Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense firm, announced its incoming chief executive resigned after an ethics investigation confirmed he’d had a “close personal relationship” with a subordinate employee.
Christopher E. Kubasik, 51, was set to take the top job of the Bethesda, Md., aerospace giant Jan. 1. Instead that role is to be filled by 58-year-old Marillyn A. Hewson, who would become Lockheed’s first-ever female CEO.
Lockheed’s board of directors also named Hewson acting president and chief operating officer in order to fill the jobs that once belonged to Kubasik. Hewson will retain her role as executive vice president of Lockheed’s electronic systems unit until the end of this year.
“While I am deeply disappointed and saddened by Chris’ actions, which have been inconsistent with our values and standards, our swift response to his improper conduct demonstrates our unyielding commitment to holding every employee accountable for their actions,” Lockheed’s current CEO and chairman, Robert J. Stevens, said in a statement.
Stevens announced in April that he would step down as chief executive of Lockheed, which employs 120,000 people worldwide and makes fighter jets, navy warships and spy satellites. The company posted net sales of $46.5 billion in 2011.
On Friday, Lockheed said Stevens would stay on as executive chairman, effective Jan. 1. In that role, he will work with Hewson “to facilitate a smooth CEO transition.”
Hewson joined Lockheed Martin in 1983 and has served as executive vice president of the Electronic Systems business area since January 2010.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in economics from the University of Alabama. She also attended the Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School executive development programs.
The news of Kubasik’s resignation came the same day as CIA Director David Petraeus suddenly resigned his own post because of an extramarital affair. Kubasik is also married.
Jennifer Whitlow, a Lockheed spokeswoman, said the board of directors came to a conclusion Friday after an employee came forward in October and set the ethics investigation in motion.
Lockheed hired independent investigators to examine the allegations. On Friday, the board voted to promote Hewson.