Haden Land: A Hispanic STEM Leader and Chairman of Capitol Tech's Board
This profile on Haden Land, former Vice President of Research and Technology for Lockheed Martin and current Chairman of Capitol Technology University’s Board of Trustees, is the close of a month-long series of profiles on Hispanic innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.
As many young children did, Haden Land grew up watching NASA’s Apollo Missions, except Land had a particular interest–his father was responsible for the trajectories of the launches. This early access to STEM, began Land’s long and successful career in the T part of STEM.
“As a child, I think my fascination in science and math started with my father and him having telescopes and other scientific apparatuses,” reminisced Land, who said his fascination grew in school. “In high school, I took the calculus path and found I had inherent strong analytics skills, so I looked at what opportunities were available using this skill and computer science stood out.”
After high school, Land took his interest to the next level at The State University of New York at Potsdam, where he earned a bachelor's degree with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science.
After graduating with his BS, Land entered the workforce as an employee of International Business Machines (IBM). Despite securing this well-respected job in his field after earning his undergraduate degree, Land continued to educate himself by enrolling in night school courses to earn a master’s degree in computer science from Syracuse University.
IBM was eventually bought by Loral which was eventually bought by Lockheed Martin, where Land spent the rest of his professional career prior to retirement. During his years at Lockheed Martin, a leader in technology innovation and national defense, Land continued to educate himself by accepting a variety of leadership roles including Vice President of Engineering and CTO for Lockheed Martin IS&GS Civil; Vice President of Technical Operations and CTO/CIO for Lockheed Martin Enterprise Solutions; and his final role as Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of Research and Technology for the technology giant’s Information Systems and Global Solutions division, where he was responsible for technical solutions, strategic partnerships, global innovation centers, research and development, and emerging technology planning.
Before the many senior level leadership positions Land occupied, he began to embrace his Hispanic Heritage.
“I was probably about 15 to 20 years into my career when I still coded myself as a white Caucasian,” Land said. “Then, as my mom grew older and became more frail I began to learn a lot more about her family tree, which started back in Catalonia, Spain.”
During this period, Land learned that if a person was 25% or more of a particular nationality, that person could claim that as their nationality.
“I was a young executive at the time so I spoke with HR about this and they said ‘you should certainly claim this and because you're a very respected person you can help move that needle,’” said Land. “When I was at Lockheed in a Director level position, prior to accepting a vice president level position, I joined a group within the company called the Lockheed Martin Hispanic Executive Council.”
After engaging with the Lockheed Martin Hispanic Executive Council and some external Hispanic groups focused on advancing information technology, Land began to take on a new role as a mentor for other Hispanic STEM professionals both internal and external to the company.
“As I grew in seniority at Lockheed Martin and held very senior executive level positions, I became more externally focused on helping this particular heritage group,” said Land who became more outspoken and involved in groups focused on promoting STEM professionals with Hispanic heritage. This lead him to take on an increasing number of leadership roles in a variety of groups. “I became involved in a group called the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC). I supported them for a number of years before becoming a board director for about four years until I stepped down after I retired from Lockheed Martin.”
Land’s extensive advocacy and mentorship efforts for STEM professionals with Hispanic heritage earned him an incredible list of awards. Land was named a "Most Influential Hispanic" three times by HITEC, selected eight times as one of the "Top Hispanics in Business and Technology" by Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology, and received a Global CIO Executive Top 10 Breakaway Leader award, among many other recognitions. Land was also awarded two honorary doctoral degrees: an Honorary Doctor of Science from The State University of New York and another from Capitol Technology University, then called Capitol College, in Humane Letters (Honoris Causa).
Through his many years of education, professional experience, and mentorship, Land has curated advice for students, particularly those with Hispanic heritage, who hope to hold a STEM leadership position. Somewhat surprisingly, most of his advice includes inserting the letter ‘A’ into STEM to create STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
“There is the left brain and right brain, and typically people are stronger on one of those sides and they focus on those strengths,” Land said before continuing to mention that professionals’ “ability to move to tangent jobs or related fields is somewhat limited if you can't get those two sides of the brain to connect well and transfer information.”
As an example, Land mentioned that many of the strongest data scientists he worked with as an executive or in his many groups, complemented their STEM degree with a creative degree or activity, such as music.
Land also suggests that students look for a career that is “horizontal.”
“There are a number of areas that are horizontal across industries, meaning they touch every industry. As an example, one area is cybersecurity. Another is big data. Another is cloud computing,” Land explained. “So things that are horizontal in nature, that touch multiple domains, allow for more greater opportunity for employment. If you pick something that's a silo and very centric to a particular industry or domain, you're sort of confined to that market and your ability for opportunity is really inside spheres of that industry. That’s my greatest advice–look for areas that can be defined fairly crisply as horizontal across industries and your opportunity paths are going to have many more branches.”
“I think having a month to not only support this particular heritage, but others in other months for other reasons is a great idea to bring attention to these populations,” Land said.
On a personal level, Land celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by reconnecting with the people he’s mentored over the years.
“I outreach to a number of people of Hispanic descent that I've coached during my career and ask if they need any help or any advice,” Land said. “So that's something that I have always done during this month. I try to reconnect to my network to see if there's something else or something further I can do to assist people.”