Monday, February 18, 2013

Rethinking What’s Possible

An early assignment at Lockheed influenced my career
by William M.

After starting at Univac in St. Paul, Minnesota, I accepted a position at Lockheed Missiles and Space in Sunnyvale, California. I was put in charge of the generation of all acceptance test procedures for the Polaris A3X missile. After getting it on schedule, I was asked to take an assignment to achieve an eight-hour acceptance test for the missile warhead. (It was taking up to eight weeks at that time). I thought the assignment was impossible, but proceeded to attempt the task. To my surprise with procedural changes, some new test fixtures and facility modifications, we did realize an eight-hour acceptance test.

I then returned to Minnesota and worked for Sperry Corporation. That Lockheed assignment influenced my approach to every task in my subsequent career. I was repeatedly assigned major programs that were in trouble (seemingly impossible efforts) and brought them all to successful conclusions. To top it all off, Lockheed Martin purchased the St. Paul division I was working for, so I ended up retiring from Lockheed Martin. Appropriate, since that one Sunnyvale assignment really influenced my approach to every assignment.