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Chief Executive Leadership Institute Honors Kathy Warden of Northrop Grumman with Legend in Leadership Award

Kathy Warden will accept the Yale Legend in Leadership Award from the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute during the Yale CEO Caucus in Washington, D.C., on March 15.

Kathy Warden

Kathy Warden, chair, CEO, and president of Northrop Grumman Corporation, will accept the Yale Legend in Leadership Award from the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute during the Yale CEO Caucus in Washington, D.C., on March 15. The award will be presented by Mary T. Barra, chair and CEO of General Motors Corporation; and Robert Isom, CEO, American Airlines Group.

“I am honored to celebrate the trailblazing leadership of Kathy Warden, who has shattered glass ceilings in the traditionally male-dominated defense industry as well as many other firsts – including as the first in her family to go to college,” said caucus organizer Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Senior Associate Dean for Leadership Studies at the Yale School of Management. 

“Under her capable leadership, Northrop Grumman has fortified its position as a leading defense supplier to the United States, with over 70% of its sales going to the U.S. government. Ongoing geopolitical unrest reminds us of Northrop Grumman’s vital role in keeping all of us safe and defending freedom around the world,” Sonnenfeld added.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global aerospace and defense technology company. Northrop Grumman’s pioneering solutions equip their customers with the capabilities necessary to connect and protect the world and push the boundaries of human exploration across the universe.

Under Warden’s leadership, Northrop Grumman has built on its unparalleled legacy product portfolio with cutting-edge innovation, research, and design to better address the evolving threat landscape. In just the last year, they have delivered the pioneering B-21 Raider, the future of long-range strike, as well as the groundbreaking James Webb Space Telescope which is helping scientists better understand the universe.

“Warden’s strides in innovation have come in part because of her impressive focus on developing next-generation STEM talent, including partnerships with grade schools and universities,” Sonnenfeld continued. “These partnerships aim to address education equity and build a pipeline of diverse STEM leaders for the future. Northrop Grumman is a member of the OneTen initiative to train, hire, and advance one million Black Americans over the next 10 years into skills jobs and management positions in addition to supporting hiring and career opportunities at HBCUs.”

Kathy Warden was elected chair of the Northrop Grumman Board of Directors in 2019 and has served as CEO and president since January 1, 2019. She was elected to the company’s Board of Directors in 2018.

Prior to becoming CEO and president, Warden served as president and chief operating officer, responsible for the operational management of the company’s four sectors as well as its enterprise services organization. She also led the integration of Northrop Grumman’s Orbital ATK acquisition.

Warden earned a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Merck & Co., Inc. and Catalyst, and as the vice chair of the Greater Washington Partnership. She is also a member of the Business Roundtable, and the 2022 recipient of the Deming Cup for Operational Excellence.

Sonnenfeld added, “It is little surprise that under her watch, Northrop Grumman stock has doubled from ~$250 a share when she took over in 2019 to well over $450 now. The company continues to be rated highly by almost every major Wall Street investment bank with strong ‘buy’ endorsements. For example, Bank of America writes,  ‘Northrop Grumman is a top pick with high-quality earnings and solid free cash flow generation. Management’s investment in internal R&D has paid off with the $80 billion contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber (B-21). With strong execution, solid balance sheet, increasing dividend and consistent share repurchase, we expect NOC to outperform the market.’ Likewise, Morgan Stanley writes that ‘we see NOC as the Defense ballast to own.”

“For her incredible record of leadership and innovation, I am honored to recognize Kathy Warden with the well-deserved Yale Legend in Leadership Award,” said Sonnenfeld.

The Legend in Leadership Award was created 25 years ago to honor current and former CEOs who serve as living legends to inspire chief executives across industries, sectors, and nations. Past recipients include: Satya Nadella, Chairman & CEO, Microsoft; Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine; Doug Parker, Chairman of American Airlines; Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer; Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson; Lynn Good, CEO, Duke Energy; Lisa Su, CEO, AMD; Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of the NIAID; Doug McMillon, CEO, Walmart; Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International; Andrew J. Young, Mayor (1982-1990), Atlanta, Georgia, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1977-1979); Brian C. Cornell, Chair and CEO, Target Corporation; Doug McMillan, President and CEO, Walmart; Ivan G. Seidenberg, Chair and CEO, Verizon Communications; Ken Frazier, Chair and CEO, Merck & Co.; Randall L. Stephenson, Chairman and CEO, AT&T; Colin Powell, retired four-star U.S. Army General, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–93), and 65th U.S. Secretary of State (2001–05); Virginia M. (Ginni) Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM Corporation; Janet Yellen, United States Secretary of the Treasury; Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever PLC; Mary T. Barra, Chairman and Chief Executive of General Motors Company; Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO, Bank of America; David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group; Leonard S. Schleifer, President and CEO, and George D. Yancopoulos, President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; Brian Roberts, CEO, Comcast; Marillyn Hewson, CEO, Lockheed Martin; Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan Chase; and Ken Chenault, Chair and CEO, American Express. A full list of recipients can be found online.

The Caucus theme is “The US Leading the Free World Isn’t Free of Costs/Benefits for My Business: CEO Tradeoffs in Markets, Sourcing, and Investing.” The event promises to be a lively, candid discussion with distinguished global corporate leaders from across industries.

Conference partners include AlixPartners, Edelman, EY, Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg, UPS, and McKinsey & Company.