Debbie McCarty, Lockheed Martin

If a straight shooter is what you need, look no further than Debbie McCarty. The vice president of Space Programs at Lockheed Martin in Colorado Springs specializes in direct communications between her customers and the Lockheed-Martin engineers charged with filling their orders. McCarty applies that directness in all facets of her life, and it’s worked quite well for her.

McCarty was born and raised in Valparaiso, Ind. — “basketball country,” she says, where she was a very accurate shooter on the hardwood court. She played the three-guard position in high school and college, and loved to have the ball in her hands with the game on the line.

A graduate of Valparaiso University, she stayed close to home till age 28. Then, encouraged by her two older sisters to enlist in the U.S. Air Force as they had, she did so — and found her true calling.

She moved up quickly, serving as a missile launch control officer following Officers Training School.

She was accepted into the Top Hand Professional Development Program, This elite group is the missile program’s version of the Top Gun program made famous by Tom Cruise. Again, McCarty proved to be an outstanding candidate. “What I really learned in Top Hand was commitment to quality work and to my team,” she says.

In 2000, she decided to scale back her Air Force duties and enter private industry.

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The family moved to Colorado Springs in 2004 when Debbie was hired by Lockheed-Martin. At Lockheed, she says her primary job is to connect her customers and her engineers — essentially, to be the straight-shooter who communicates exactly what it is the customer wants. “I understand the customer’s environment. I communicate that to our engineers. I make sure our team is clear about the order.”

She’s active in organizations that serve military families, and enjoys mentoring relationships both within the corporation and outside of it. Naturally, she gives and seeks direct advice in that role. And although she finally gave up basketball (“too many split lips”), she’s taken up golf — another sport where straight shooting is essential to success.