As previously signalled, Bethesda Maryland based Lockheed Martin Corporation announced yesterday that its highly respected CEO, Marillyn Hewson has now formally transitioned to the role of executive chairman and that Gulf War veteran and former USAF pilot, James D. Taiclet has assumed the role of president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Having been on the board of Lockheed Martin for several years James Taiclet knows the company well and takes control at a very interesting time in the company’s long and illustrious history.
Marillyn Hewson’s departure from the CEO role yesterday was understandably a day of mixed emotions for Lockheed Martin’s 110,000 global employees, around 2,000 of whom are based here in the U.K. working across twenty different locations. Passionate about those who work for the company and having led the company through some difficult issues over the past few years, I have had the good fortune to meet with her on many occasions and it is not to understand why this charismatic and high performing leader commanded so much respect internally within the company and internationally with customer and competitor alike. Supporting this
Universally popular amongst her peers, Marilyn Hewson was identified by TIME magazine last year as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’” and by FORTUNE magazine as number one on its list of the ‘50 Most Powerful Women in Business’ – in the latter case for the second year in a row. Having joined Lockheed Martin as a newly hired industrial engineer 37 years ago she has been its chief executive officer for the past seven years. Of her many talents not least in forging strong relationships with customers nationally and internationally, being committed to her staff and future needs of the company, it was particularly pleasing that she visited the UK on a regular basis. An example of this is that every year she would visit the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford of which Lockheed Martin has been a long-time co-sponsor of the Gala Dinner and at which last year she addressed.
Not only was she to be seen regularly in Europe and with customers all over the world but she has over the seven years she has been at the helm of the company been recognised as a leader who has been absolutely and genuinely committed to demonstrating that a diverse team of talented people operating in an inclusive environment and that are united by core values, had the power to make the world a better place for all. These are unusual qualities in a CEO who, in a fast-changing world, is under constant pressure to perform for customer and shareholder alike.
During her period as CEO, Marilyn Hewson has undoubtedly been a worthy steward of the world’s largest aerospace and security company – a company that has through growth and mergers created a legacy of innovation that stretches back to 1912 when Allan and Malcolm Lockheed first set up shop in a garage constructing seaplanes and that would shatter speed and distance records for overwater flights
Lockheed Martin rightly continues to pride itself on attracting some of most talented people in the world to work for the organisation and it is a company that never forgets its core values. Those who work for the company today whether in the US or here in the UK continue to create the most amazing technologies and capabilities in human history. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter of which the UK is a full partner is but one example of what skilled and highly talented people at Lockheed Martin has created and that will over the years in many countries including with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy play such a vital role in defending the free world.
Lockheed Martin UK has and continues to play a huge and important role and the commitment to ensuring that the various activities that the company engages is enduring. Brimming with innovative capabilities that cover large and vital elements of aerospace and security including fast, efficient and secure mail sorting technology right through to supporting the Royal Navy’s strategic nuclear submarine operations, pilot training for the UK armed forces all the way through to providing the eyes and ears for the Royal Navy’s sub-hunting helicopters, armoured vehicles through to helping to build the UK’s first commercial spaceport which I wrote on a few weeks ago demonstrate the depth and breadth of what is a fascinating portfolio of UK operations headed very ably by CEO Peter Ruddock.
It is of course also right to point out that over the past few months, Lockheed Martin has faced unprecedented challenges as, along with all businesses, they have been forced to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, throughout the current difficulties the company has continued to grow and excel not least due to the leadership of Marilyn Hewson and the commitment of staff but also thanks to its financial strength, stability and what is once again a record forward order book.
As Marilyn Hewson reflects on her seven years at the helm of Lockheed Martin, she can without any doubt in my view be extremely proud of her achievements. She has led the company through a period of consistent financial performance and impressive growth during which the market capitalisation has increased 280%. That in the difficult corporate world of today is a remarkable achievement by any standards imaginable. Today Lockheed Martin is not only financially and operationally strong the new CEO picks up from Marilyn Hewson a company that has tremendous forward momentum.
Jim Taiclet, Marillyn Hewson’s successor as Lockheed Martin CEO and who I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, began his career as a U.S. Air Force officer and pilot and served a tour of duty in the Gulf War. He holds a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University, where he was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson School, and is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy with degrees in engineering and international relations.
Mr. Taiclet joins Lockheed Martin from American Tower Corporation where he was appointed CEO in 2003 and became chairman, president and CEO in 2004. Since then, American Tower has grown significantly and increased its market capitalisation from approximately $2 billion to more than $100 billion. Taiclet guided the company’s transformation from a primarily U.S. business to a global player in its industry. He is a proven leader with a record of outstanding performance and widely regarded as one of America’s most successful CEOs.
With such a strong track record Jim Taiclet will almost certainly bring the same sense of duty and purpose to the role I am confident that under his leadership Lockheed Martin both globally and here in the U.K. will continue to grow and excel in the years ahead. I wish him all the best.
To Marilyn Hewson, I say thank you from all your friends in the United Kingdom, not only for what you have done and achieved but particularly for your extraordinary commitment to your people, customers, investors but also the innovation and ambition you have created internally and that your successor inherits.
CHW (London – 16th June 2020)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785