Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. government contractor with $46 billion in annual sales, appointed its first female chief executive on November 9 after CEO-in-waiting Christopher Kubasik resigned over a “close personal relationship with a subordinate employee,” the company announced. The Bethesda, Md.-based company named Marillyn Hewson, 58, to take over as president and CEO on January 1, succeeding outgoing CEO Robert Stevens.
The Lockheed Martin board of directors had initially named Hewson, a 29-year veteran of the company, president and COO-elect in April. She has also served as executive vice president of the company’s electronic systems business area since 2010. Before that, she was president of Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, N.Y.
Kubasik was Lockheed Martin’s president and COO and (according to a former company official who spoke to AIN) had served as the company’s corporate officer for ethics policy. In a conference call with reporters in the U.S., Stevens noted that the company’s code of ethics and business conduct “applies to every person.” Stevens said he is “deeply disappointed and genuinely saddened” by Kubasik’s actions. He confirmed that the subordinate employee no longer works for Lockheed Martin. By coincidence, Kubasik’s resignation was announced on the same day that former U.S. Army four-star general David Petraeus, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, resigned over an extramarital affair.
Hewson takes the helm at a challenging time for Lockheed Martin. The company faces reduced government defense spending over the long term and ongoing issues with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the largest U.S. weapons program with an estimated total acquisition cost of $396 billion, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Lockheed Martin announced last month that it is splitting Hewson’s former business unit into two new units–missiles and fire control, and mission systems and training–effective December 31. The company’s other three business units are aeronautics; space systems; and information systems and global solutions.
At the Air Force Association conference in September, Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, newly appointed as the F-35 deputy program executive officer, said the relationship between Lockheed Martin and the Department of Defense program office “is the worst I’ve ever seen.…It should not take 10, 11 or 12 months to negotiate a contract with someone we’ve been doing business with for 11 years,” Bogdan argued, referring to negotiations for a fifth low-rate initial production lot. “There’s something fundamentally wrong with that. We’ve got to fix it.”
Further explaining those remarks at a Pentagon press briefing on November 13, Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, said, “Lockheed seemed [to the program office] to be focused on short-term business goals and we’d like to see them focused more on execution of the program and successful delivery of the product.” Kendall said Robert Stevens informed him of the leadership change at Lockheed Martin just before Kubasik’s resignation was announced. Hewson “has a reputation as a capable professional. I’m looking forward to working with her,” he added.
Hewson joins two other women leading major U.S. defense contractors. Linda Hudson was appointed president and CEO of BAE Systems’ U.S. subsidiary in October 2009. Pheobe Novakovic will take over as General Dynamics chief executive in January.