The Rocket Scientist: Rebecca Rhoads

Are you sitting down? the voice asked Rebecca Rhoads, who happened to be standing over her desk in Tucson, Arizona.

When she picked up the phone, Rhoads was CIO of Raytheon's electronics systems business. Raytheon's then-CEO, Dan Burnham, had other ideas.

“Well, I think you need to sit down,” Burnham said, as Rhoads recounts. In that instant, she thought to herself, “What have I done?”

It was a Monday, in April 2001.

There haven't been too many times in her career when Rhoads experienced that uneasy feeling when time stands still, when everything else around you ceases to grab your attention. But this was one of them.

Burnham asked Rhoads to come up to the company's Lexington, Massachusetts, headquarters to speak with him about becoming Raytheon's next corporate CIO. As the IT leader at a multibillion-dollar Raytheon unit, she was used to moving fast. But she didn't know how fast this conversation would go.

On Wednesday, she was in Lexington. By Friday, she was the enterprise-wide CIO of Raytheon.


In 2012, Raytheon reported sales of $24 billion. It had 68,000 employees around the world, and it ranked number 117 on the Fortune 500 that year.

The company boasts a long tradition of innovation in the development of the aerospace and defense industries. When Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969, it was guided by a Raytheon computer. Millions ...

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