Saudi Global Competitiveness Forum

Saudi Global Competitiveness Forum
January 25, 2016

I’m honored to be here for this year’s Global Competitiveness Forum. It’s a pleasure to be among so many distinguished colleagues and friends.

Lockheed Martin and Saudi Arabia have been partners in progress for more than half a century, ever since the Kingdom purchased its first C-130 Hercules transport aircraft in 1965. Today, Saudi Arabia is home to one of the largest fleets of Hercules airlifters in the world.

And they continue to operate these capable aircraft for a variety of critical missions such as providing humanitarian support to those in need.

As we’ve worked together all these years, the Saudi economy has undergone a significant transformation – and in the process you’ve lifted the lives of the Saudi people. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created.

You’ve made big investments in critical areas such as education, health and infrastructure.

Vibrant cities and exciting development projects are re-shaping the Saudi landscape.

More young Saudis are pursuing higher education, including nearly 110,000 who are studying in the United States today.

And citizens are more engaged than ever in the conversation about their future. In fact, I’ve read that the Kingdom has the greatest number of active Twitter users in the Arab world.

At the same time, as Saudis themselves well know, key challenges remain – from falling oil prices to regional conflict… to meeting the aspirations of a population whose majority is under the age of 25.

Wherever we’re from, we know that young people are the future of our countries and our world.

And they deserve a future that is worthy of their dreams.

So I applaud the Saudi leadership’s commitment to do what it takes to propel the Kingdom forward and to continue to create a prosperous future for their citizens.

The focus of this Forum is competitiveness, in particular, competitive sectors – and how they can help the Kingdom achieve the key goals it has set for itself, such as:

- Modernizing and diversifying the economy,

- Promoting sustainable growth, and

- Creating opportunity and prosperity for rising generations.

These are crucial objectives, and ones that every country can relate to, as we all strive to put the institutions and frameworks in place to support a competitive economy. That’s how we equip our countries, our companies, and our fellow citizens to seize the opportunities of growth.

And whether we’re here at this forum as leaders from public, private or academic organizations, we know we have much to learn from each other, and much to gain from one another’s success.

We’ve seen around the world that the Aerospace and Defense sector has a vital role to play in fueling growth, prosperity, innovation and security.

And I’m proud to speak for the 126,000 men and women of Lockheed Martin, when I say that we are eager to play our part in helping the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reach its goals.

We’ve significantly expanded our presence in the Kingdom in recent years, as we work to develop partnerships that create long-term local jobs in the security, aerospace and commercial sectors. That expansion continues today. This afternoon, we will officially open our new sustainment facility, where we will repair advanced sensor systems for Saudi Arabia’s fleet of F-15 aircraft.

The center is a collaboration with Advanced Electronics Company here in the Kingdom and a great example of the types of partnerships we value most – partnerships that help unleash the energy, creativity and ambition of the Saudi people.

The Aerospace and Defense sector cultivates highly-skilled talent in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM disciplines that are critical to innovation. And I believe that innovation is the most important driver of long-term success and global competitiveness.

At Lockheed Martin, innovation is at the core of everything we do. It enables us to bring the best solutions to our customers, and it fuels our growth as a company.

In fact, the story of Lockheed Martin has always been the story of people looking over the horizon. This goes back to the men who built some of the world’s first practical flying machines – like Glenn L. Martin, the Lockheed brothers, and Igor Sikorsky. And it continues today.

Innovation drives our business, whether we’re tackling complex security issues, warding off cyber-attacks, or developing the spacecraft that will someday take humans to Mars.

That’s because we believe the quest for innovative solutions is fundamental to peace, prosperity and human progress. It is only by stretching beyond our reach that we can achieve our true potential.

Yet, innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It needs a supportive environment to develop and prosper. After all, innovation is about new ideas. And it’s important to remember that new ideas come from people.

It is up to us as leaders to ensure that our people have an environment where they can thrive. We must ensure that we have a culture that equips enables and empowers people to bring their best ideas to our biggest challenges.

I believe that a culture of innovation is built on three key elements – education, inspiration and collaboration. I’d like to touch on each of these here this morning.

Let’s begin with education. We need a trained and educated workforce to succeed in today’s evolving and interconnected world economy. It has to begin at an early age and continue for a lifetime.

Innovation depends on teaching young people to be pioneering thinkers and problem-solvers.  That’s why Lockheed Martin invests in STEM education programs from kindergarten through university. We want to motivate the next generation of scientific talent to dream big.

And, we believe the future of innovation depends on tapping the potential of the entire workforce. That’s why we work hard to reach girls, as well as boys, and young people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Within our company, we have robust talent management and development programs, with multiple opportunities for professional growth, skills training, mentoring and leadership development. Early on in my career, I participated in one of our leadership development programs. And now, as CEO, I make a point of supporting them however I can.

We invest in education, inside and outside Lockheed Martin, because we know that knowledge grows when it is shared.

Think about it this way, if you have a smartphone, and I have a smartphone, and we decide to swap, then each of us will still have exactly one smartphone... and neither of us will be any smarter!

However, if instead of smartphones, we exchange ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.  And, it’s when ideas are shared, that the sparks of innovation start to fly.

As all of you know, the Kingdom’s most valuable resource is the people who call Saudi Arabia home. And I applaud the tremendous investment you’ve been making in education and training. Lockheed Martin has seen the impact of that investment first-hand, through our education and training partnerships here in the Kingdom.

Most recently, we announced a partnership with Babson College to launch a Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Babson has long been recognized as a top entrepreneurial college in the U.S. It has a singular focus on teaching students how to be great business leaders and how to apply entrepreneurial approaches to create economic and social value.

I’m delighted that the President of Babson College, Dr. Kerry Healy, will be speaking later this afternoon about how this new center can help bridge the skills and innovation gap – and advance the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial energy and success, to drive competitiveness and growth.

We’re also very proud of the “Space Fundamentals” internship program that we started with the Arab Youth Venture Foundation. The program brings talented young people from the Middle East to intern with Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company in Denver, Colorado.

They get to meet and work with our engineers. They get classroom education on satellite operations, human space exploration and spaceflight psychology. And they also get to learn first-hand about civil space programs and operations.

It’s been rewarding for us to work with such talented students, just as it’s been a great opportunity for the students to be exposed to our industry.

One student, named Abdulaziz Saad Al Saeed, participated in the program last year. Before coming to Lockheed Martin, he told his colleagues that he had never really considered a career in the aerospace sector – not because he lacked interest, rather it was because he lacked exposure and knowledge.

Today, however, as a result of his experience, he hopes to work toward his graduate degree and pursue a career in the space industry.

Mr. Al Saeed said in his own words: “Training with Lockheed Martin far exceeded my expectations, and forever changed my goals with regard to both my personal and professional life… It was an incredible opportunity to meet – and make a lasting impression with – the top leaders in the Gulf region, which was a very proud moment for me.”

The more the private sector, government and academia can work together to educate young people like Mr. Al Saeed, and show them their potential, the more we – and they – will fuel this country’s future success.

Just as education is the foundation on which competitive culture is built, inspiration is what transforms ideas into innovations. I believe that the one thing that inspires people, more than money or prestige or celebrity, is purpose.

Our employees aren’t drawn to work at Lockheed Martin because they want to build airplanes and radars. They come to us because they want to safeguard people’s lives and make a positive impact on the world.

Giving purpose to what they do means offering rising generations the chance to design a better future. That’s what motivates and inspires me. And I’m sure it does you, too – to work on something larger than ourselves, and to make a difference for our families and the world.

Here in the Kingdom, you are well-positioned to lead on a host of key issues and to engage the workforce on efforts that will shape a better future for us all – such efforts as:

- finding new ways to grow food in the desert,

- managing precious water resources, or

- driving the energy technologies that the 21st century demands.

When people are inspired by their work, they bring the best to the job. At Lockheed Martin, we see every day what that means for innovation and performance.

In 2013, a young Saudi engineer named AlAnoud Musaad AlTurki participated in Lockheed Martin’s High-Tech Training program. Ms. AlTurki was the first woman engineer to take part in the program, which is held at our Training and Logistics Solutions facility in Orlando, Florida.

She was inspired to participate in the Lockheed Martin program by the unique opportunity to follow her dreams to better her life and to develop new technologies to make her nation, and the world, a better place.

I’d like to share her own words about the program: “This experience taught me something new every minute, whether it be about software or American culture. Everyone should experience something like this. It changes you in ways you can’t imagine.”

Ms. AlTurki was so inspired by the power of cross-cultural exchange that she returned to the program the following year. And her contributions enabled an important step forward for Lockheed Martin and our government partner here in the Kingdom.

Ms. AlTurki worked with another Saudi engineer named Fatemah AlSheikh, along with a team of Lockheed Martin programmers, to develop an Arabic “Sentiment Modeling” algorithm. This is a tool that enables users to analyze big data and turn the flood of information on the Web and social media into actionable insights.

For example here in Saudi Arabia, the tool is being employed to quickly gather and understand citizen input and opinions about key policy changes. These are powerful insights as the Kingdom continues to address the needs and desires of the Saudi people.

Today, Ms. AlTurki is the first female Premier Field Engineer at Microsoft Saudi Arabia. Her colleague, Ms. AlSheikh, is finishing up her undergraduate studies at Al Faisal University and is already employed as a software engineer at Thales.

They are both passionate about using technology to improve lives here and around the world. The experience and excitement these two remarkable women gained from working with Lockheed Martin has opened doors and jump-started their careers. That’s the power of innovation and inspiration at work!

That example of working together brings me to the third element of promoting innovation and competitiveness: collaboration. Nothing is more exciting than bringing together our collective ingenuity to solve a common challenge or achieve a shared goal.

At Lockheed Martin, we work to promote collaboration in all directions – within our workforce, across our business units, and, even with our peer competitors. In fact, one of the things that distinguishes our sector is the way companies involved in Aerospace and Defense are constantly coming together – each bringing our own unique strengths to create products that are better than any one of us could build alone.

At Lockheed Martin, we’re always looking for partnerships that benefit everyone involved. That’s why we are proud to have operations here in Riyadh to facilitate the kind of collaboration that will accelerate job growth, technology sharing and industrial partnerships in Saudi Arabia.

For example, last April, Arabsat and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin for two A-2100 communications satellites. These new satellites will provide state-of-the-art telecommunications capabilities, including television, Internet, telephone and secure communications to customers across the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

To launch the partnership, our Saudi customers visited our campus outside of Denver, Colorado. It was the first time that the entire team had met in-person, and it established the positive and collaborative relationship we needed to be successful. We brought them on a tour of our facilities, including laboratories, research facilities and the clean rooms where the spacecraft are built.

In the Aerospace and Defense industry, we’re always looking for new ways to use technology to drive collaboration, efficiency and innovation. One particular technology that the visiting team was excited to experience was our Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory – which is a virtual reality testing site that we use to validate our product designs before production begins.

In this lab, we are able to turn our engineers and technicians into avatars that can explore inside their designs. When they turn their heads, their perspective changes. When they kneel, they can get underneath the product. They can even walk through layers of their design, like it’s an MRI or CAT scan.

Thanks to innovative collaboration tools like the Immersive Lab, the project we’re developing with Arabsat will not only be one of the most powerful ever built, it will also be one of the most agile. A satellite we launch today can take advantage of tomorrow’s breakthroughs. Innovation here on Earth can be beamed up to the satellite in orbit.

The Saudi team left Colorado with a much fuller appreciation of our collective capabilities. And just as important a closer relationship with our team. This is the kind of collaboration we strive for with the partnerships we’re establishing in the Kingdom today.

In conjunction with the contract for these satellites, our company signed an agreement with TAQNIA Space Company, to create an innovative joint venture here. Together, we will explore the future design, manufacture, assembly, and integration of satellites in the Kingdom. Our joint venture will include a particular focus on developing the educational and training infrastructure to support the talented local workforce this partnership will require.

We’re really excited about collaborations like these, which bring our best talent together, and enables us to literally, and figuratively, reach for the stars. These three elements – education, inspiration, and collaboration – will drive competitiveness and enable the innovation that will yield growth, prosperity and progress.

Let me conclude with an excellent example of all these elements coming together across boundaries of geography and culture. As I mentioned earlier, Lockheed Martin has been proud to host an internship program that brings young Saudis, and other Arab students, to train with us in the United States. It is an exceptional program.

And we’ve found that we learn as much as we teach. Let’s see what some of our interns had to say about their experience in this video clip.

As you can tell, these students are absolutely hooked on space. I know that there are many more young men and women in this country who share the same tremendous potential.

I’m proud to say that Lockheed Martin will continue to work with the people of the Kingdom, as well as our partners and friends around the world, to solve complex challenges, advance scientific discovery and turn the impossible into the inevitable.

Because we know from experience that with an educated, inspired and collaborative workforce, there is no limit to success.

We are honored to partner with the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today and for many, many years to come. Thank you very much.

# # #