The door to advancement in business for women is wide open, but success requires commitment and sometimes sacrifice, the head of the company that makes the F-35 Lightning II fighter told an audience of more than 900 at Pratt & Whitney's Women's Leadership Forum.
"Women must be prepared to take on new and more challenging assignments, pursue mentors, and network with others to learn from them," Lockheed Martin CEO and President Marillyn Hewson told the predominantly female gathering Wednesday at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. "And most importantly, always perform at your best and focus on continuous learning."
Hewson was introduced by Pratt & Whitney President Dave Hess as one of the nation's top corporate CEOs. "She is a great example of a great woman who's made a difference at a great company," he said. "I think it's fair to say our guest speaker today is one of the most capable and accomplished executives you can find anywhere in the world, in any industry."
Hess noted that, over the past decade, the number of women executives at Pratt & Whitney has grown. "In a highly competitive industry, we know diverse talent helps make us better, smarter and stronger in every way," he said. "A big part of that is encouraging women to advance and build successful careers, and providing opportunities in every part of Pratt & Whitney."
Today 21 Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs, a significant transformation from just one female CEO in 1998. Hewson is among three women holding the top position at three of the six largest Pentagon contractors. She was selected by Fortune magazine as one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The theme for this year's forum, sponsored by the Pratt & Whitney Women's Council, was "Take Charge: Your Future's Bright." Hewson said taking charge of one's career path and staying focused is key. "The advice I give our employees is to decide for yourself what you want, and then own that decision," she told the crowd. "Discuss it with your family and make the choice to do what it takes to achieve the goals that are important to you. Take charge of your career."
Hewson encouraged women to take on leadership roles based on their talents and chosen field. "At some point in each of our lives, we need to ask ourselves what we stand for, and for me, that sense of patriotic duty has made working for Lockheed Martin all the more fulfilling and meaningful."
Hewson currently chairs the Sandia Corp. Board of Directors and serves on the board of directors of DuPont. In addition, she is a member of the Association of the United States Army Council of Trustees, the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., and the University of Alabama's Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration Board of Visitors. She also serves as Steering Committee Chair for the Defense Industry Initiative, a nonprofit association of U.S. defense companies committed to conducting business affairs at the highest ethical level and in full compliance with the law.
Mary Gallagher, vice president of Finance, Military Engines, serves as the Women's Council Executive Champion. "I am honored to play a role in such an incredible group of women," she said, "and I am very proud of the members of the Women's Council and their many contributions to the outstanding achievements of Pratt & Whitney."
The overall purpose of Pratt & Whitney's Leadership Forum event is to encourage leadership development and career growth in an inclusive environment for both men and women. Since its inception in 2007, the Pratt & Whitney Women's Council has served as a leadership and resource group representing female professionals.
Click here to view remarks by David Hess.
Click here to view remarks by Marillyn Hewson.