AIB Featured Business Leader Marillyn Hewson
Born in Kansas in 1954, Marillyn Hewson has worked her way to the top of America’s biggest defence organisation, Lockheed Martin. With a Bachelor of Business Administration, Masters of Arts (Economics), and study in numerous executive development programmes, it’s safe to say that she has a strong educational background. Hewson commenced her career at Lockheed Martin in 1983, and has since held a variety of increasingly responsible positions throughout the organisation. Previous positions include leadership roles in the Electronic Systems business area, operational leadership positions in Systems Integration, Aeronautics, Aviation Centers and Logistics Services. She also served in key corporate executive roles, before becoming the first woman to head up the company as Chairman, CEO and President of Lockheed Martin in 2013.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Lockheed Martin, the organisation’s tagline is “We’re engineering a better tomorrow”. With a firm focus on the future, Lockheed Martin works across the areas of Aerospace and Defence, Information Technology, Space and Emerging Technologies. Their site also states “We create the innovative technologies that define eras. While no one knows what’s going to change the world next, we’re probably already working on it.” Innovation is essential to the success of Lockheed Martin, therefore it is no surprise that it is the number one word which comes up when Hewson discusses the strategy of the organisation. As she put it to Forbes, “innovation is the theme across our company”.
In addition to a very innovative culture, Hewson has described her management approach as “opportunistic”. Her strategy changes very little, however her tactics and timing are dictated by the conditions in the market at that particular time. Sustaining strong profits and shareholder returns are key to the strategy, and during her tenure at the top Hewson has doubled the stock price to its highest level yet. Forbes also explained that Hewson knows that Lockheed Martin’s continuous success depends on “keeping shareholders rewarded, customers satisfied, employees engaged and competitors at bay”. She and her team also recognise that employee retention is critical to this sustained performance.
Aside from Lockheed Martin, Hewson serves on the Board of Directors at DuPont, and is the Vice Chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association. She was also appointed by President Barak Obama to the President’s Export Council – the principal national advisory committee on international trade in the United States. Among other industry and educational board roles, Hewson has been named as one of Fortune Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” for the past five years, and #20 on the Forbes “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list in 2015.
What do you think?
It is clear that Marillyn Hewson is a great example of someone who has used her educational background to work her way to the top. She has achieved remarkable things at Lockheed Martin, and I have no doubt there are more excellent results to come over the next couple of years. I am interested to hear what you think though – what do you admire most about Hewson’s career? Leave a comment below if you’d like to see any other business leaders profiled – I’m always looking for new ideas.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Fortune; Lockheed Martin; Wikipedia; Forbes.
Image Credit: Fortune