International Women’s Day: Take a Seat at The Table

International Women’s Day: Take a Seat at The Table
March 04, 2021

Program Manager Kim Oyler didn’t wait for an invitation; she pulled up a chair and took a seat at the table.

Now, she wants to encourage other women to do the same.  

After graduating college and serving in the U.S. Air Force, Kim worked as a production test manager before being hired at Lockheed Martin in 2009. Originally moving to Orlando to be closer to her family, joining Lockheed Martin allowed her more opportunities to advance her career.

“Lockheed Martin has so many opportunities for its employees. Where I previously worked, there was not a lot of cross-pollination, and you’d have to wait for someone to retire in order to advance,” she said. “Lockheed Martin lets you experience different programs and expand your network while also having stability for your family.”

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Kim joins the one in five Lockheed Martin employees who served in the armed forces.

“Having worn the uniform, you understand at a deeper level the challenges customers have and the processes the government has. For example, if the government wants to build a new aircraft, it’s not like it can go to the dealership and pick one out. The Department of Defense Acquisition Life Cycle contains many complex milestones and requirements. The knowledge I brought with me into my current career allows me to speak that language and speak on their level.”

While at Lockheed Martin, Kim has actively participated in the Veteran’s and Women’s Impact Network (WIN) Business Resource Group for employees. In the past few years, she has served on the Orlando WIN Board and received two awards in 2020 – the WIN Advocate Award and WIN Outstanding Leadership Award.

“I really love the Business Resource Groups, which have allowed me to not only expand my network but share with people I have common interests in,” she said.

She’s also a professional vocalist and has sang the national anthem at many military ceremonies and Lockheed Martin events.

Just like stepping in front of a microphone takes courage and perseverance, Kim said so does applying to a new role.

An oft-cited 2014 study by Hewlett-Packard found that women only applied for promotions when they met 100 percent of the qualifications. That’s compared to men, who would apply if they met 60 percent. More recently, a 2019 LinkedIn report found that women are 16 percent less likely than men to apply to a job after viewing it. It also found that women apply to 20 percent fewer jobs than men.

Kim encourages women to apply for roles outside their comfort zone because even if they don’t get the job, the manager can keep them in mind for other roles.

“It takes a lot of courage, and it’s not easy,” she said. “We just have to be bold enough to take the first step in achieving our goals, no matter what, and I want people to know they have that courage within them.”

Kim shares some advice for other women looking to make big moves in their careers.

1. Seek out female mentors. 

While male mentors offer many great insights, a female mentor has most likely walked in your shoes. When Kim became a mom, she reached out to other mothers at the company for advice on how to handle a work-life balance.

2. Choose different mentors for different stages of your career.

Early in her career, Kim wanted a mentor to teach her more of the technical aspects of her job. Later on, she sought out mentors in leadership roles who could share lessons learned and tips on how to increase her executive presence.

3. Invest in Yourself. 

Self-care is critically important in order to maintain strong physical and mental health, but it is often neglected – especially by women. Several years ago, Kim was feeling exhausted and depleted daily, and it was negatively affecting her career growth. Once she began weaving exercise and stress relief into her weekly routine, it made all the difference. 

4. Invest in Others.

Kim said community service has enriched her life in the last few years and helped her become a better leader. She said it’s also important to show the younger generations the importance of giving back.

Now, more than 20 years into her career, Kim has moved throughout the company and returned to the team where she got her start, leading the Sustainment Performance Based Logistics and fleet services efforts supporting Lockheed Martin sensors on the Apache helicopter.

Where she’s sitting, there’s plenty of room at the table.