Former Sotera CEO and assistant secretary of state John Hillen joins LLR Partners

John Hillen
John Hillen

Private equity firm LLR Partners announced on January 8 the addition of former Assistant Secretary of State, Dr. John Hillen, as an operating partner.

Hillen was most recently president and CEO of Sotera Defense Solutions, formerly Global Defense Technology & Systems. Hillen led the company’s diversification and acquisition strategy, followed by its high-profile IPO in 2009, and ultimately took the company private in 2012.

Sotera was named Contractor of the Year (>$300m) at the 2012 GovCon Awards. Hillen also served as 2012-2013 Chairman of the Professional Services Council, the government contracting industry’s largest trade organization.

In his role at LLR, Hillen will help evaluate new investment opportunities in the Security, Defense and Government Services sectors, as well as support the leadership and strategy development of LLR’s existing portfolio companies.

“John is a thought leader within the government contracting industry and a deeply experienced executive. He has executed the same growth strategies and led businesses through the same challenges that our companies face today,” said Dave Stienes, partner at LLR. “John built a sub-$100M business into a $300M business, while dramatically diversifying the company and placing it in areas of importance within its government client community. The depth of his operational and industry experience will make John an invaluable advisor, board member and mentor to our portfolio company CEOs.”

From 2005 to 2007, Hillen served as Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, responsible for coordinating America’s diplomatic strategy with its military operations. He also oversaw the State Department’s policies for international security, security assistance, military operations, weapons removal and abatement and defense trade.

Hillen’s work standing up the United States’ whole-of-government counterinsurgency capability and strategy is profiled in Wall Street Journal reporter Nathan Hodge’s recent book, Armed Humanitarians.

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with LLR and help more government contractors grow by drawing from my own lessons learned as a CEO and federal official,” said Hillen. “There are few private equity firms as knowledgeable about this sector and as committed to putting capital towards its growth. Teaming up with LLR makes the most of my experiences and industry network.”

Prior to his appointment, Hillen served as the President of CGI Federal, the cleared American subsidiary of Canadian IT firm CGI. Previously he was the head of the $415 million defense and intelligence business at American Management Systems, which was sold to CACI International in 2004.

Prior to his business career, Hillen worked as a military policy expert and served for 12 years as an Army officer. He is the author or editor of several books on international security and has been published in dozens of leading journals and newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. A veteran of several think tanks, including the Council on Foreign Relations, he was for many years a contributing editor at National Review and an ABC News commentator. He currently serves on the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel, the federal advisory committee supporting the head of the U.S. Navy.

Hillen graduated from Duke University, holds a master’s degree from King’s College London, a doctorate from Oxford and received his MBA from the Johnson School of Management at Cornell.