Paul Robinson leaving Sandia after 10 years as President; Tom Hunter named successor
It is a momentous change at the top that reverberates throughout Sandia and the entire DOE laboratory complex. Paul Robinson is leaving and Tom Hunter is succeeding him.
The announcement, a subject of internal rumors for some days, came Monday morning: The Sandia Corporation Board of Directors has named Tom Hunter President of Sandia Corporation and Director of Sandia National Laboratories, effective April 29. He will be Sandia’s 12th president.
Tom is Sandia’s senior vice president for Defense Programs, with oversight of the Labs’ nuclear weapons programs. He’s the only person holding the senior VP rank.
He will succeed Paul, who came to Sandia in 1990 and has served as President and Labs Director since August 1995, ushering in a decade of relative stability and growth after the turbulent period of the early 1990s.
Paul will leave Sandia April 29 to assist Lockheed Martin Corporation in preparing its bid to DOE for the management and operating contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory. Paul said Monday the bid will list him as the LANL director and he will serve as director if Lockheed Martin wins the bid.
Lockheed Martin announced its intention to make that bid just two weeks ago (Lab News, April 1). The current M&O contract for LANL, now held by the University of California, expires at the end of September.
More changes expected later
Tom said Executive VP Joan Woodard will take over Tom’s duties as head of Sandia’s Nuclear Weapons Program. She will also remain Executive VP and Deputy Director during the transition.
Additional management changes are expected later.
“We are thrilled Tom Hunter has agreed to accept the position of director of Sandia National Laboratories,” said Mike Camardo, Sandia Corporation Board Chairman and executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Information and Technology Services. “Tom is a man of great intelligence and extremely high integrity. He has a deep and thorough understanding of the national security needs of the nation, the complex missions of the laboratory, and he cares about the people who work at Sandia.”
Camardo praised Paul for demonstrating great vision during his 10-year tenure as Sandia’s director. “Paul kept Sandia on a steady course toward excellence, ethical behavior, and a better quality of life for its employees and the local community. Sandia consistently received high ratings from our customer, the Department of Energy. This record reflects well upon Paul and the leadership team he put together to manage Sandia,” he said.
DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman had praise for Paul. “While director of Sandia, Paul has overseen important contributions to our national security and defense. He has provided strong stewardship of the nuclear weapons complex and has helped Sandia build its technology base to respond to emerging threats. Paul has a strong science and management background that has served this country well and I thank him for his service.”
NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks likewise had kind words: “Paul has helped Sandia become one of America’s premier laboratories as the lab has been instrumental in NNSA’s efforts to maintain a nuclear weapons stockpile that is safe, secure, and reliable. His leadership and vision will be missed.”
Tom, whose PhD is in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin, has held a variety of positions since coming to Sandia in 1967 (see story on next page). In his most recent post, he has led Sandia’s Defense Programs, which encompasses about 60 percent of the Labs’ $2.2 billion annual budget. From October 1995 to March 1999, he served as vice president of Sandia’s California site and leader of Sandia’s nonproliferation programs.
Tom said the core mission of Sandia will continue to focus on maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. As a premier national security laboratory, it also will continue to develop technology solutions for the challenging problems that threaten peace and freedom at home and abroad.
Tom said his vision for the laboratory is based on the principles that national security is Sandia’s first and primary business, that Sandia’s employees are its most important asset, and that Sandia will always be a good corporate citizen in that it values strong, positive relationships with its communities and partners.
A unique heritage and capabilities
“Sandia has a unique heritage and capabilities, from advanced failsafe technologies, processes, and systems to ensure the safety and security of our nuclear arsenal, to our growing efforts in microsystems, simulation and modeling, homeland security technologies, materials development, energy, and water,” he said. “I have great confidence that, with the continued support of our outstanding employees, Sandia will continue to be a laboratory that provides exceptional service in the national interest.”
During an early morning meeting on Monday with Large Staff (VPs and Directors), Tom talked about what he calls “our quest for operational excellence in all the Labs does,” adding, “We have some serious challenges to deal with, particularly with employee safety.” At the same time, he said, the Labs has made notable strides in areas such as security.
“Our actions over the next several weeks,” he added, “will be fairly deliberate with some short-term and long-term goals.” Some of those short-term goals, he explained, will be defining some principles about organizational structure. “Based on those principles we’ll name a set of roles and functions for the Labs and a set of individuals to carry them out.”
New Mexico’s two US senators issued statements Monday on the management changes at Sandia.
“I believe Paul Robinson’s decision is significant because of the expertise he will bring to the Lockheed Martin bid,” Sen. Pete Domenici said. “Paul has worked at Los Alamos, and he has been a terrific director at Sandia. I’m sad he’s leaving Sandia, but his departure and new role certainly tells me that Lockheed Martin is intent on putting together a competitive bid. I think he will play a formidable role, and I think he helps the Lockheed Martin proposal immensely.
“The bidding for the Los Alamos contract will be competitive. My ultimate interest is in having the new contract end up being the best for the lab workers, pensioners, and, of course, the lab in its totality. I think the University of California and Lockheed Martin, and possibly other interested parties, are working toward this goal.
“I look forward to working with Tom Hunter as the new director at Sandia. This is a superb choice, and I think his experience in heading the weapons program at Sandia puts him in a good position to do well as director.”
Sen. Jeff Bingaman acknowledged the outstanding work that Paul Robinson has done at Sandia, and he expressed confidence in Paul’s successor, Tom Hunter.
“Paul Robinson has been a dynamic and highly effective director of Sandia National Laboratories,” Bingaman said. “Given his depth of experience at Sandia and Los Alamos, it comes as no surprise that Lockheed Martin would tap him to prepare its proposal for the management of the LANL contract. We are fortunate that a strong and capable team, led by Tom Hunter, will be in place to manage Sandia as Paul takes on his new assignment.”