The F-35 is a stealth supersonic fighter jet that's designed to go undetected and protect Australia from current and emerging threats. I'm Lizz Wells. I work for Lockheed Martin Australia. I'm an engineering process and information systems associate functional manager.
The Royal Australian Air Force has purchased 72 F-35s from Lockheed Martin in America. We're located next to the RAAF base Williamtown just outside Newcastle. I lead a team of data and configuration management analysts in the area. They work across a variety of Defence programs mainly TADRS which is the tactical air defence radar system and the F-35. So if TADRS can see this part of the airspace and F-35 can see this part of the airspace those two pictures can be put together to the op centre so they can get a bigger picture of what's going on.
Most recently the Royal Australian Air Force asked us to make this system mobile. My involvement in making the TADRS more mobile was to ensure that the engineers followed the engineering change process. This is providing governance and oversight for the engineers in moving from the previous design to the new design that you can see behind me which is a 14-foot cabin about three times smaller than the previous.
In 2020 I won the Lockheed Martin Rising Star Award for Australia and New Zealand for my ability to provide strategies, development plans and implement solutions in a roll out of a new corporate data management tool. When I was younger I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my career and I actually didn't finish Year 12 but I was able to gain entry to Southern Cross University as a mature age student. Working for Lockheed Martin is so fulfilling and rewarding. They’ve really helped nurture me and grow my career and I absolutely love working here.
Lizz Wells is a rising star and recognised future leader whose work behind the scenes at global security and aerospace prime Lockheed Martin Australia supports our country's national security endeavours.
Lizz has not looked back since making the leap from local government to Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) in 2018. She discovered a passion and talent for big picture thinking and strategy development while working in a council’s waste services department.
In just four years, Lizz has established herself as an outstanding analyst at LMA. As an Engineering Processes and Information Systems Associate Functional Manager, Lizz leads a team of data and configuration management analysts who support engineering lifecycle processes.
“At the heart of it, I work in developing efficiencies and process improvements across the team of people I look after,” says Lizz, who is based at LMA’s rapidly-growing Williamtown presence adjacent to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base.
Lizz has played an important role in the delivery of a variety of programs for the Australian Defence Force and other industry partners, including a portable tactical air defence radar system (known as TADRS); portable cabins (known as Deployable Data Management System (DDMS) cabins) that provide secure workspaces for ADF personnel supporting F-35 operations; and maintenance and training for the F-35, a 5th-generation supersonic stealth fighter. The jet’s advanced sensors and data fusion allow it to gather and share information faster than ever before. The RAAF has purchased 72 F-35 jets from LMA’s parent company in the USA.
“I am grateful to my colleagues and mentors at Lockheed Martin Australia for their ongoing support to deliver real outcomes and solutions for the customer, while also allowing me the opportunity to pursue my passion for learning,” says Lizz.
Lizz was recognised by her peers when she received the 2020 Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Employee Excellence Rising Star Award. The Rising Star Award acknowledges employees who make an extraordinary contribution to the business while demonstrating huge potential for their career within Lockheed Martin.
“I won the award for my ability to devise strategies, development plans, and implement solutions in the rollout of a new corporate data management tool for change and configuration management,” says Lizz.
“I made some big gains for the company. To be recognised outside of my team and within the wider organisation has been really exciting.”
The trajectory of Lizz’s stellar career has not been linear.
“I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my career and I actually didn't finish Year 12,” she says.
After bouncing around from optical dispenser to hotel management, Lizz decided to pursue environmental science in her mid-20s. She gained entry to Southern Cross University as a mature-age student and started a degree online.
Drawing on knowledge from her environmental science studies, Lizz was now working as a waste services officer with a local council.
“One of my tasks was applying for grants through the NSW Environment Protection Authority. One of those grants was a community education plan for a community recycling centre. Developing this plan gave me a taste for that big picture thinking and developing plans and strategies for a business.”
With her passion for business processes ignited, Lizz enrolled in a Bachelor of Business – again online with Southern Cross University – which led to a role in defence contracting that ultimately opened the door to Lockheed Martin Australia.
“Tertiary qualifications are required to be a manager at Lockheed Martin. However, my degree has given me so much more than just a piece of paper,” says Lizz.
“It has taught me written communication skills. The ability to be analytical and present information and data in a sound format. It's taught me project management understanding, business decision-making, and general management foundational skills.”
Lizz is not done with Southern Cross yet. With two degrees already under her belt, she would eventually like to do a Master of Engineering Management.
“Lockheed Martin as is an engineering organisation and I feel that this Masters will establish me as a senior leader within the business.”
The Southern Cross University Alumni Network
Alumni Impact Award recipients
Alumnus of the Year
Matthew Hoare’s life-long love of surfing is helping his fellow Australian defence force veterans to find peace. An exercise physiologist and co-founder of the Association of Veteran Surfers (AVS), Matthew is all too aware of the high incidence of mental health issues and suicide among veterans, with AVS striving to be a point understanding, collaboration, enjoyment and, hopefully, progress.
Young Alumnus of the Year
Holly Ahern is a Lismore-based multidisciplinary artist with an interest in textiles, painting and large-scale sculpture. After her public artwork ‘In the Heart’ went viral following flood events in the Northern Rivers in February 2022, Holly used imagery of the sculpture to start a fundraiser for flood-affected artists, raising $20,000 in a matter of days.
International Alumnus of the Year
Said Achmad Kabiru Rafiie
When the Indonesian province of Aceh was hit by a devastating tsunami in 2004, Said, originally from the region, had to do something. After joining Southern Cross to study an MBA, he returned to his hometown in Aceh and launched the Moringa project. Through this initiative, students and local people are becoming entrepreneurs thanks to a local resource: the moringa tree.
Community Impact Award
Vanessa Latham is the Mental Health Manager at the Royal Flying Doctor Service - Southern Eastern Section. Vanessa’s role is based around supporting people living with extremely adverse conditions due to lifestyle impacts, geographical isolation, and individual vulnerabilities.