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Leaders in Defence: Marillyn Hewson, a former CEO of Lockheed Martin

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

Marillyn Hewson is a highly regarded business leader who served as the CEO of Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest aerospace and defence companies. Hewson assumed the role of CEO in 2013 and served in this capacity until 2021. During her tenure as CEO, Hewson played a key role in transforming Lockheed Martin into a leading technology-driven company. Under her leadership, the company's focus shifted from solely producing weapons and military hardware to incorporating advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and cybersecurity into its offerings. This shift resulted in significant growth for the company, with revenue increasing from $47.2 billion in 2013 to $59.8 billion in 2020.

Hewson is also known for her commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Under her leadership, Lockheed Martin launched several initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, including the creation of a women's leadership program, which provided mentorship and networking opportunities to female employees. Additionally, Hewson was a strong advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and worked to increase the company's involvement in programs aimed at encouraging young people to pursue careers in these fields. For example, the company launched a "Lockheed Martin STEM Scholars" program that provides scholarships and internships to high school students who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM. These efforts not only helped to improve the company's reputation but also had a positive impact on the communities it serves.

Hewson's contributions to the aerospace and defence industry have been recognised by several organisations. She was named one of Fortune's "Most Powerful Women" for several consecutive years and was also honoured as one of the "Top 25 Women in Aerospace and Defence" by the Women in Aerospace organisation. In addition, Hewson was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Awardby the National Aeronautic Association for her contributions to the aerospace industry.

During her time as CEO, Hewson established a strong strategic vision for the company that emphasised the importance of innovation and international expansion. She oversaw the acquisition of several companies that enhanced Lockheed Martin's capabilities in key areas such as space and cyber security. In addition, Hewson played a crucial role in expanding the company's presence in international markets, resulting in a significant increase in international sales. These efforts not only helped to secure the company's future but also positioned it as a leader in the global aerospace and defence market.

Hewson took an active role in promoting sustainable business practices and was recognised for her efforts to reduce the company's carbon footprint. Under her leadership, Lockheed Martin implemented several initiatives aimed at reducing its energy consumption and emissions, and the company was named to the CDP's “Global Climate A List” in recognition of its commitment to sustainability.

As a widely recognised influential and effective leader in the aerospace and defence industry, some key factors that set her apart include:

Strategic Vision: Marillyn Hewson was known for having a clear and ambitious vision for the future of Lockheed Martin, and for consistently driving the company toward that vision. She emphasised innovation and modernisation, positioning the company to take advantage of new technologies and markets.

Operational Excellence: Hewson had a strong background in operations, and she brought that expertise to her role as CEO. She was known for her focus on efficiency, cost control, and delivering results, which helped to improve the financial performance of the company.

Employee Engagement: Hewson placed a strong emphasis on employee engagement and empowerment and was known for her ability to inspire and motivate her teams. She created a culture of transparency and collaboration and was highly accessible to employees at all levels of the organisation.

Collaborative Approach: Hewson was known for her ability to build strong relationships with key stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and government partners. She was able to effectively negotiate complex deals and bring diverse groups together to achieve common goals.

Adaptability: Marillyn Hewson was known for her ability to adapt and respond to changing conditions, whether it was navigating geopolitical risks or navigating technological disruptions. She was able to remain nimble and flexible and was able to quickly pivot the company as needed to stay ahead of the curve.

Hewson's leadership style and skills demonstrate the importance of having a clear vision, a focus on results, and a commitment to engaging and empowering employees. Her ability to build strong relationships with stakeholders and navigate complex challenges highlights the importance of collaboration and adaptability in leadership.

These qualities serve as a valuable lesson for current and future leaders in the defence industry and demonstrate the impact that visionary and effective leadership can have on a company and its employees. Marillyn Hewson's legacy as a leader in the defence industry will continue to inspire future generations and serve as a benchmark for excellence in leadership.

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