The focus of these case studies is the direct, common-sense approach that a Lockheed Martin manager took to retain a valued employee who thought he would need to retire as his disability progressed. The manager’s rejection of the employee’s plan to retire and subsequent advocacy for assistive technology and adaptive equipment resulted in the employee choosing to remain on the job and continue to perform at a high level. It was a win-win for the employee and Lockheed Martin.
Case Study: A Small Investment Yields Big Gains
Some time ago, Frank Lombardi thought his career at Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMC) was over. A progressively debilitating neurological condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) was starting to negatively affect his ability to perform certain physical tasks in his 13-year role as a senior-level security professional. Lombardi was diagnosed with CMT in 1996, not long after the birth of his daughter, Elena. The condition is most often diagnosed in adolescence, but the appearance of symptoms is frequently delayed until adulthood.
While doctors told Lombardi that his condition could eventually take away his ability to walk, that knowledge only encouraged him to do more- and to encourage others to do the same. “I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me,” he said. “Having a chronic, progressive illness like CMT makes every minute of every day a challenge. However, in order to survive it, I have reconditioned myself to deal with my progressive loss of ability by celebrating my remaining abilities.”
Reluctantly, Lombardi left his security leadership position for a less strenuous personnel security job. Eventually, he made his way to the Regional Recruiting Center (RRC) for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area, interviewing candidates for security clearance eligibility. As his condition progressed, Lombardi began to experience severe levels of pain and fatigue that affected his ability to remain on his feet for extended periods of time. After considering all his options, he figured early retirement was his only choice. But the RRC Operations Manager at the time had other ideas.
“When I went to my manager and said ‘I think I’m going to have to retire,’ he said ‘What would it take to keep you here?’ Those were some of the best words I had ever heard.”
The RRC Operations Manager worked with his chain of command and Frank’s chain of command to purchase a scooter to help keep him off his feet while he continued to perform. “Frank’s dedication and technical expertise are unmatched. He has a great sense of humor and is an inspiration to his co-workers because of the dignity and professionalism with which he performs his duties,” said Operations Manager. “The ‘fix’ to enable Frank to remain a productive employee was easy, and to me, didn’t really amount to any specific accommodation – just the right, common-sense thing to do. “Lombardi points to his conversation with the Operations Manager as a major turning point in his life, both professionally and personally.
“Providing a scooter for Frank was not only the right thing to do – it also gave the RRC the ability to accommodate, if needed, others that are similarly situated,” said, the Director of Staffing Operations. “It was a win-win for Frank and Lockheed Martin.” However, this was not the only accommodation that Lockheed Martin has provided to ensure Frank could continue to be a productive employee. Lockheed Martin provided Frank a special mouse for his desktop, reconfigured his desk to ensure he could park his scooter at the table where he does interviews, and gave him a headset to help conduct telephone interviews. These accommodations assist Frank daily and ensure he appreciates our company’s ability to accommodate him.
Lockheed Martin Corporate policy requires leaders to provide reasonable accommodations or workplace modifications to employees who need assistance due to a disability or impairment. Lombardi believes the policy simply formalizes and reinforces an attitude that many Lockheed Martin leaders and employees already hold.
“The fact that they provided me with that kind of support – they encouraged me, believed in me, and trusted me -really turned things around for me,” Lombardi said. “The support added new energy to my life.” It’s within these moments that a person can decide to stay and fight or take flight. Frank decided to fight, and his resilience has become an inspiration to everyone to never quit and continue to fight.
Outside Lockheed Martin, music is an important part of Frank’s life. He plays the drums and provides vocals for a classic rock band called Mid-Life Crisis, which plays frequent fundraisers for charitable events, including a recent concert that raised $12,000 to support local military veterans returning home from the Middle East. “I think it’s so important that people live outside themselves, that they take a look at their communities and get involved if they’re not doing so already,” Frank says. “It is often said that it only takes one person to make a difference.” The Operations Managers action not only made a difference with Frank but with everyone connected to Frank – his family, friends, and co-workers. We have all benefited from the action of one person.
Case Study: Customizing the Accommodations in Partnerships across the Enterprise Results in Win-Win for All
One hundred years ago, on August 16, 1912, Glenn L. Martin established the Glenn L. Martin Company in Los Angeles, California. He started the company after building his first plane in a rented church, where he took a leap of faith on his risky but innovative new aircraft design at the urging of none other than Orville Wright. Four months later and four hundred miles away, on December 19, 1912, Allan and Malcolm Lockheed founded the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company, later renamed the Lockheed Aircraft Company. Talented mechanics, they set up shop out of a garage, constructing seaplanes that would shatter speed and distance records for overwater flights.
The Lockheed Martin Corporation today is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. It is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The gift that Martin and the Lockheed brothers shared was a unique ability to look past the obstacles of today to the promise of a brighter tomorrow. And they knew – as Lockheed Martin has known for 100 years – that innovation, performance, and purpose were the keys to accelerating that tomorrow.
Carey Cox was always determined to work in the Aerospace industry. After he earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Mississippi State in 1992, Carey began work in the research field. He then joined the staff at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA, as a professor in Mechanical Engineering. But he never quite felt full job satisfaction. “I loved the teaching part of the job-if it was just that, I’d have stayed,” said Carey. “But it’s like working two jobs, with the research and everything that goes into it.” So when he saw a position available at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Texas, he applied. Carey joined the Aeronautics team as a Propulsion and Computation Fluid Dynamics engineer in 2005.
In October 2009, Carey was in an automobile accident that left him with very limited use of his limbs. No longer able to stand or walk and with limited use of his arms and hands, Carey’s return to work at the Aeronautics facility would be challenging. The Aeronautics Fort Worth campus is spread out over more than 600 acres and has in excess of seven million square feet of building space. Carey’s desk is located in a remote area in the back of a building that is connected to the main plant factory. The building houses hundreds of cubicles in several dozen areas. Carey began working from home in March of 2010 to ease his transition back to the facility. Lockheed Martin arranged for an entire workstation to be installed in Carey’s home, because a laptop did not have enough storage space or capacity to perform the complex tasks needed for his job.
In June 2010, Carey was able to begin returning to the facility. “The first thing they had to do was find somewhere for me to park,” Carey recalls. Given the size of the buildings and parking lots, most employees park at least 100 yards away from the building entrance, and then have to walk an additional distance to get to their desk. The Aeronautics work accommodations team, partnering with the Facilities and Security Departments, created a special parking spot for Carey and installed automatic doors so he would have easy access to his desk. Carey says he truly appreciates what the company and his co-workers have done to ensure he can continue to contribute and perform the work he loves. “It’s great to work with people that are so helpful,” said Carey. “It really makes me feel good to know that I’m a valuable part of the team, and to see the extra efforts put in for me.” Carey’s co-workers, on their own time, refinished the floors in Carey’s home so that he could more easily move about there.
Carey represents the Lockheed Martin workforce – employees who are optimizing opportunities and making a difference. Through a number of company-wide initiatives, one of which is providing accommodations like those mentioned above, the corporation works to provide a fully inclusive workplace for all applicants and employees, including people with disabilities, which results in continued value for its customers. It is about creating an environment that welcomes, respects and leverages employees’ individual differences as a competitive strength – an environment where all employees, like Carey, are passionate about their jobs and able to fully contribute.