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Lockheed Martin VP Kimberly Ramalho: “I would like to ignite a movement that empowers people to wake up each day feeling good about who they are and have a sense of belonging”

I would like to ignite a movement that empowers people to wake up each day feeling good about who they are and have a sense of belonging. I believe every human has the ability to contribute. I want to inspire compassion and understanding, and challenge people to view the world through different lenses — even individual lenses. […]


I would like to ignite a movement that empowers people to wake up each day feeling good about who they are and have a sense of belonging. I believe every human has the ability to contribute. I want to inspire compassion and understanding, and challenge people to view the world through different lenses — even individual lenses. After all, humans are unique. We must recognize that every person is different, and diversity is powerful. I want to look beyond labels, boxes and generalizations, and find ways to bring people together. With more than 7 billion people living on our planet, I want a movement that recognizes each and every one of us for who we are. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Judge me by the content of my character, not by the color of my skin.”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimberly Ramalho, vice president of Communications and Public Affairs for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. Kimberly leads by example when it comes to the intersection of family and career. She is the powerhouse mother of twins and a strategic communications executive with 25 years’ experience. Starting her career in finance, she made the leap to strategic communications by reinventing herself and going for what she wanted. Kimberly is credited with developing programs that generate a high return on investment, motivate employees and increase brand awareness. All while continuing to be a present and engaged wife and mother.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s hard to describe my career as a linear path. Looking back, it’s been an adventure with a few twists and turns including changing my profession, exploring different industries and taking time away to be a full-time mom.

My career began humbly. I didn’t aspire to advance; I wanted to pay my bills! My first professional job began before I graduated high school and I stayed with that company for 8 years. One day I realized I wanted to do something more. I did want a career. And my journey began.

I was very interested in making a change from finance to community affairs (similar to government affairs in some organizations), so I asked for a meeting with the department head and she said yes! Linda Piccotti took the time to talk to me about my aspirations and provide the guidance — and encouragement — to take the right steps toward achieving my goals.

At 25-years-old, I requested and was granted a one-year educational leave of absence with the goal of parlaying my associates of business degree into a more relevant degree. Since then I have worked across various industries, companies and agencies, and have had the privilege of leading some amazing teams.

With each new opportunity, I ask myself “how can I make the most of this experience?” Even when I decided to take a year off from my career to be with my newborn twins, I sought out ways to use and grow my skills. I volunteered with local non-profits and joined boards of organizations with missions I cared about. It’s important to never stop learning and pushing yourself to be your absolute best.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Mistakes, while terrifying in the moment, are often some of life’s best learning moments. I’ve made plenty of mistakes of varying sizes throughout my career.

One of the more memorable occurred while I was working for Siemens. I was relatively new in my role, managing the press office for its medical division. Before the conveniences of email we wrote, printed and mailed releases. Believe that! My first task was to promote a new advancement in medical imaging technology, so I did what any pro would do back in those days: a mailing! I felt so accomplished when I finished — until a few days later when a significant number of the press releases were returned as undeliverable. In that moment of confusion, I realized the person who had the role before me did not maintain the media list. Coming from an agency this was unheard of — it’s a cardinal rule to continuously update your lists! I was mortified, but it led to a more favorable outcome. I put the returned mail aside and picked up the phone. I called the various reporters to confirm and update their information and introduce myself. Those phone calls were the beginning of many long-term, professional relationships. And over the years, those relationships helped me secure positive coverage, including getting my former CEO on the cover of a prominent magazine.

Today I’m grateful for that experience. It taught me the importance of building strong relationships and to evaluate every task with a strategic mindset.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Lockheed Martin is an incredible company. For more than 100 years, its spirit of innovation has led the world in scientific advancements and cutting-edge technology. But for me, it’s all about our people and culture. It’s unlike any place I’ve worked before.

We’re driven by a sense of purpose and passion to shape the future and solve the world’s most difficult challenges. And we are connected by a culture that brings people together. We created an environment that truly wants to hear your ideas, thrives on diverse thinking, and values the unique perspectives and experiences of everyone.

It’s no small feat, especially when you have more than 100,000 employees working around the globe. But I really appreciate the sense of community we have, and it’s reflected at all levels of our company. Our President, Chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson was recently named by Fortune as the most powerful woman in business — a well-deserved title given all her accomplishments. She’s an amazing leader, and I admire how she takes the time to get to know the people on her team, including me.

Shortly after I joined the company I saw Marillyn at an event. She walked right over to me, asked how I was doing and what I was working on. I was so surprised that after only one introduction she remembered my name and took the time to talk. This illustrates our culture so well — the importance we place on people, relationships and being valued. That sense of belonging, coupled with the important work we do aligned with our customers’ missions, is what excites me most about coming to work each day.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re always working new projects. It’s one of my favorite things about Lockheed Martin. From rescue helicopters to cyber systems that protect our nation’s most important networks, our products are designed to keep people safe and improve lives. As vice president of communications and public affairs, one of my areas of responsibility is continuously working to keep our employees energized and engaged in the business.

My team recently launched a new internal initiative to help our employees understand how their work fuels company success. No matter the level, role or how many years someone has worked, it takes the entire team to reach our business goals. The theme Results Start with Me empowers every employee to get involved with the business and contribute to our success. The results have been tremendous, with continuous improvement each quarter.

I’m proud of the work we’re doing because not all companies invest significant resources in improving the culture of their workplace. Everyone wants to feel included and understand how their work makes a difference. I’m excited to lead the team helping our employees feel more connected to the business and realize their work is part of something much, much larger.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

One of the hardest parts about being a leader is building your credibility. Your credibility helps you be a more effective leader with the people on your team, your peers and the people in your reporting chain. One of the best ways to build your credibility is taking (and keeping) your seat at the table. And I mean that literally: take your seat at the table! Of course, you must consistently demonstrate business acumen, deliver on promises and contribute to the conversation with meaningful input. This isn’t always easy, especially when women are underrepresented in corporate leadership roles. Always remember the value you bring in your area of expertise and that your perspectives are important. The more credible we are, the more that translates to the credibility of our teams.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

One of the most important elements is mutual trust and respect. Trust fuels high performance and sparks innovation. But trust isn’t easily earned (though it is easily lost). It takes an investment of time to build strong relationships, and learn the styles, abilities and motivations of each person on your team. Be authentic and credible. This requires you to be present and openly share what is working well with the team and seek feedback on areas to improve. Once you have mutual trust, continuously work to protect it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I already mentioned one mentor, but I’ve had many who have guided me toward the leader — and person — I am today. Some took a chance on me and gave me the promotion or a foot in the door; others told me I was ready to do something on my own; many more gave advice. Take it all in. Observe. Listen. Ask questions. Learn. Humble yourself every so often. I always say you can learn just as much from someone doing it right as doing it wrong.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am driven by a passion to help others and give back. One of the best parts about my job is managing our community relations and philanthropic activities. I’m so proud of the role Lockheed Martin takes in helping to strengthen the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.

Just recently we had the very special privilege of partnering with Make-A-Wish® to give William Beyer, a six-year-old boy with a rare heart defect, a “Pilot for a Day” experience at our Stratford, Connecticut, site. William was provided a perfectly fitted, personalized flight suit, a flight jacket with all the proper badges and a shiny pair of aviator sunglasses before taking to the sky in a Sikorsky S-76® helicopter with his parents and younger brother. I am so grateful for the support we were able to provide William and his family.

Collectively, Lockheed Martin invests more than $26 million worldwide to nonprofit organizations, and our employees volunteer thousands of hours and donate more than $11 million annually to various organizations through workplace-giving campaigns and employee-focused programs.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Experience” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. People matter. People are the most important asset any leader has in their organization. Take time to get to know your people — what drives them, what scares them, what their dreams are. It will help you connect and gain their trust and support.

2. Reputation means everything. Building a good reputation as an honest, results-oriented, passionate leader who empowers teams has to be a top priority. Your reputation, whether good or bad, will spread, so make sure you work on this daily.

3. Learn from the past. Don’t be afraid to look back. Your past performance does inform future performance. You will make mistakes. Just make sure to reflect on these mistakes and learn from them.

4. Be authentic. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Being an influential leader is contingent on being who you truly are, and to speak and act from a place that is genuinely your own. Strong leadership is about the ability to affect people and make an impact on their lives.

5. Be a good listener. An active listener, a sincere listener. Building an exceptional team and producing tangible results means you’ve heard what matters to everyone on your team, your clients and the company.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to ignite a movement that empowers people to wake up each day feeling good about who they are and have a sense of belonging. I believe every human has the ability to contribute. I want to inspire compassion and understanding, and challenge people to view the world through different lenses — even individual lenses. After all, humans are unique. We must recognize that every person is different, and diversity is powerful. I want to look beyond labels, boxes and generalizations, and find ways to bring people together. With more than 7 billion people living on our planet, I want a movement that recognizes each and every one of us for who we are. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Judge me by the content of my character, not by the color of my skin.”

11. Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and share how it was relevant to you in your life?

Growing up, my mom would always encourage me to make my own choices. “You decide,” she’d say when I would ask her what I should do in a conflicting situation. From deciding to play softball or continue piano lessons to career opportunities after college, my mom encouraged me to think critically about what I wanted and to make own my decisions. She believed it was more important for me to own my decision and if it didn’t work out, to learn from it. You can seek guidance and input from people you trust, but at the end of the day, you are responsible for your decisions. Don’t ever remove yourself from decisions that impact your career, team or life outside of work. You decide!

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

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