Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of Special Programs with Lockheed Martin Space, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the core values and long-term commitment that the company puts into its culture and people to attract and keep the best talent in the sector.
In addition, Demaree also discussed the biggest improvements you’ve seen in the way we think about innovation with the rise of cybersecurity and other emerging technologies as well as Lockeed Martin’s efforts to give back to the greater community during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
“We do so much for our customers, and it takes a talented and diverse team to succeed. Our people are absolutely our greatest asset. We strive to build a dynamic and welcoming workplace that drives innovation, embraces diverse perspectives and encourages collaboration.”
You can read the full interview with Maria Demaree below:
ExecutiveBiz: In recent years, what are some of the biggest improvements you’ve seen in the way we talk and think about innovation across the federal sector since the rise of cybersecurity, AI/ML, 5G and other emerging technologies?
Maria Demaree: “One of the critical areas to highlight is acceleration. Our customers today need to act very quickly to respond to threats. As a result, we need to meet that challenge, and we’re speeding up technology integration and digital transformation to optimize our responsiveness.
We’re still expected to meet high quality and reliability standards, but everything is moving much faster, which means we’re iterating more and maturing capabilities in shorter time spans.
In addition, I’d like to highlight the importance our customers place in terms of multi-domain convergence. At Lockheed Martin, we’re looking at how to advance the ability to link highly capable platforms into a network that truly provides that awareness as well as command and control access across all security domains.
As we talk about 21st-century security across land, sea, air, space and cyber domains, our vision is to design and leverage artificial intelligence, 5G, edge computing and other emerging technologies, for our nation as well as our allies. We’re talking about multi-domain connectivity to meet those evolving challenges for a more complex battlespace.
21st-century capability also brings greater resilience, which is very important to our customers. For instance, higher output, as well as ultra-low latency, is needed for edge devices to operate in the joint battlespace.
It’s allowing us to fully harness the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to make those battlefield decisions at speed. We now have the computing power to bring AI/ML to bear on our nation’s most difficult challenges and provide superiority over our adversaries.
AI technology is moving forward, but it’s also constantly evolving. We still need to shorten the timelines to respond as we think about areas like hypersonics. We have minutes—not days—to solve monumental problems. It’s so important for machines to do the heavy lifting so decision-makers have the data they need when they need it.
ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to your company’s culture? How has your team developed its workflow and ability to drive success in such a competitive market?
Maria Demaree: “I’m really proud of how our company focuses on remaining ethical above all else and committed to our values:
‘Do What’s Right
Perform With Excellence.’
Those values drive our workforce and the work for our customers. In terms of succeeding in a competitive market, these values will always be our north stars. No matter what happens in the market, we’ve seen that staying true to these values is always the right thing to do. Not just for us, but for our customers.
I think it’s important that whenever we need to make difficult decisions, Lockheed Martin makes the right choice and does the right thing. Sometimes that does mean walking away from a business opportunity.
Sustainability is a natural outflow from “Do What’s Right.” And it’s something employees and prospective employees are asking us about more and more. Sure, we’re driving energy efficiency and reducing waste, but there’s a lot more work to do than just the environmental focus. We look at sustaining and strengthening our communities and how our ethics guide those efforts.
Our approach to sustainability also relates to STEM inclusion and equality in hiring. As a female executive, those are really important to me. I especially appreciate that our company encourages us to talk about these things. Lockheed Martin is very open about it, especially following the pandemic.
ExecutiveBiz: How does your company ensure long-term success for your workforce to drive value for your employees as you continue to face the uphill challenge to recruit and retain the best talent in the federal marketplace?
Maria Demaree: There’s something we say at Lockheed Martin Space, and that’s “only here.” Only here can employees be on a team that has been a part of every NASA mission to Mars, deliver the first woman to the Moon and at the same time help defend our nation with the newest hypersonics and directed energy programs. We do so much for our customers, and it takes a talented and diverse team to succeed.
Our people are absolutely our greatest asset. We strive to build a dynamic and welcoming workplace that drives innovation, embraces diverse perspectives and encourages collaboration. In that vein, my team started an initiative around working in classified spaces that is changing how classified employees experience the workplace, both with the tools to do their job, the work environment and culture.
These changes come as new generations are becoming the largest sections of our workforce, and they have different motivators at work. In classified environments, we’re exploring how we can improve all those factors within security limitations. Challenging the status quo is possible with clear communication with customers and employees alike. And big change can mean simple changes, like virtual windows to the outside, flexibility for unclassified work and tools to improve collaboration.
ExecutiveBiz: An important part of a company having strong business ethics in the federal sector is about helping and giving back to the greater community. Can you speak to the various charities and work with other organizations that your company does to make a difference and how people can get involved?
Maria Demaree: “Giving back is something that Lockheed Martin and I personally take pride in. In 2021, despite being unable to volunteer in person most of the year due to COVID, we at Lockheed Martin Space logged more than 43,000 hours of community service.
Lockheed Martin’s community engagement efforts focus on causes important to our mission, employees and local communities. We break them down into three categories: STEM education, military/veteran support and community resilience.
We’ve always supported keeping our talent pipeline strong through high school and college experiences, and we’ve shown steadfast commitment to supporting our active duty and veteran product users.
In recent years, Lockheed Martin has expanded our social impact strategy to include community resilience, which helps communities coordinate disaster preparedness and relief efforts.
Personally, I am especially passionate about STEM initiatives that motivate girls and women to pursue technical careers, especially through Girl Scouts and the Society of Women Engineer forums. I’ve assisted local schools with developing cyber curriculum, developed programs to encourage computer courses, and given career advice to those who may not pursue college degrees but have technical skills.
Additionally, I championed a workforce program to develop a pipeline of community college students and part time employees to be brought into the workforce, as a way to increase diversity.”