On the final day of 2013, Lockheed Martin Executive Chairman Robert J. Stevens relinquished the last positions he held at the world’s biggest defense contractor. Stevens, son of a steelworker and a former Marine, came to Lockheed Martin in 1996 when the Loral Company where he was already a senior executive was acquired. His success in turning around two struggling business units made him a star performer as other Lockheed executives were being forced out for weak performance. In 1999 Stevens was appointed Chief Financial Officer, beginning a 15-year tenure at the top that saw him subsequently named COO, CEO and Chairman of the Board. During that time, Lockheed Martin became the dominant global force in tactical aviation, military space, naval electronics, missile defense and cybersecurity. It also greatly increased shareholder returns, a trend that has continued under Stevens successor Marillyn Hewson. Most importantly for the long run, Bob Stevens turned a balkanized confederation of legacy cultures into a streamlined, integrated enterprise that is without equal in the global defense sector. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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