Lee Rhyant and in our business practices we have tried to embrace new technology and the innovations that come from the youngest waves of our workforce," Rhyant says. "With all of our investments I believe we have the No. 1 aircraft manufacturing facility in the world and our people are second to none." Making history as one of the few black Fortune 500 executives of his generation, Rhyant is retiring from Lockheed in mid- March to enjoy a slower-paced lifestyle where he has the time and luxury to contemplate his next career move. As he settles down to spend more time with his wife Evelyn, his two sons-both physicians-and his three grandchildren, Rhyant jokes that his retirement will be short-lived because, "I don't think my wife and my children will be able to stand me if I don't get out of the house. I would like to re-emerge in a public policy capacity, and perhaps mentor the young men in our community who so desperately need guidance. I would also like to join the fight in defeating cancer, which has been a very personal crusade in my family's life." Having had his fill of the jet-set lifestyle during his years as a high-profile executive, Rhyant plans on defying the cliché of the wandering retiree. "At this point, I'm really looking forward to a vacation from traveling-just some relaxation at home with my family," says the Marietta resident and member of Zion Baptist Church. As his career at Lockheed Aeronautics winds down, Rhyant has been training his dynamic successor Shantella Cooper, whom he believes is more than equipped to guide Lockheed into the future. "Shan has a per- 26 Cobb in
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As his career at Lockheed Aeronautics winds down, Rhyant has been training his dynamic successor Shantella Cooper, whom he believes is more than equipped to guide Lockheed into the future.
sonal drive for excellence and an undying commitment to quality that is not something you can learn or teach," Rhyant says. "She has the personal, social and business skills to take the company to the next level." Like three previous Lockheed executives who call Cobb County home, when Rhyant retires this spring he will rest easy knowing that the company he served for a decade will carry on his strong leadership legacy. "When I leave my office for the last time, I will feel very comfortable knowing that I have done right by those I have left behind," he muses. "I believe I am leaving Lockheed in a better place than it was when I arrived, and I find solace in knowing the company is in the capable hands of Shan Cooper. A great mentor once told me that you are only as good as people make you, and I really pride myself on having been a part of the Lockheed team and continuing to be a part of the Cobb County community." Shantella Cooper "My career at Lockheed began 10 years ago, helping the corporation build and grow talent-because you are only as good as the folks on your team," says Cooper, echoing valuable words of wisdom adapted from her Shantella Cooper predecessor Lee Rhyant. "I've done a lot of different things and had a lot of diverse opportunities, but working for Lockheed has definitely been the highlight of my career." Succeeding Rhyant as the new vice president and general manager of Lockheed's Marietta operations, Cooper previously served as Vice President of Human Resources for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions, based in Gaithersburg, Md. "What I enjoy most is working with the thousands of creative, innovative and talented people at Lockheed," says Cooper, 42. "It's exciting and I feel really blessed in my career, especially getting to succeed one of my mentors in the business-I have huge shoes to fill." Before taking on the responsibility of managing the human resources services of more than 27,000 Lockheed Martin employees across the country, Cooper also spent two years at the Marietta facility, where she worked alongside Rhyant and an Atlantabased crew. "I'm a Southern girl through and through," says Cooper. "I grew up in Alabama, so coming back to work in Atlanta feels like a homecoming. It's wonderful to be back home and in such a great family atmosphere." A graduate of the Rutgers Global Executive Master's in Human Resource Leadership Program, Cooper also holds a master's degree in business administration from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Recognizing her unique achievements as one of the nation's youngest, black female executives, in 2009 Diversity MBA Magazine named Cooper to its list of the "Top 100 Under 50 Executives." And, as is demonstrated by her widespread involvement with community service organizations, Cooper's leadership extends well beyond the office. During her celebrated career she has served on the boards of The University of Maryland; the Southeastern Conference for Minorities in Engineering; the Tennessee State University Aerospace Education Laboratory; the National Action Council for