Marillyn A. Hewson, 2018 CEO of The Year, Steps Aside at Lockheed Martin

Hewson, the 2018 Chief Executive of the Year, led Lockheed and its 100,000 employees through the most spectacular period of growth in the company’s history.

Marillyn Hewson at the 2018 CEO of the Year Event, at the United Nations in New York City. Photo credit: Ben Hider
Marillyn Hewson at the 2018 CEO of the Year Event, at the United Nations in New York City. Photo credit: Ben Hider

Defense giant Lockheed Martin announced this morning that Marillyn A. Hewson, its longtime CEO, would turn over the top job to board member and American Tower CEO James Taiclet and become executive chairman of the board, effective June 15.

Hewson, who took the reins in 2014, led Lockheed and its 100,000 employees through the most spectacular period of growth in the company’s history, including the successful rollout of the F-35, the largest-ever U.S. defense program.

In 2018 she was named our Chief Executive of the Year by a committee of her peers. Read complete interview.

The selection committee cited her performance leading the company through an era of profound political and technological change—which has had an outsized impact on Lockheed’s operations. They also highlighted her work to improve STEM education, grow the nation’s pipeline of highly skilled labor and improve diversity in the technology industry.

“Marillyn has demonstrated exceptional leadership, proving to be an exceptional role model and exceptional person—something we need in business, especially today,” Mark Weinberger, then-CEO of EY and a member of the selection committee, said at the time.

Tamara Lundgren, CEO, Schnitzer Steel, added: “Marillyn has led her company with tremendous vision and integrity, and the results have shown through both financial and operation performance as well as the diversity and loyalty of the people she leads.”

The daughter of a struggling single mother of five (her father died of a heart attack when she was 9), Hewson grew up in Alabama and earned her bachelor’s and master’s (in economics) at the University of Alabama. After school, she worked as an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics before joining Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, plant as an industrial engineer in 1983. She was usually the only woman in the room at meetings. Over the next three decades, she worked her way up through the company and held leadership positions in four of the company’s five divisions.

“I know it is the right time to transition the leadership of Lockheed Martin,” Hewson said in a statement issued by the company today. “The corporation is strong, as evidenced by our outstanding financial results last year and a record backlog of business. We have a bright future – particularly with Jim and our outstanding leadership team at the helm. I’m pleased the board agreed with my recommendation. As Lockheed Martin’s next CEO, Jim will lead the company forward in its next phase of growth and value creation.”

Taiclet is no stranger to the aerospace and defense industry. Prior to American Tower, which he joined in 2001, he served as president of Honeywell Aerospace Services and VP of engine services at Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies. He also worked as a McKinsey consultant specializing in telecommunications and aerospace. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and served as pilot in the U.S. Air Force, including a tour of duty during the Gulf War.

“I’m honored to be asked to succeed one of the most respected CEOs in America. While serving on Lockheed Martin’s board, I’ve not only been impressed by the company’s continued growth as a leader in aerospace & defense but also by the dedication and commitment of Marillyn and Lockheed Martin employees to deliver for its customers,” Taiclet said in a company statement. “As a military veteran, I understand the mission of this great company to provide global security and innovative solutions for the brave men and women who protect our freedom.”

Dan Bigman
Dan Bigman is Editor and Chief Content Officer of Chief Executive Group, publishers of Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, ChiefExecutive.net, Boardmember.com and StrategicCFO360. Previously he was Managing Editor at Forbes and the founding business editor of NYTimes.com.