Serco names new leader for U.S. business

Tom Watson will become the new CEO of Serco Inc. on Sept. 1.

Tom Watson will become the new CEO of Serco Inc. on Sept. 1. Courtesy of Serco

Dave Dacquino announces his retirement with defense business leader Tom Watson set to take over as CEO of Serco Inc.

Dave Dacquino’s five-year run as the CEO of Serco Inc., the North American arm of the British government services company, is coming to a close. The company announced his retirement Tuesday, effective Sept. 1.

Lined up to succeed Dacquino is Tom Watson, who is being promoted from his post as senior vice president of the defense business.

Dacquino took the reins of CEO in June 2017 after serving as a senior vice president for two years. Prior to Serco, he was president and CEO of SkyLink and worked at Raytheon. He also had a 20-year career at Lockheed Martin.

Though he is giving up the CEO position, Dacquino will remain as chair of the company’s board of directors in North America.

During his run as CEO, he led the company through a growth strategy that included the acquisition of Alion Science and Technology’s marine engineering and sustainment business.

That $336 million transaction “vaulted” the company to a different level, he said a year after the deal closed.

Another part of his strategy was to pursue larger contracts, which included walking away from low-priced work that dominated the market when he first became CEO.

Dacquino also led a second acquisition in 2021 to buy Whitney, Bradley & Brown for $295 million, which added more Army, Air Force and Space Force customers.

Both the Alion and WBB acquisitions added capabilities that let Serco focus on upfront design work for weapons systems and platforms as well as long-term sustainment, Dacquino said at the time.

In his position as senior vice president of defense, Watson led the integration of WBB and Alion, as well as the push to combine those capabilities in pursuit of new opportunities.

Shortly after the WBB acquisition closed, he said the team had already identified $500 million in new contracts.

Watson joined Serco in 2018 after serving as senior vice president and general manager of the Navy and Marine Corps business at Science Applications International Corp.

Prior to SAIC, he worked at RCI, which coincidently was acquired to Serco in 2004. He also served in the Navy as an electronics technician for six years.

Serco Group PLC's chief executive Rupert Soames said Watson was picked after an internal and external search for Dacquino’s replacement.

“Tom has done a tremendous job leading our North America Defense business, and has demonstrated real commitment to Serco’s mission, customers, and colleagues,” Soames said.

Under Dacquino’s leadership, the North American business had a 15 percent compound annual growth rate.

“I am grateful to have spent more than seven years with Serco, and I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to lead this team for the last five,” Dacquino said.