In 1983, when you were a twenty-something engineer starting out at Lockheed Corp. in Marietta, Ga., could you have imagined a woman running a leading defense company and that you would be one of two—along with Phebe Novakovic at General Dynamics—to shatter that glass ceiling?
When I came to Lockheed as a senior industrial engineer I wasn't really thinking about that. I was excited to join that company. I grew up in a family of patriots—during World War II my dad worked for the Department of the Army and my mother was a nurse in the Women's Army Corps. My brother went off to serve during the Vietnam War. So I kind of had a sense of patriotism around Lockheed. When I went to interview there and saw all those aircraft down at the production line—they had C-130s and C-141s and had just won the contract for the C-5B—my mindset was not about whether a woman would be running a defense company. They had a value system and innovation and excitement. I was just in awe.
There is a perception that the A&D industry should be making a more concerted effort to reach out to women. Do you agree?
Three of our four business areas are run by women and 25 percent of our workforce is women. You're right, 30 years ago there weren't as many. Now you're seeing it in the armed services and in defense companies. Professionals are getting experience, performing, moving up and competing for jobs. I competed for my job, as did my other colleagues. It's not about gender. That's how I view it. I went into leadership very early in my career—I was a supervisor 18 months into the job.
How are you going to be different from Bob Stevens and make your mark on the company?
We operate as a leadership team at Lockheed Martin. It's not about Bob and the rest of us just sort of following behind. He's a very inclusive leader, and we all work together on our strategy and focus. I think what will be different is the environment [in the industry]. I will, with my team, focus on how we continue to grow the enterprise and what it means in the changing environment we're in. What areas do I need to put more emphasis on? What areas do I need to retreat from?
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced in your 30 years with the company?
On my first management job I had to lay off 25 percent of my staff in industrial engineering because a program came to an end. And I remember how gut-wrenching it was for me to sit across a table from those individuals and tell them they didn't have a job, not because they weren't performing but because of business conditions. That taught me early on how important it is to be looking beyond a day and constantly focusing on growth. Recognize that you have to do the contingency planning and keep a bead on what's going on in the environment so that when you have to let somebody go on one program, you hope to win another and bring them back. I was running a [unit] where the flagship program—the Presidential helicopter—got canceled. And I had to take out 1,000 jobs. That element of our business is growing again. We build the MH-60 Romeo helicopter out of that site in Owego (N.Y.) and we're delivering 33 this year.
Can you foresee Lockheed Martin at least maintaining its current level of R&D investment, as opposed to drawing it down?