College of Business Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Whitlow

Jennifer Whitlow
Jennifer Whitlow was appointed to her current position of Senior Vice President of Communications at Lockheed Martin in 2013 and previously served as the Corporation’s vice president of Media Relations and chief spokesperson. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin in 2010, Whitlow held a number of roles of increasing responsibilities with United Technologies Corporation and Cessna Aircraft Company. 

What attracted you to Embry-Riddle?

Since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated with airplanes, so when I began to research University aviation programs, Embry-Riddle stood out from all the others. I remember reading a review that called it the “Harvard of the Sky”… and I thought, “who doesn’t want to go an Ivy League-level school for airplanes!” While my parents weren’t as convinced as I was, once I was accepted to ERAU, all the other schools didn’t stand a chance. I enrolled in Embry-Riddle sight unseen, that’s how confident I was in my choice. 

What do you think sets your Embry-Riddle business education apart from other schools?

The ERAU business program gave me the unique opportunity to build technical knowledge and expertise in the aerospace industry while also developing marketable business skills that could be applied to a wide range of career choices. Throughout my career, my education has given me credibility with my engineering and program management colleagues because they know I speak their language and understand the technical nuances of our products and technologies.   

How did Embry-Riddle prepare you for continued studies at Carnegie Mellon? And what prompted you to return to school after spending time in the workforce?

My education at ERAU was not really a factor in preparing me for my MBA at Carnegie Mellon – too much time had passed since I completed my undergraduate degree. I made the decision to return to school for my MBA to support my career aspirations. As I ascended to more senior positions in my career field, I recognized that having a graduate degree would strengthen my business acumen and better prepare me for a senior leadership role at my company. 

How did you become interested in aviation and aerospace?

I was first exposed to aviation through the movies as a young girl. Once my initial interest was sparked, I began to seek out ways to learn more. In those days, there was no internet (wow, do I feel old!) so my dad would take me to airshows and I would check out books in the library. My parents assumed it was a phase but my interest endured through high school and was the focus of my college pursuits. As a final test of my commitment, my parents signed me up for a three week Intro to Aviation class at Indiana State University the summer before my senior year of high school. That experience, and the opportunity to meet other students who loved aviation as much as I did, cemented my plan to pursue a career in the aerospace industry.

Can you describe your current work at Lockheed Martin? What do you enjoy most about your job?

As the Senior Vice President of Communications for Lockheed Martin, I am responsible for leading a team of more than 500 professionals who tell the story of the people and products of our company. Whether through media outreach, marketing, community engagements or employee communications, every day our team is helping to excite our employees, inform our customers and support our communities around the world. 

There are so many things I love about my job… the brilliant people, the daily problem solving, the creative ideas, the commitment to excellence and integrity, and telling the story of the cool innovations we’ve invented or are working on. However, what I love most about Lockheed Martin is our strong sense of patriotism and our commitment to ensuring the men and women who fight for our and our allies’ freedoms around the world have the very best capabilities to keep our families safe. Telling that story makes me feel like, in some small way, I am contributing to something important and meaningful.  

What advice can you offer to current and prospective Embry-Riddle business students?

I strongly encourage the current and prospective students of Embry-Riddle to find your passion and pursue it with focus and determination. The aerospace industry is like no other… exciting, challenging and rewarding… and the diversity of jobs means there’s something for anyone who wants to be a part of it.