The Catholic University of America

Robert Stevens talk at CUA Law

Leading Business Executive Offers Valuable Insight and Conversation with CUA Law Students

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By: Richard Kisielowski, 3L at the Columbus School of Law

On September 30, 2015, Mr. Robert J. Stevens, former Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation and current Lead Director for the Monsanto Company, sat down in a less formal setting with Dean Daniel F. Attridge and an audience of aspiring CUA lawyers. The purpose of this conversation was to reflect on his experience as well as offer tips and insight to law students as they enter into practice and into leadership positions across this country, in various fields and sectors.

Mr. Stevens addressed his successes, struggles, and lessons learned in his long and exemplary career thus far. Among the key messages he relayed was the importance of one’s role as a leader in any vocation. He emphasized the major issues impacting the world today and how emerging challenges are likely to arise and further complicate the business, political, and legal landscapes, all of which will be impacted by globalization as well as political and global hurtles and realities. These issues will require attention of the next generation of leaders and will require innovative approaches and solutions.

His discussion also covered topics that ranged from his tenure at Lockheed Martin to recent corporate scandals to cybersecurity and international relations. Mr. Stevens used this time to explain that we—not just as a nation, but as a planet—will face many significant socio-political issues within the next generation, such as a myriad of global sustainability issues, which will require groundbreaking solutions by great leaders, including young attorneys.

There is still very strong need for lawyers in the corporate sector as well as elsewhere throughout society, he added. Corporate compliance and responsibility is one area on the rise that will need many more lawyers to implement valuable rules that do more than just meet minimum government legal standards, but also look out for the wellbeing of those impacted. Mr. Stevens emphasized that “doing good and being smart are not mutually exclusive things,” in terms of ensuring good practices are achieved.

Mr. Stevens stressed that lawyers are valuable assets, both to corporations and to its clients—without lawyers, “our company would stop tomorrow.” He explained that a lawyer needs to be engaged and truly know their clients, clearly communicate and articulate his or her findings, be objective, and avoid unnecessary legalese, which most people cannot easily follow. Mr. Stevens added that lawyers need to make their work valuable by showing acumen and insightfulness, but also be solutions-driven, as most clients need this from their attorneys. These efforts can start from the get-go; as new members of an organization, he said, “find your voice” to raise issues of importance that might not yet be realized by the current higher-ups.

To view the talk on the Law School video channel, click here.

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A brief bio of Robert J. Stevens

Robert J. Stevens was the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation, between 2004 through 2013. Previously, he held a variety of increasingly responsible executive positions with the Corporation, including Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and head of Strategic Planning through a career that has included experience in program management, finance, manufacturing, and operations.

Mr. Stevens also currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Steel Corporation, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, and the Atlantic Council. He is a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics, and he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In 2001, Mr. Stevens served on President George W. Bush’s Commission to Examine the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. In January 2012, he was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and he currently serves as Chairman of the Director of National Intelligence Senior Advisory Group.

Robert J. Stevens is a summa cum laude graduate of Slippery Rock University. He earned a master's degree in engineering and management from the Polytechnic University of New York and earned a master's degree in business from Columbia University. He is also a graduate of the Department of Defense Systems Management College Program Management course and previously served in the United States Marine Corps.