The life and career of Marillyn Hewson, CEO of the Pentagon's top weapons supplier and the 'most powerful woman in the world'

Andrew Harrer-Pool / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson (pictured) has worked at Lockheed Martin since 1983.

  • Marillyn Hewson has been CEO of Lockheed Martin since 2013.
  • This year, Fortune selected her as number one in their list of the world’s most powerful women.
  • Hewson got her start at the aerospace and defence company in 1983 as a senior industrial engineer.

Marillyn Hewson is the most powerful woman in the world right now.

At least, that’s what Fortune magazine has dubbed the Lockheed Martin CEO and chairman. The magazine credited Hewson with having placed the aerospace and defence company in “the sweet spot to cater to the modern military’s needs” and with “leading the charge to develop hypersonic weapons.”

And Hewson is compensated in the millions for her efforts. The CEO’s total net worth isn’t immediately clear, but according to the Washington Business Journal, her total compensation in 2017 was $US22.87 million. That’s an 11.15% increase from her overall compensation in 2016, which was reported at $US20.57 million.

Here’s a look at Hewson’s life and career:

Hewson was born and raised in Junction City, Kansas. When Hewson was just nine years old, her father, Warren Adams, died of a heart attack.

Alex Wong / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: Politico

Her mother Mary was left to care for five kids. Hewson wrote in Politico that her mother’s resilience “taught me everything I needed to know about leadership.”

USDA/Wikimedia CommonsJunction City, Kansas.

Source: Politico

Hewson wrote that she grew up helping to care for her younger siblings, doing odd jobs in their apartment building, and grocery shopping for their mum.

Source: Politico

“Taking on those responsibilities made us stronger, wiser and more self-reliant,” she wrote.

Source: Politico

She attended the University of Alabama, where she received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in economics.

Ken Wolter/ShutterstockThe University of Alabama.


Hewson credited her time at the university with prepping her for “the challenges and opportunities I’ve encountered throughout my career — from the day I joined the company as an industrial engineer to my current role as CEO.”

Ttownfeen/Wikimedia CommonsThe University of Alabama.


She also met her future husband James while studying at the University of Alabama. Over the course of Hewson’s rise at Lockheed Martin, the couple would decide that James would remain at home with their two sons.

Gkelly17/Wikimedia CommonsUniversity of Alabama.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Hewson continues to follow Crimson Tide football, and also recently donated $US15 million to the university’s business college.

Matthew Tosh/Wikimedia CommonsUniversity of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football squad.

Source: Fortune,

After college, Hewson began working at the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Hewson joined Lockheed Martin in 1983, when she began working as a senior industrial engineer.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson

Over the course of her career, Hewson worked in four of Lockheed Martin’s five business segments: information systems and global solutions, missiles and fire controls, mission systems and trainings, aeronautics, and space systems.

Drew Angerer / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: “The Most Influential Women in Business,” Fortune

In 2012, Hewson was set to become Lockheed Martin’s chief operating officer.

Alex Wong / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: “The Most Influential Women in Business,” Fortune

Fortune reported that the longtime executive assumed that the role would be the culmination of her time with the company — but a scandal changed the course of her career at the company.

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: Fortune

Incoming Lockheed Martin CEO Christopher Kubasik resigned after an investigation revealed that he had an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate.

Drew Angerer / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: “The Most Influential Women in Business,” Forbes

That’s how Hewson became Lockheed Martin’s COO and, subsequently, CEO in quick succession. “Nineteen was a quick turn,” she told Fortune, referring to the fact that becoming COO and then CEO represented her 19th and 20th jobs within the organisation.

Alex Wong / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson

Source: Fortune

Hewson told the Wall Street Journal that it “took seconds” for her to accept the CEO gig from the company’s board in 2013.

Mark Wilson / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Today, Lockheed Martin is considered the “Pentagon’s top weapons supplier,” according to Fortune. The company’s market cap is currently $US98.86 billion.

Alex Wong / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: Fortune, Markets Insider

Lockheed Martin’s website guarantees that the firm’s 100,000 or so employees are focused on everything from “protecting citizens” to “advancing the boundaries of science.”

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesA Lockheed Martin fighter plane.

Source: Fortune, Lockheed Martin

Hewson has donated to the campaigns of politicians from both major US parties over the years. And US President Donald Trump praised her as “the leading women’s business executive in this country, according to many.”

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson with US President Donald Trump.

Source: “The Most Influential Women in Business,” Federal Election Commission,Business Insider

He flubbed her name, though, dubbing her “Marillyn Lockheed.”

Source: Business Insider

Today, Hewson lives in a $US5.45 million McLean, Virginia mansion, which is equipped with a gym, an elevator, and a wine cellar.

Áine Cain/Google MapsMcLean, Virginia.

Source: Curbed

Hewson wrote on LinkedIn that over the course of her career, she’s learned that leadership skills are “perishable.” She wrote that true leadership “… takes a devotion to listening and learning to build and maintain leadership skills and effectiveness.”

Justin Sullivan / Getty ImagesMarillyn Hewson.

Source: LinkedIn

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