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Friday, April 25, 2014

Shan Cooper: Woman of Integrity

(From Cooper’s appearance at Aflac’s “Women of Integrity” Luncheon, April 24, 2014, Marietta Country Club. Digital images by Ilea Johnson)

At first glance, Shan Cooper, 45, appears wiser than her years, possibly because of the heavy weight of her responsibilities as VP of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and GM of the company’s 6,300 employees in Marietta, Ga. 

Cooper is not a conservative celebrity but assumes that onlookers are watching where she eats, whether she’s on the company’s corporate jet headed to Capitol Hill, or if she curses when challenged. She's very conscious of image and purpose.

First and foremost, Cooper is a mom, a wife, a mentor, and a well trained businesswoman. She can get down and dirty, crawling through aircraft in the factory, or hold her own in a board meeting. These are perceptions of one virtuous Black woman working in today’s corporate “old boys” club.

“My natural leadership style comes from my dad,” Cooper said of her Pentecostal minister father. In the Anniston, Ala. household where she grew up, lying was forbidden and respect for people from diverse backgrounds was laudable.

Lessons learned from her parents: Be whatever you want to be while affirming the goodness in other people where ever you go.

Formerly Lockheed’s VP of Human Resources, Cooper said she looks for certain qualities when deciding to invest in human talent. Future employees must measure up to her standards of integrity, good judgment, ambition, drive, and creativity.

She says she needs people on her team that will tell her when "the baby is ugly." Two of her mentors were Connie Fisher and David Logan. Her strong arm is her administrative assistant.

Cooper often wrestles with decisions requiring employee layoffs and how cutting back can affect families. One of her worst days was July 8, 2003 when a worker at the Meridian, Miss. plant shot 14 of his co-workers with a shotgun, killing six of them before committing suicide. Her assignment: help with funeral arrangements; comfort the injured at the hospital; hold the team together.

Cooper is a woman of faith who starts each morning with prayer and ends each night with her husband in prayer when they are under the same roof. She continuously asks God for a spirit of discernment while making multimillion dollar decisions, for purity of thought, and the ability to listen.

Flag Barbie is in her office. Prayer is on her lips. Psalm 118:24 is in her heart. Along with company loyalty and patriotism, Cooper reminds listeners she serves at the pleasure of the Lockheed Martin organization and is all about keeping it real. "I tell my employees to pray, and then get back to work."



  1. Rosalie says: What a WONDERFUL article. I enjoyed that very much, especially as she is a sister in Christ. This is how some of these businesses are going to be turned for good. Someone has to stand and bring the Lord back into our businesses and schools. That’s Who does the work through His people. Thank you very much for sharing this article, which, I will in turn share will some others I know will appreciate it.

  2. Helga says: Very well written, thank you xx


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