Jo Cangianelli - Profile Article Image

Joanna Cangianelli doesn’t know how to stand still. When the vice presidentof business development for BAE Systems’ Intelligence & Security sector isn’t busy chasing new business opportunities, she’s running to the gym.

“I teach kickboxing, I teach spin, I teach step aerobics, and I teach Pilates,” said Cangianelli. “I teach three classes on Saturday and three more on Sunday. I love it. I’ve been doing it for 12 years. I’m a workout fanatic.”

It’s this same tireless energy that is driving the 17-year defense contracting veteran to strategically expand the I&S sector’s current footprint on both the U.S. and international fronts.

“It’s a changing market, and we will determine our future,” said Cangianelli. “We’re transforming our approach to business development, exploring new opportunities and expanding our thinking.”

As a leader, Cangianelli’s determined approach is inspiring her team to think outside of the box and push new boundaries to enhance the sector’s standing for key pursuits.

“Innovation doesn’t always have to be revolutionary,” said Cangianelli. “Today, many customers are looking for evolutionary solutions to streamline existing processes and reduce their current operations costs.”

Cangianelli’s career path is itself an interesting evolutionary tale. Growing up with a father in the U.S. Navy, Cangianelli travelled the world, from England to Bahrain to just about every major port you can think of across the United States. Her family eventually settled in the Washington, DC area and Cangianelli graduated from the University of Virginia, where she explored many interests -- from artificial intelligence, to systems development, to engineering to system architecture. After working in multiple IT positions, Cangianelli decided to tackle business development as a capture manager with a defense contractor.

“I lost a lot of bids in my first five years, but I gained valuable experience and learned a lot of lessons,” said Cangianelli. “In captures, it’s easy to forget how you won something, but you never forget when you lose.”

Some of the most significant lessons she learned along the way include the value of hard work and perseverance. Cangianelli also strives to avoid saying ‘no,’ and says she rarely accepts ‘no’ as a final answer.

“Hearing ‘no’ just makes me want to work even harder to find a way to make the impossible, possible,” said Cangianelli.

That’s exactly what happened when Cangianelli targeted a bid belonging to a 15-year incumbent and top business competitor. On paper, the bid seemed hopeless. Her team was virtually unknown to the customer; she had no past performance; and she had no technical expert or magic solution. To make matters worse, she had just 90 days to overcome the odds. Undeterred, Cangianelli worked closely with the customer for two years to re-shape and delay the RFP until her team sealed the deal – inking a $4 billion business game-changer.

“In order to win big, sometimes you have to take big chances,” said Cangianelli. “We work in a business where 80% of growth campaigns can fail, but the good news is 20% still succeed, and we need that growth to survive.”

Ultimately, Cangianelli realizes actions speak louder than words. That’s why she has told her team from day one that she isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and go back to her roots in business capture to help them win.

“I want to get in the pit, get in the trenches, and help you win,” said Cangianelli. “I tell my team not to produce a bunch of charts for me. I don’t want to see them. We’re here to win business – everything else is secondary.” 

This aggressive, no-nonsense approach is fostering a resilient culture focused on business winning. Her approach is positioning I&S out ahead of the competition – now it’s on the rest of the sector to try and keep up.

Cangianelli joined BAE Systems’ I&S sector in September 2013. I&S delivers a broad range of services including systems development, IT, cybersecurity and intelligence analysis to enable the U.S. military and government to recognize, manage and defeat threats to protect our nation and those who serve.

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Brandee Beiriger
Senior Communications Manager

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