As one of this month’s Game Changers, Glenn Copeland offers up some sage advice that he has accumulated along his career path at Lockheed Martin as well as giving an inside look at the innovation that drives the storied global security and aerospace giant. Mr. Copeland was appointed General Manager of Lockheed Martin Canada Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) in January 2022 where he leads nearly 900 employees across Canada. He is also a former Senior Naval Officer where he lead the RCN’s Fleet Readiness and Training Team among other impressive roles, garnering extensive operational sea time. Glenn is also a past president of the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Alliance Aerospace and Defence Association. 

How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?

Our vision for the future. For decades, our customers have counted on us to help them overcome their most complex challenges and stay ahead of emerging threats.  That may sound trite, but we must be leaders in the “what if we could make this happen…” game by providing the most technologically advanced solutions that were never specified. To align with the priorities of our customers in the decades ahead, we have to think beyond what they are envisioning and offer those solutions.  Collectively, inside Lockheed Martin, it’s all part of what we deem the concept of deterrence called 21st Century Security. 

What are the biggest impediments to innovation in your industry sector?

I think we continue to work inside a system that does not provide the agility necessary to get products to market at the pace of our adversaries.  We are seeing that shift in mindset necessary to help drive toward that agility and certainly everyone is motivated to deliver but we need to evolve our engineering and acceptance practices with greater efficiency.  Simply put, both industry and the customer must be in lockstep in finding ways to reduce time to market for key capabilities that are needed now.  

More broadly, winning the race for talent have never been more imperative. While that statement Is being worn into the ground daily it is no less relevant.  The lines between the defence industry and commercial industry have never been more blurred. What was once the protected domain of defence specific skillsets is now applicable in multiple, broad-based sectors.

How has innovation become ingrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?

Innovation roadmaps are grand plans to help you get to be market leaders, but innovation can come from anywhere.  It’s about having the mindset and collective understanding that great ideas can rise to the surface from just about any corner inside your organization. Whether it’s process efficiencies or product enhancements, some of our best ideas have come from the grass roots development teams.

Aligning to our 21st Century Security vision, we can accelerate the adoption of innovative networking and related technologies into our product and service lines, such as CMS 330 while enhancing the performance and value of our major customer platforms.  We will partner with defense and commercial companies to find and develop future systems to bring cutting-edge technology to the modern, highly contested battlespace.

Because our portfolio spans every branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, we have unique insights into the challenges and opportunities to enable optimal battlespace awareness by providing unmatched command and control solutions across land, sea, air, space and cyber. 

What technologies, business models and trends will drive the biggest changes to your industry over the next two years?

All areas of warfare along with the associated information sharing and control are now inextricably linked. Stop thinking about developing single use technologies or anything that can’t be applied linked to the greater network. Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) is the term that will be with us for a while. Today’s challenges to global security aren’t just changing – they’re accelerating faster than ever before. Our adversaries are highly adaptive and confronting us from every domain across air, sea, space, land and cyber.

The aircraft, ships and ground vehicles our Canadian Forces operate today collect an abundance of information. Processing and analyzing that amount of data is a challenge, especially when you factor in multiple levels of security at which those systems operate. By synchronizing major systems and crucial data sources with revolutionary simplicity, JADO provides a complete picture of the battlespace and empowers our military to quickly make decisions that drive action.

How did you start out in this industry and how has it brought you here today?  

When I transitioned out of uniform and into the defence industry in 2009 it was something I never saw coming.  Halifax Class Modernization was just kicking off and I was offered a program manager role in training systems development. It was not an easy decision to leave the Forces but that inner voice kept telling me, “it’s time.” 2009 was one of the most challenging times for the company and we had many difficult phases on that program but the memory that sticks out most from my transition are the people who met me at the door that first morning, those who welcomed me in and mentored me and those in the teams that supported me from the outset. They are some of the brightest and best people I’ve ever met and I am pleased to say they are leaders in their own right inside LM today. To this day, it’s the people that motivate me.

Over the years, it just seemed that opportunity was everywhere, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been provided a range of responsibilities from my leadership that has groomed me and helped me get to my current role. The experience of working as part of a massive capture like the Canadian Surface Combatant program is a once in a lifetime venture.

What is your role at the organization today?

I was appointed to the role of General Manager for LM Canada Rotary and Mission Systems in January 2022 and am extremely proud to be leading a talented organization of almost 900 people.

What was your most challenging moment?

LOL!  There have been many.  I’ve lost track of the number of times I woke up staring at the ceiling at 3 AM thinking “how are we going to solve this?” But if I had to narrow it down, it might be having to brief the Corporation’s Chief Executive, in Washington right after we won CSC. Months of preparation for a 12-slide presentation and I will tell folks, at that level, every word matters. Never underestimate the importance of solid preparations.

What was your a-ha moment or epiphany that you will think will resonate most with our readers, tell us that story.

I had such a habit of feeling solely responsible for multiple deliverables on programs or in capture planning that I would merely float-test ideas (excuse the Navy expression) by people and then run off and plan the execution by myself. I learned the hard way how important “buy-in” was from those whose support you need and that there are a wealth of sound minds willing to reason through ideas with you to shape the best outcome for all.

What is the one thing that had you most fired up today?

This is an unprecedented time of opportunity, domestically and globally. Canadian defence industry has never been better positioned to grow and fascinating advances in technology development are burgeoning from some of the smallest companies.  The fact that the globe seems so small is both good and bad but the good is that it connects you to people and those potential industry partners in ways never seen and, if you remain open minded to collaboration, you will position yourself incredibly well.

What is the best advice you received?

We all have blind spots, but you will never see clearly in 360 degrees without help. Having the feedback to help me recognize what those are and then to be provided the guidance on how to build teams that allow you to see through those is some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

What is a habit that contributes to your success?

This may sound obvious but make sure the decisions you make are never about you, ever.  They are about what is best for everyone around you and what is necessary to drive the best outcome for business.  Stand back and let others take credit.  You will be rewarded with a highly charged and motivated team that think of themselves as leaders in much the same way.

What is your parting piece of advice?

Never take yourself too seriously and learn how to roll with the punches.  In business, you can’t control the dynamics as much as you’d like to believe you can. You have to figure out how to make the most out of what is dealt to you and be patient as you work through challenges. Even unintended outcomes bear fruit, just know where to look.

What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?

Tough question. I would have to give it to the collective minds that are preparing to explore space.  This is a global initiative and there are many organizations and academics that are working for the common good in this area. Global research and engineering is allowing for us all to stand on the edge of the next great age of discovery.  Developments that include the James Webb Space telescope and the plans for a crewed mission to Mars underscore these phenomenal ambitions.