Interview with Sherry Colville, Senior Director, Lockheed Martin Canada. Submitted by Women in Defence & Security
As part of their Virtual Awards Breakfast on 4 March 2021, Women in Defence & Security (WiDS) is highlighting their sponsors and their commitment to promoting the advancement of Canadian women in defence and security. This week, WiDS sat down (virtually) with former Women in Aerospace Canada Director Sherry Colville. As Senior Director, Integrated Solutions and Sustainment at Lockheed Martin Canada, Rotary and Mission Systems Sherry speaks to how, as a leader, she has adapted to this changing year and why diversity and inclusion matters to Lockheed Martin Canada.
Q: Why is it important to support/promote the advancement of women in careers in the defence and security industry?
A: Women have come a long way during my career, but we still have much farther to go. Women have been making slow yet steady inroads in STEM fields and gaining more promotions in the second-tier management levels; however, investment to inspire and attract the younger generation is an important focus for the future. To be frank, a decline in enrollment of women leaders will deprive technology and innovation advancement.
Q: What role do organizations like yours play in breaking down the barriers and cultivating an inclusive and diverse culture?
A: While a diverse and inclusive culture is based on equal representations of various genders, races and other unrepresented groups, it is also about a workforce with a variety of ideas and experiences necessary for business success. We are progressing diversity and inclusion initiatives and these principles are woven throughout our culture at Lockheed Martin Canada and reflect our values of doing what’s right, respecting others and performing with excellence. By leveraging our employees’ perspectives and unique talents and experiences, we can deliver innovative, affordable solutions all contributing to customer value.
Q: How have you and your team adapted to the changing world due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: At Lockheed Martin Canada we changed our operational behaviors and protocols to adapt to these unprecedented times. With a focus on maintaining seamless support to mission critical customer services, our team rose to the challenge. We adopted alternative, innovative measures, while meeting operational governance and policies, for sensitive data transmission and training and technology transfer. Across the corporation, we are telecommuting where possible and in-office only on necessity.
Q: As a leader, what is some advice you would give to women entering this industry?
A: There is no doubt women are underrepresented in the defence industry; this can sometimes appear as a deterrent and intimidating for career progression but don’t let that stop you. My advice is: you are your own career manager. Become a member of a professional organization or association, like WiDS. Networking is one of the best ways to stay connected, grow and advance your career. Find your voice for boardroom discussions and, be heard.
Q: What leadership characteristics do you find most important to have during these times?
A: In my opinion, the most important leadership characteristics during these times are; trust, communication, empathy and flexibility. With mandates and guidelines constantly changing, it’s easy for employees to feel overwhelmed and anxious. It is up to us as leaders to try and ease their concerns and help them move forward in a positive direction.