Five Female CEOs Leading Big Time Manufacturing Companies

Lawren Henderson
Staff Writer at Cluster

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Women are slowly making inroads in manufacturing – a sector long dominated by men. According to the BLS’s 2017 numbers, women hold only 29.5% of manufacturing jobs while accounting for 46.9% of the United States workforce. The figures suggest there’s a long way to go before achieving gender parity, and these five female CEOs sitting in the captain's chair of huge manufacturing brands could help attract more women to the industry.

Mary Barra

Chairman and CEO

General Motors

General Motors is America’s largest automaker and holds the #10 spot on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies by revenue. Mary Barra took the reins as chief executive in 2014, leading a global workforce of 173,000 employees. A native of Royal Oak Michigan, Ms. Barra started working at General Motors when she was 18 and used her wages earned from checking panels and inspecting hoods to pay for college. She previously served as Executive Vice President of Global Product Development before becoming the company’s CEO. Currently, Ms. Barra’s challenges involve launching profitable electric vehicles, settling a mutually painful workers’ strike, and continuing to grow revenue which increased for the first time in half a decade last year.

Eileen Drake

President and CEO

Aerojet Rocketdyne

Aerojet Rocketdyne develops and manufactures propulsion systems for defense and space applications, as well as armaments for precision tactical and long-range weapon systems applications. Since 2015, the company has been led by Eileen Drake who previously served as COO after holding high-level positions at United Technologies Corporation, Pratt & Whitney, and Ford. Revenue at the company has increased every year during Ms. Drake’s tenure as chief executive, reaching $1.9 billion in 2018. Sales of its engines developed to power space shuttles and scramjets continue at a brisk pace, lifting the company’s stock to record highs in 2019.

Marillyn Hewson

Chairman, President, and CEO

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is the largest defense contractor in the world by arms revenue ($44.9 billion). Since 2013, the company has been headed up Marillyn Hewson who previously served as President of Lockheed Martin Logistics Services. Ms. Hewson’s career at Lockheed began 35 years ago when she joined the company as an industrial engineer. Today, she is responsible for leading the company to new milestones, with its sales rising 8% last year on the back of its F-35 fighter jet program. Six countries have taken delivery of the company’s highly profitable F-35 Lightning II jet with more expected. Lockheed’s stock price has risen 16% in the last year, besting the S&P 500 and the industry average.

Phebe Novakovic

Chairman and CEO

General Dynamics

Recording $19.5 billion in arms sales in 2017, General Dynamics is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world. Since January 2013, the company has been led by Phebe Novakovic who previously served as President and COO. Ms. Novakovic has a storied career in national security, working as an operations officer for the CIA, and Special Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense. General Dynamics products include the M1 Abrams tank, Tomahawk missiles, Atlas rockets, and Gulfstream jets. Under Ms. Novakovic’s direction, General Dynamic has logged steady year over year increases in revenue and operating earnings.

Kathy Warden

Chairman, President, and CEO

Northrop Grumman

With annual revenue in excess of $30 billion, aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman is one of the largest weapons manufacturers and military technology providers in the world. In January of this year, Kathy Warden took over as head of the company. Previously, she served as COO where she was responsible for the operational management of the company’s four sectors as well as its enterprise services. Under her tenure as CEO, Northrop Grumman landed nearly $26 billion in new contracts in the first two quarters of the year and the stock has been on a tear, up roughly 19% and hovering around all-time highs.

Interested in learning how Cluster CEO Kim Taylor went from would-be journalist to the founder of two venture-backed companies? She tells her story on the Skill Podcast.

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Published on
October 13, 2019