Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson: 2018 CEO Of The Year

Marillyn Hewson
Passionate, poised and relentlessly methodical, Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson has proved to be the right leader for risky times. And now she’s Chief Executive’s 2018 CEO of the Year.

Socially inept.

Exactly. Is that what they want to be? Is that what that young woman wants to be? Or does she want to be “the beautiful investigator?” We have got to get even the entertainment industry involved in this. Because frankly, what are the signals that we’re giving to our young people in this country? I think it needs to be government; it needs to be industry, all sectors of industry; it needs to be nonprofits, all working together on this very important problem.

To that end, do you feel like a role model? You’re one of seven women currently running a Fortune 100 company.

As I look at why we are where we are right now, I think it’s around the pipeline issue. I mean it takes time to get the experience I’ve gained, to get to the role I’m in. We need to accelerate it. It will accelerate in the coming years. In our company, about 22 percent of our leaders are women. That was not the case when I started over 30 years ago. We just didn’t have a lot of women in leadership. I was probably the only one in the manufacturing environment when I came up through the ranks so many years ago, often the only woman at the table.

What we have to do is keep driving that in a really deliberate fashion, to get more women in the pipeline, starting with what we were just talking about. In the STEM fields, to get them the education to come into the workplace—and then opening up the door for them. Women can compete. As I came into the workplace, I might have been among the few women, but I was in the door, I performed. It’s about performance and getting experience and building your experience.

Do I think it’s important to be a role model? I absolutely do. When I first got in my job, I always dreaded that was going be the question in every interview. “OK, you’re the first woman CEO of Lockheed Martin. What is that like?” And I admittedly dreaded that question because I thought, you know, I just want to be recognized as a leader of Lockheed Martin, not a woman leader of Lockheed Martin.

Over the past five to six years, I’ve realized that it is important for me to acknowledge the fact that as a woman leader, I am a role model for other women to achieve that level. But I just wanted it to be recognized that it wasn’t because of gender that I got here, it was because of the opportunities I had, because of the experience I gained, because of the performance results I had that I achieved this level. I have had that discussion with people like Phebe Novakovic [of General Dynamics], Mary Barra [of General Motors] and others who are my female peers as CEOs, and they have all had the same experience.

One final question. You look at Elon Musk and SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin—can Silicon Valley disrupt your industry?

Frankly, I think that’s a good thing for the energy and the excitement and the innovation that they’ve brought into the market. You should always be open to competition. The thing that an entrepreneur like Elon Musk did, as he moved into the industry, was raise a lot of excitement around space.

I think we’re going to disrupt ourselves, and we’re going to continue to invest in the space business and be the best we can be in that. And compete right alongside anybody that wants to compete.


Chief Executive of the Year 2018 Selection Committee: Thomas J. Quinlan III, Chairman, President and CEO of LSC Communications; Dan Glaser, President and CEO, Marsh & McLennan; Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, President and CEO, the Chief Executive Leadership Institute, Yale School of Management; Tamara Lundgren, President and CEO, Schnitzer
Steel Industries; Fred Hassan, Chairman, Zx Pharma and Partner/Managing Director, Healthcare, Warburg Pincus; Mark Weinberger, Chairman and CEO, EY; Robert Nardelli, CEO, XLR-8;  JP Donlan, Editor Emeritus, Chief Executive (non-voting); Exclusive Adviser to the Selection Committee Ted Bililies, Ph.D., Chief Talent Officer, Managing Director, AlixPartners (non-voting); Stan Bergman, Chairman and CEO, Henry Schein and 2017 CEO of the Year; Dan Bigman, Editor, Chief Executive (non-voting). 

Related: Marillyn Hewson: Made For Her Role At Lockheed Martin


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