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When Anne (McCarthy) Dutton (84’) was close to completing her graduate degree in English at UMD, she began looking for a job. One of her professors, Ken Risdon, suggested that she look into technical writing. “He said that there was a need for technical writers, and that employers can teach you the technology, but they can’t teach you how to write,” Dutton recalled. Soon after, Dutton landed a job at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Marietta, Ga. That job turned into a career, and that was 21 years ago.
Since that time, Dutton has worked her way up from writing and editing flight and maintenance manuals, to the global sustainment division where she manages support contracts for C130 aircraft with such clients as Great Britain’s Royal Air Force and the Israeli Air Force. Dutton coordinates engineering updates, modifications, maintenance, and repairs.
To learn the aeronautics industry, Dutton turned to other employees to mentor her. Lockheed Martin encourages mentoring among its employees. “One of my mentors was a retired Navy pilot, a colonel. I wanted insights into the military point of view. It was a development area that I needed work in,” she said.
Dutton had a woman mentor when she started out. “Her help was invaluable. I needed to pay that back,” she said. Dutton is now mentoring two women employees. “I try to be a support to them and be a sounding board. It’s still a challenge to be a female in a male-dominated industry.”
Dutton is impressed with the young people she sees joining Lockheed Martin. “One great thing is that they are so tuned into technology. Their no-fear attitude is fabulous.” The ones that she sees who are most successful are able to clearly communicate with a broad range of people. “Hone your communication skills, and you will excel.”
Dutton admits, with clients around the world, her job could be an all-consuming thing. She carves out time to make sure that doesn't happen. She and her husband live north of Atlanta where “from April to October, we’re on the lake.” She also has horses. “They balance my work,” she said.
Dutton believes wholeheartedly in higher education. “Graduate school prepared me for the focused, intense work I do at Lockheed. I discovered I was prepared to handle this larger corporate entity. I didn’t know I was prepared, but I was.”
She would like to come back to UMD to meet with writing students and share some of what she's learned. She would encourage them to go to graduate school. In 2002, she earned a second master's degree, this time in project management. "The more education you get formally, the more confident you are," Dutton said.
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, firstname.lastname@example.org 9/01/11
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