Answering The Call

If there’s one moment that sums up Linda Gooden’s commitment to her work, it came on the evening of 9-11. After terrorists flew a plane into the Pentagon, Gooden led a staff of 200 people back into the smoldering building to ensure that vital data and communications links were operating. “There wasn’t a lot of introspection,” Gooden says. “We just acted and did what needed to be done to bring the Pentagon networks back online.”

As president of Lockheed Martin Information Technology, Gooden oversees technology integration and information technology services to the federal government. Formed in 2001, the same year Gooden became its president, LMIT won several contracts to provide technology and personnel to manage and operate government computer and network systems.

“Part of my job is staying abreast of the technology, and keeping up with the trends in the customer’s market,” Gooden says. “It’s my job to understand the overall framework of information technology, from the requirement stage and the architectural phase all the way through to implementation.”

Among the databases LMIT helped build are the Social Security Administration’s retiree and disability payments system and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ main data center.

But while Gooden’s division has successfully managed technology at civilian agencies, LMIT’s work with the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and the FBI have become vital in assisting in a post 9-11 world. “9-11 emphasized the importance of timely access to information technology during a crisis,” Gooden says.

With the country at war and a shift toward heightened internal security, Gooden’s department is delivering on its promise to provide advanced technology to improve government efficiency, while giving agencies the tools to share information in a secure environment.

On the home front, LMIT is implementing a technology security system to protect the FBI against cyber attacks. It is also assisting Homeland Security in merging administrative and financial systems from 22 agencies.

According to Gooden, choosing the right hardware to store so much data and the right security software to protect it presents many challenges. “The challenge is to ensure the systems provide accurate, timely information that is accessible to the right people at the right time and in the right format, yet secure from unauthorized intruders,” Gooden says.

Michael Camardo, LMIT’s executive vice president, says the company has seen significant changes since Gooden landed her first contract with a federal agency almost a decade ago. “Linda has grown Lockheed Martin Information Technology from a small business to almost $2 billion in 2004, and we project that growth will continue.”

With employee growth increasing from 3,800 in 2001 to 11,000 this year, Gooden has adjusted to the demands on her time. Yet the dramatic increase in her responsibilities has not shifted her focus away from her clients. “I spend a lot more time with customers,” she says, “working on strategies that will prepare the groundwork for our next growth spurt.”