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University of Alabama grad named nation’s most powerful woman in business

Marillyn Hewson – the chairman, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin and a two-time graduate of the University of Alabama – is the most powerful woman in American business, per Fortune magazine’s annual ranking.

This is the first time since 2015 that the list has a new woman ranked at the top, with General Motors president and CEO Mary Barra being unseated by Hewson, who jumped up from her 2017 rank of third.

The 64-year-old Hewson took over the lead role at Lockheed in 2013, and the company’s market cap has since doubled.

“Nothing says power like rockets and ramparts. Hewson has become the top purveyor of U.S. defense at a time when geopolitical threats (and the government funding that goes along with them) abound—not just on earth, but also in space and cyberspace,” Fortune wrote.

The writeup continued, “As head of the country’s largest government contractor, Hewson rises to No. 1 this year, having positioned Lockheed Martin in the sweet spot to cater to the modern military’s needs—from its humming F-35 fighter jet program to its ability to equip the White House’s proposed ‘Space Force.'”

“Lockheed is also leading the charge to develop hypersonic weapons, which travel five times as fast as the speed of sound. Such new tech has become a U.S. national security priority given advances in Russia and China, helping Lockheed win about $1 billion in contracts so far in 2018. That’s been a tailwind for the stock, with returns up 15% year over year, boosting Lockheed’s market value to nearly $100 billion,” Fortune concluded.

Not only is Hewson investing her time and talents in Lockheed’s success, but she is also lifting up her alma mater.

Hewson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in economics from the University of Alabama, currently serves as a member of both the Culverhouse College of Business Board of Visitors and the university President’s Cabinet.

This summer, Hewson and her husband James made what was, at the time, the largest donation in UA’s storied history. Their gift of $15 million was pledged to benefit the Culverhouse College of Business. James is himself a graduate of the Capstone, holding a bachelor’s degree in communication.

Marillyn Hewson, who was also named as the nation’s “Chief Executive of the Year” for 2018 by Chief Executive magazine, has credited her education at the University of Alabama for laying the foundation for her tremendous success.

“I am deeply thankful for the strong business education I received at the University of Alabama,” Hewson explained. “That education helped prepare me for many of 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.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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