Loren Thompson, the veteran defense industry consultant, believes the departure of Larry Lawson from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is part of an effort by new CEO Marillyn Hewson to remake Lockheed's management team and its "in-your-face customer relations."
Writing on Forbes.com, Thompson says that while Lawson "is generally considered to have done a competent job of putting the F-35 on a sustainable track, he is a forceful leader who "isn't shy about showing what he knows, and sometimes that can rub customers the wrong way."
This week, Lawson retired from Lockheed Martin and took a job as CEO at Spirit AeroSystems, in Wichita, Kan., which Thompson describes as "a second-tier company." While Lockheed has made progress on fixing problems in the F-35 program, a top Pentagon official recently criticized Lockheed's approach, claiming it tries to "squeeze every nickel" out of the Defense Department.
Orlando Carvalho, who will succeed Lawson at the Fort Worth-based Aeronautics division, is described by Thompson as "calm and courteous," and Lorraine Martin, newly installed as head of the F-35 program, as "a similarly cerebral problem solver."
The cultural shift at Lockheed, Thompson writes, "places a premium on teamwork and respect," for both colleagues and customers.
-- Steve Kaskovich