April 2, 2015—Susan B. Chodakewitz, an accomplished and dynamic leader in business and government services, will become the next chief executive officer of Nathan Associates Inc., guiding the premier economics consulting firm through a new phase of accelerating growth. She will succeed Lakhbir Singh, who plans to retire from full-time employment after almost 39 years with Nathan.
Chodakewitz joins Nathan from Tetra Tech Inc., an international environmental and technical services consulting company with $2.48 billion in 2014 revenue. She has been president of its aviation management and information technology subsidiary, Tetra Tech AMT, since November 2006. Chodakewitz is credited with more than doubling revenue at Tetra Tech AMT by building its human resources and market position. Tetra Tech AMT is perhaps best known for aiding the Federal Aviation Administration’s move to a satellite-based navigation system from one based on radar towers.
Previously she spent more than a decade at SAIC, a major defense and national security contractor, where she advanced to senior vice president, almost doubled revenue at SAIC’s business consulting program, and directed a unit that reached nearly $200 million in annual revenue.
Nathan Chairman John C. Beyer said the board picked Chodakewitz for her innumerable leadership skills, her stability—demonstrated by long tenure at three previous employers—and her detailed knowledge of the services industry. She knows how to build and work with teams across disciplines, develop future leaders, and both spot and cultivate business opportunities.
“Susan is a strong communicator who has the ability to listen before she makes decisions,” Beyer said. “On a strategic level, Susan is able to think about the future, create an action plan, and harness resources to make sure that action plan gets fulfilled. She is able to get things moving.”
Strikingly, Chodakewitz is neither an engineer nor an economist. She came to consulting as a Soviet specialist, having received her M.A. from Columbia University in Russian Studies in 1981. After stints at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Library of Congress, she began her consulting career with a move to Booz, Allen & Hamilton. There she did a significant amount of work for the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Her reputation for uniting people preceded moves that eventually landed her at SAIC.
“Nathan Associates provides an extraordinary opportunity to bring together outstanding, dedicated people from a variety of fields and align them with a vision and strategy for building on its considerable record of achievement,” Chodakewitz said. “I will bring to this job my passion for leading and creating success, both organizationally and personally. I intend to leverage my diverse background in consulting, international relations, and government contracting, and keep a close client focus.”
The transition, expected to occur April 27, begins a new era for Nathan Associates. Chodakewitz will be the first chief executive officer from outside the employee-owned firm, founded in 1946 by Robert R. Nathan, who provided economic leadership for the U.S. government through the Depression and World War II. Singh was appointed president and chief operating officer in 2008, 32 years after joining the firm as a research assistant, and took over as CEO from Beyer in 2013.
Even before becoming operations chief, Singh managed a major expansion, including growth and diversification of the litigation consulting practice. He played a leading role in integrating the London-based firm Emerging Markets Economics into Nathan Associates and establishing Nathan India in 2008. Above all, Singh is admired among clients and throughout the firm for his devotion to quality and integrity.
“Quality of the work was always my number one priority,” he said. “I’ve been stressing to every one of the people here: quality, quality, quality. Because once the quality is there and the value is there, there’s no question the client will call you back.”
Singh said he is excited about Nathan’s future under Chodakewitz and will always think of the company as family, a term he frequently uses.
Nathan, based in Arlington, Virginia, has 192 employees worldwide. That number includes a major U.S. office in Irvine, California, and subsidiaries Nathan London and Nathan India, which has offices in Chennai and Delhi. The firm provides consulting and economic analysis in support of litigation, international development and trade, project financing, ports and other infrastructure planning, and numerous industries including gaming and telecommunications. Clients include business, government, trade associations, and international lenders.