She may be a leading director of business development in Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems & Global Solutions unit, but her title hardly begins to describe all that she does at the company. As a leader at Lockheed Martin, Barbara Slayton believes it is essential to inspire and mentor other woman in technology so they can develop new skills and personal opportunities.
When Barbara started her career, she found there were few women in the engineering field, business development or the aerospace industry. “I was looking for mentors and had to be creative to find role models whose choices fit the ones I wanted to make for my career and family,” she says.
Barbara sought mentors based on the specific skills she wanted to develop. “Always choose mentors based on a key area you identified for professional development and make sure you can have an honest conversation with them about their opinion and advice,” she says. “I always ask my mentors to explain what works for them and what helps them thrive.”
In working with her women mentors at Lockheed Martin, Barbara discovered a common theme that is now her favorite piece of advice: “Balance your approach to the short and long-term by always doing the best job you can at the job you have now. Remember that you set the course for your own career; you can always choose to change again and again based on what works best for you.”
Her personal motto is simple: “Building a successful career is all about choices and balance.” Today, she balances her own success, which many mentors have contributed to, with serving as an inspiring mentor to others—for over a decade now.
Barbara serves as chair of a women’s networking group at Lockheed Martin, is on the board of Women in Aerospace and volunteers as a STEM tutor at a local school. Her goal is to make technology accessible. “I look for ways to give back to my community because I had the benefit of being helped along the way. Now it is a pleasure to help a new generation of dedicated, talented women.”
Recently, during a presentation to a group of undergraduate women pursuing business degrees, Barbara shared five tips for a visionary career:
- A positive attitude is critical to collaborating with a team.
- Intelligence and hard work are necessary, but not sufficient for success; you have to work on building relationships and networking as well.
- We tend to underrate ourselves, so when career decisions arise ask yourself what is the best that could happen and what’s the worst that could happen. If you can live with the worst case scenario, take the risk.
- People may only remember your most recent assignments, so don’t be afraid of highlighting the breadth and depth of your experience when seeking new opportunities.
- Think of your career in cycles. Your priorities may shift throughout the years, so rely on your support system to get through challenging times.
Barbara’s secret to success in her career and in mentoring other women in technology? “Be true to yourself.”
“I have found that when you embrace being your authentic self at work, you can dedicate yourself to the challenges of your job rather than attempting to maintain a persona,” she says. “After you do that you’ll find yourself becoming someone else’s role model, just by being yourself.”