WASHINGTON As chief executive of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier by sales, Robert Stevens heads a powerhouse that builds some of the world's most advanced weapons, including the F-22 fighter jet, Aegis naval warfare system and Patriot PAC-3 missile.
In his spare time, Stevens likes to cut hay fields, move stone walls and fix the barn roof at his farm south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
"I go to the farm and I work," he told the Reuters Aerospace & Defense Summit on Tuesday. "You don't have to work on a farm very long before you realize you're not a farmer."
His neighbors talk about the weather, art and the challenges of architecture, said Stevens, whose compensation totaled $21.9 million according to an annual company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "It's a great place to be."
Lean and angular, he jokes that he looks younger than he is. He turns 60 on Thursday, and he said he planned to spend his birthday huddled with managers of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the costliest U.S. arms purchase, projected to total more than $382 billion through 2035.
Sipping a Diet Coke at breakfast time, he said his escapes from work include reading biographies and history.
Stevens enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1969, served on active duty until 1971 and was in the reserves from 1971 to 1975. He served in Okinawa, the Philippines and Vietnam and achieved the rank of corporal.
Born the son of a steelworker in 1951 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, he attended that state's Slippery Rock University, where he graduated summa cum laude.
The company, in its proxy statement, pointed out that in 2010 nearly 90 percent of the CEO's compensation was tied to company and individual performance, and it has declined each year since 2008.
"For my compensation, that's turned over to a committee of the board," Stevens told the summit.
"I don't get a voice," he said. "They evaluate me, they make their judgments. I think executive pay ought to be put in the context of performance. Our performance is, in my judgment, very transparent. People can look at the performance of the company and determine if we're doing the right things in the right way and make their own judgments."
(Reporting by Jim Wolf and Mike Miller; editing by Carol Bishopric)