Marillyn Hewson – First Female CEO of Lockheed-Martin

Hard work paid off for this CEO, freshly minted (after 30 years of effort).  In 2013 her base salary of $1.38 million and other compensation bring her estimated 2013 salary to over 10 million dollars.


Mrs Hewson is of my own generation, born in 1953, and from my own area of the country – the Midwest. She hails from Junction City, Kansas, a small town in the midst of the Flint Hills and next to Army training center, Fort Riley.

However, at age 9 her Dad passed away and her Mom took her and her siblings to Alabama to be closer to relatives.

Her Mother, who served in WWII in the Womans Army Corp (WAC), now cashed in her war bonds, bought a small apartment building and managed it; and took a second job at the elementary school cafeteria to help make ends meet. Even when times were tight, Hewson noted in her essay for the ‘Women Rule’ series on, her mother demonstrated the leadership lessons she was teaching to her children.

Leadership lessons.

These are the lessons she demonstrated, and about which Hewson wrote in her essay:

  • “What my mother taught me about leadership is the importance of determination.”
  • “My mother did what all great leaders do: She sparked the growth of future leaders.”
  • “ mother understood that great leaders are driven by purpose, and the impact they leave must be larger than their own footprints.”
  • “Leaders have to see past problems to solutions, and my mother excelled at just that.”


Hewson attended the University of Alabama, graduating with a bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Masters in Economics. While there she found a mentor, Charles Leathers, one of the economics professors. Ms. Hewson and Mr. Leathers are still connected.

One of the phrases the press uses to describe Hewson is “well connected”. Others are ‘well respected’ and warm. The outgoing Lockheed-Martin CEO said “she is a genuinely likable person who understands people and connects with people in this company at an individual level.”

While at the University of Alabama, Hewson met and married her husband James. Together they played on the faculty-student softball team, bought and remodeled a house next to campus in which they lived and entertained other graduate school students. As of November, the two had been married for 37 years.


After obtaining her masters degree, Ms Hewson worked for awhile as an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, before starting with Lockheed-Martin in1983 as a senior industrial engineer at the Marietta, GA plant working on a new program for military aircraft. This gave her an opportunity to advance and she took on supervisory duties.

Her spouse followed her on her rise to the top of Lockheed-Martin, keeping the home front together as the family (Marillyn, James and two sons) moved 8 times in 29 years through 19 different leadership positions.

Along the way she also attended the Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School executive development programs.

She welcomed every new challenge and took on increasing amounts of responsibility – with skill and determination, earning correspondingly high salaries with each.

In 2001, according to Biz Journals, she formed an organization at Lockheed with other female leaders – the Women’s Leadership Forum.

CBS News reported that, as a young leader at Lockheed, she was often the sole female in the room (I had much the same experience in my career). As a leader at the company she says:

“I think it’s important for people to be prepared. We prepare our leaders for the next job by giving them experiences, giving them the education and things so that when they are faced with a new challenge they’ve had a collection of experiences to draw on so that they can be successful.”

Hewson’s response to the hoopla over a woman in the CEO spot.

The Seattle Times believes that Hewson has played down the importance of this milestone – of being the first female CEO of Lockheed-Martin, quoting her as saying:

“I certainly want to continue to be a role model,”

“But I don’t think it’s necessarily about being a female in our business. I think it’s about … my track record, my results.”


Hewson and husband James have established trusts, at a minimum to hold the title to their homes. According to public records, in 2005 they sold a home on 2 acres built in 1984 with 5000 square feet for 1.5 million (in Maryland). Another home they owned inside a trust was purchased in 2010 for 3.4 million. It was built in 1998, has 2 stories with over 9000 square feet of living space.

Her latest honor, serving on the board of National Geographic Education Foundation  was added just this November. She serves on multiple boards of directors, including Lockheed-Martins.


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