Aerospace and defense leaders are indispensable in bolstering national security and safeguarding the well-being of United States citizens. They are at the forefront of supplying cutting-edge equipment, advanced weaponry, and sophisticated systems to maintain aerial supremacy and assert dominance in the face of imminent threats. Their unwavering commitment to innovation and expertise empowers the nation’s military forces and reinforces the defense capabilities of one of the world’s foremost military powers.
Let’s delve into the profiles of seven exceptional individuals who have emerged as vanguards in these critical industries. Learn about their remarkable contributions, groundbreaking achievements, and the indelible impact they have made in leading the skies and securing the nation.
1. John Albers, President & Chief Executive Officer at Albers Aerospace
John Albers is an accomplished industry veteran with over two decades of senior leadership and operational experience in the aerospace and defense markets. He serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Albers Aerospace.
Before serving in private aerospace and defense sectors, Albers has been with the military for most of his career. He served in increasing responsibilities for different U.S. Navy and Marine Corps divisions. Ultimately, he retired in July 2014 as the military team leads for the CH-53K PM program of the Marine Corps.
After serving in the military, he was assigned the Senior Manager position in Systems Engineering at Raytheon and Business Development Executive at Camtech LLC. In 2014, he assumed the responsibility of President and Chief Executive Officer at Albers Aerospace.
Albers Aerospace’s President & Chief Executive Officer Roles and Responsibilities
As the President and Chief Executive Officer at Albers Aerospace, John Albers leads the company’s portfolio for three business units: (1) manufacturing; (2) engineering, aviation, and MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations); and (3) innovative technologies. He’s also the company’s founder and majority owner.
About Albers Aerospace
Albers Aerospace offers broad capabilities and solutions for commercial and government customers. Headquartered in McKinney, Texas, the company manages IT, aerospace, construction, and other government contracting services. The company’s small profile keeps the costs down while offering focused solutions to customers.
2. Robert Geckle Jr., Chairman & Chief Executive Officer at Airbus US Space & Defense, Inc.
Robert A. Geckle, Jr. is Chief Executive Officer for Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, Inc. In this capacity, he oversees the operations, activities and strategy of Airbus U.S. Space & Defense, including the company’s satellite, rotary-wing, fixed-wing and unmanned aerial systems aircraft.
Geckle’s earliest experiences include serving as the Litigation Associate at Howrey LLP and Corporate Associate of International Business Transactions at Hogan & Hartson. His senior management roles started at European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, where he ultimately served as the Senior Legal Counsel of Mergers & Acquisitions.
In February 2011, Geckle was named the Vice President, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer at Airbus Americas. He also served as the SVP and Head of Legal for Industrial Affairs in Europe, North America, and China at Airbus. In July 2020, he joined Airbus US Space & Defense as the Chief Operating Officer before becoming the Chairman and CEO.
Airbus US Space & Defense, Inc.’s Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Roles and Responsibilities
Airbus US Space & Defense, Inc.’s Chairman & Chief Executive Officer manages the overall operations, activities, and systems. Geckle’s industry expertise enables him to provide development strategies to the company’s aerospace and defense markets, such as commercial aviation, rotorcraft, and space activities in the United States.
About Airbus US Space & Defense, Inc.
Airbus U.S. Space & Defense provides industry-leading satellite, geospatial intelligence and cyber capabilities, secure communications, space exploration missions, military helicopters, unmanned aerial systems, and fixed-wing aircraft to the U.S. Department of Defense, National Security Agencies, and Space-focused agencies.
3. Jo Decker, Vice President of Business Winning and Strategy at BAE Systems
As one of the most influential executives for aerospace and defense, Jo Decker plays an active role in combating national security and public safety challenges. She is now Vice President of Business Winning and Strategy at BAE Systems.
Decker is a skilled industry leader in training, project management, strategic planning, and other capabilities. Previously, she was Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations at the United States Department of the Navy for nearly eight years.
Upon her retirement from the military, Decker served as the Vice President of Business Development and Growth at General Dynamics Information Technology for nearly six years. In January 2019, she joined BAE Systems, handling its businesses in the intelligence and security (I&S) sectors.
BAE Systems’ Vice President of Business Winning and Strategy Roles and Responsibilities
As BAE Systems’ Vice President of Business Winning and Strategy, Jo Decker handles the development and growth strategies for government customers, including the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Missile Defense Agency, and other defense-related agencies. She also assumes leadership for the company’s Integrated Defense Solutions, encompassing the I&S sectors.
About BAE Systems
BAE Systems is a multinational aerospace and defense company based in London, England. The company ranks among the largest contractors in the world, most notably in Europe and North America. It operates in more than 40 countries, employing over 90,000 workers globally.
4. Jim Keffer, Vice President of Future Warfare Concepts and Cyber at Lockheed Martin
As the Vice President of Future Warfare Concepts and Cyber at Lockheed Martin, Jim Keffer focuses on developing warfare concepts, cyber programs, and technologies to supply various government priorities.
For the longest time in his career, Keffer has held increasing responsibilities for the different divisions of the U.S. military. During his time in the service, he built expertise in intelligence, cybersecurity, and tactical defense as part of the government’s operations in Iraq. Ultimately, he served as the Chief of Staff at the United States Cyber Command.
After his retirement in October 2015, Keffer founded Keffer Consulting LLC, capitalizing on his expertise in cyberspace operations management, intelligence, ISR, and more. He has served as the consulting firm’s President while serving as the Vice President of Future Warfare Concepts and Cyber at Lockheed Martin at the time.
Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of Future Warfare Concepts and Cyber Roles and Responsibilities
Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of Future Warfare Concepts and Cyber engages in government contracting affairs for business-focused and technology-related units. He communicates the needs of the U.S. government and delivers services and solutions that fit the needs of each federal agency.
About Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin develops a range of aerospace, arms, information technology, and security industries. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington D.C., the company operates a wide range of units and business areas, such as missiles and fire control, rotary and mission systems, space, and aerospace.
5. Dean Bellamy, Executive Vice President of National Security Space at Redwire Space
Dean Bellamy is the current Executive Vice President of National Security Space at Redwire Space. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force for nearly three decades, making him one of the most influential executives for aerospace and defense.
Previously, Bellamy served in different USAF bases globally, including Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, Alabama, Virginia, and more. He concluded his time at the United States Air Force as a Chief of the Policy and Strategy Group for National Reconnaissance Office but has played a crucial role as a retired Colonel until 2021.
After his retirement in September 2018, Bellamy served as the Senior Director of Space Strategy at Peraton. In June 2020, he was promoted to Vice President of Space Strategy before joining Redwire Space in May 2021.
Redwire Space’s Executive Vice President of National Security Space Roles and Responsibilities
As Redwire Space’s Executive Vice President of National Security Space, Dean Bellamy works with the federal government to advance satellites and systems with more agile and better capabilities in the space domain. He improves the national security systems of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.
About Redwire Space
Redwire Space is an aerospace and space manufacturer of items, weapons, applications, infrastructure, and other related systems. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, with several offices across the United States and Europe, the company is a trusted mission partner for civil, commercial, and national security space sectors.
6. Lori Stallard, Vice President of Business Development for Science and Space at KBR
As the Vice President of Business Development for Science & Space at KBR, Lori Stallard supports the science, space, business, and government contracting operations, primarily for the Department of Defense and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She has served in the position since March 2022.
Stallard’s experience, starting in 1993, has made her one of the most influential executives for aerospace and defense. She has served in different defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, URS Corp., and General Dynamics. Before joining KBR, she was the Vice President of Business Development and Capture Strategy at Leidos for seven years.
As an industry leader, Stallard has various volunteering ventures to develop and improve the aerospace and defense markets. Some of her experiences included serving as a board member at the Identification Technology Association, Chair of the DHS Vision Team at the Professional Services Council, and more.
KBR’s Vice President of Business Development for Science and Space Roles and Responsibilities
KBR’s Vice President of Business Development for Science and Space manages a team of 50 people tasked to oversee and drive growth in customer engagements and proposal development across the enterprise. Stallard prioritizes the company’s expansion in science and space markets, such as engineering, health, human performance, and more.
KBR, formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, focuses on the different fields of science and technology sectors, including aerospace, defense, industrial, and intelligence markets. The company has been a leader in space systems and technologies for companies and governments worldwide.
7. Eric Peterson, Director of Business Development at Bennett Aerospace
Eric Peterson is the Director of Business Development at Bennett Aerospace. He leads the veteran-owned enterprise in growth and development strategies for government programs, mainly for the Department of Defense.
Peterson boasts a comprehensive portfolio of operations, business development, and federal solutions. His early career included serving in increasing responsibilities at ComPath, Inc., ultimately becoming the Senior Director of Operations. He was also with BRTRC Federal Solutions, where he served as the Vice President of Business Development for 15 years.
Moreover, Peterson’s experiences as the VP of Federal Services at IBA (Irving Burton Associates and DoD programs for DLH Corporation made him one of the most influential executives for aerospace and defense. He engaged in federal services and contracting, working with commands such as TATRC, CDMRP, USAMMDA, WRAIR, USAMRAA, and more.
Bennett Aerospace’s Director of Business Development Roles and Responsibilities
As Bennett Aerospace’s Director of Business Development, Eric Peterson manages a team responsible for researching opportunities in the federal market and overseeing growth for current and new customers. His other responsibilities include sales projections and revenue forecasting for the company’s ventures.
About Bennett Aerospace
Bennett Aerospace is an award-winning veteran-owned enterprise working to solve the most critical challenges across the federal government. While the company has a young history, established in 2008, it has multiple certifications and government awards from the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and other government agencies.
What are the aerospace and defense industries?
The aerospace and defense industries facilitate air and space capabilities through a wide range of products, technologies, and systems, including the manufacturing of aircraft, ships, weapons, systems, satellites, launch vehicles, and other equipment related to defense.
Given the U.S. government’s substantial reliance on these industries for its military operations and global bases, aerospace and defense industries hold significant importance as one of the largest defense customers. The aerospace and defense sectors are vital for ensuring the readiness and effectiveness of the nation’s defense forces.
There is a growing global demand for advanced aerospace and defense products, driving the continued growth of these industries. From 2022 to 2023, the industry experienced a compound annual growth rate of 7.5%, underscoring their expanding influence and impact on the global stage. This growth reflects the increasing need for cutting-edge technologies and capabilities to address evolving security challenges and meet the demands of modern warfare.