Watch CBS News

Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin's first female CEO, on running world's largest defense contractor

(CBS News) Marillyn Hewson is the new chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor. When she stepped into the role in January, she became the first woman to ever be at the helm of the company.

As CEO, she manages 116,000 employees around the world along with the largest weapons program in U.S. history, the F-35 fighter jet.

Hewson spoke with "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell about her role at Fortune Magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington Wednesday.

She told O'Donnell that as a senior industrial engineer she never set out to become CEO but having this job is "quite an honor."

Hewson explained that as a young leader in her business there were often times where she was the only woman in the room, but she is "happy" to say that is no longer the case. She said that over her 30 years with the company a lot has changed in her industry.

(Watch Hewson talk about her career at left)

"First of all, I don't consider it an ultimate boys' club," she told O'Donnell. "If you were just to look at Lockheed Martin, you'd see a lot of women in senior roles in our company and not only that, our customers, so I don't consider it an old boys' club."

Hewson said one of the keys to her success at Lockheed Martin was never turning down a promotion, even though it meant moving her family eight times over the course of her career.

"When an opportunity comes along, if it makes sense for you to take it, don't hold yourself back," she told O'Donnell. "Just as my mother said, 'You can do anything if you put your mind to it, you work hard and you take that responsibility,' and I think that that would be my message."

The government shutdown forced Lockheed Martin tofurlough 2,400 employees. Hewson told O'Donnell that the standoff in Washington was bad for companies all over the world.

(Watch more with Marillyn Hewson on the government shutdown at left)

"I'm running a business, and so when we have a situation of uncertainty, whether it's the government's shut down and for how long, whether it's a continuing resolution, whether it happens to be sequestration," she said. "All of those things impact our business in terms of decision making on what we're going to do with our plans going forward."

Hewson credits her business and leadership sense to her mother, who not only inspired her but taught her the value of money. As a girl, her mother would send her to the grocery store with $5 to purchase a list of items that cost $7.

"She'd say, 'Make it- I know you could make it work, here's the list,' and yeah that was a challenge. That teaches you very quickly, you know, how to look for the best buy in the grocery store so that you can get everything for the family within that value," she said.

Now, Hewson is in charge of slightly more money as Lockheed Martin is a $47 billion company. She's also ranked No. 4 on Fortune Magazine's list of the most powerful women in business, but she will always credit her success at the office to those lessons she learned at home.

"She wanted us to be able to do what we needed to do, and I bring that into the business world in a similar fashion," she said. "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."

For more with Marillyn Hewson on the business watch the video in the player above.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.