, is a global high technology company with 100,000 employees and serves customers in over 80 countries. Historically a major defense contractor, Raytheon has branched out since the end of the Cold War so that one third of its business is comercial.

Burnham is a recent addition to Raytheon’s Board of Directors, having arrived as the chief operating officer in 1998. Before this, he was vice president and president of different branches of AlliedSignal, another electronics defense company. Prior to joining AlliedSignal, Burham held positions of increasing responsibility at The Carborundum Company from 1971 to 1982.