For Brenda Davidson, it’s all about leaving the door open for others to follow.
Growing up in a small community in New Mexico, school was 20 miles away and there were 120 students in her kindergarten-through-12th-grade-school. Being raised in that tight-knit farming community where everyone had to pitch in to plow fields, cook meals and feed cattle taught her the importance of standing together and supporting each other. She wants to offer the same opportunities to others that those in her small town gave her.
Working as the Vice President of PAC-3 Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, her community has grown quite a lot in the 110,000-employee company. In February 2020, she made company history as the first female Integrated Air and Missile Defense vice president.
“Sometimes people don’t feel like they have the ability to move forward themselves and may not realize what opportunities are out there,” she said. “And there are many, especially in a place like Lockheed Martin.”
She said that’s where mentors come in to help guide the next generation, especially other women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Brenda actively supports the YMCA and Trinity Community Foundation by taking opportunities into underserved communities supported by organizations like Girls, Inc. and Safe Haven. She also knows the importance of getting girls excited about STEM early on.
“Lockheed Martin is a big enough company where you never stop learning. I am one who believes that life is too short to go to a job that you don’t love and continue to love,” she said. "No matter what role I’ve been in, people have challenged me and let me grow in my positions, letting me move to different roles and grow in my knowledge.”
When Brenda joined the company 32 years ago, she was the only woman in her department and in meetings. Since then, she’s seen the company grow more diverse and take steps to be more inclusive.
“All of us come from different backgrounds and see things differently,” Brenda said. “Those different backgrounds allow us to choose the best ideas and ways to do things. All of the diversity and different backgrounds are what make us successful and a stronger company.”
She encourages women who are interested in aerospace and defense to “never get too comfortable in any job” and constantly look for opportunities to push themselves.
"I am one who believes that life is too short to go to a job that you don’t love and continue to love. No matter what role I’ve been in, people have challenged me and let me grow in my positions, letting me move to different roles and grow in my knowledge."
In her career, she’s traveled across different business areas and even today continues to push herself and her boundaries because of who is relying on Lockheed Martin every day.
The daughter and wife of Navy veterans, she never forgets those she’s working for.
“My dad was in the Korean War, and I wish I had today’s technology for him when he was there,” she said. “I also think what if my child was on the battlefield, and I’d want to bring them any level of technology and tools that I can. I think of what we can bring to the market in 20 years for those fighting for our country and supporting us, both for the U.S. and our allies.”
As a volunteer with the Military/Veterans Resource Group employee resource group, she advocates for those adapting to civilian life from the battlefield and wants to serve as a resource for them.
“That warfighter may want to join a defense industry partner after their years of service with the military, and I want them to look at Lockheed Martin as a company they want to work for,” she said. “We’re here to make their transition out of the military successful. The knowledge they bring and the experiences they share with us are invaluable.”
She encourages everyone – from women starting out in the STEM industry to military veterans transitioning to a new career – to never be afraid to knock on and open the doors in front of them. It takes courage to push against the status quo.
“There are scholarships to help and people are there to support and mentor ,” she said. “It’s important to tell people at a young age that they have those doors and have the ability to do anything they want to really set them up for success in the future. People sometimes don’t realize the doors are wide open, and I truly believe they are.”