WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Lockheed's new CEO takes the reins

James Taiclet has finished the first day on the job as CEO of Lockheed Martin the 60-year-old executive certainly has big shoes to fill.

He’s following Marillyn Hewson, who took the reins in 2013 and became chairman in 2014. During that time Lockheed Martin and delivered an incredible run of success at the company. Just the share price alone has an extraordinary rise. As Loren Thompson describes in Forbes, the price went from the mid-$80 territory to the high $300 range.

In our part of the world, Hewson also led a transformation of Lockheed that saw it sell off the IT services business that the company spent the previous 20 years building through a series of acquisitions and organic growth.

At the same time, she orchestrated the acquisition of Sikorsky, adding more major defense platforms and the support services around them to Lockheed’s portfolio. Hewson put Lockheed's focus on the platform side of the market and the longer-tail of development, support and logistics that go with it.

She also cemented herself as not just a leader in aerospace and defense, but as an important business voice regardless of market.

Taiclet was publicly named her successor in March and is departure for Lockheed because unlike Hewson and previous company CEOs -- Bob Stevens, Vance Coffman and Norm Augustine -- he didn’t grow up inside Lockheed. He joined the board two years ago and keeps his director post in addition to CEO.

He’s spent the last 17 years as CEO of American Tower Corp., a publicly-traded real estate investment trust. But he has worked in the defense market as president of Honeywell’s aerospace services segment and as a VP at Pratt & Whitney.

Taiclet also was an Air Force fighter pilot during the Persian Gulf War.

Lockheed also takes succession planning very seriously. Just look at how Hewson became CEO when a scandal wrecked the plan that had been in place. The company barely hiccuped.

My guess is that when Taiclet joined the board, Lockheed had him in mind as a possible successor. What better way for a candidate to learn about the company and for the board to learn about that candidate.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 16, 2020 at 12:42 PM

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