Whenever Gary Fudge gets to visit his native hometown of Corner Brook, he looks forward to the rare chance to forget about his hectic professional life for a while.
Part of that includes trips in the local wilderness.
“The thing about the backcountry is you instantly forget about work because you’re just thinking about surviving,” he said.
Fudge who graduated from Herdman Collegiate before studying computer science at Memorial University in St. John’s, is the general manager and vice-president of Lockheed Martin Canada, Rotary and Mission Systems.
Much of his career, which started out as a software developer in 1980, has been developing and installing combat systems on navy vessels in Canada and abroad.
He loves the challenges that face him every single day at work.
In 1984, he became the software manager on a project to develop the combat systems on 12 new frigates for the Canadian navy.
In 2008, he and his team got to dismantle all of the original work they had done on those ships and took on a $1.5-billion modernization project that is just going to wrap up later this year.
Named to his current position last May, Fudge now gets to head up the design and integration of the latest combat systems for 15 brand new frigates being built by Canada for its defence fleet.
The new fleet, which will cost $60 billion to build, including between $7 billion and $12 billion in work for Fudge’s division of Lockheed Martin Canada, is set to be the biggest current shipbuilding project in the western world.
“One of the things we talk about at our meetings is that, when you come to work for us, you’re making Canadian history,” Fudge said in a telephone interview. “It’s an important part of the country’s future. It’s something to be proud of and something you can talk to your grandkids about.”
Fudge is driven by the pursuit of finding newer and better ways to do the work he and his 650 Lockheed employees do. He also said his capacity to learn is directly proportional to his interest in the subject
“I was always a curious individual and interested in learning stuff,” he said. “Your thirst for knowledge takes you to different places. The more you’re interested in something, the more you learn about it.”
He is most proud that his employer is one that supports and fosters industry growth within Canada, both in the sense of economic development and the corporation’s expertise in its field.
“We’re pretty proud we’re one of the best in the world at what we do.”
While his wife Chris, who is also from Corner Brook, comes home more often to visit her mom, Fudge said he only gets back to western Newfoundland around once every three years or so. He does visit St. John’s for business more regularly.
The couple has maintained their youthful love of the outdoors, especially being in the backcountry.
Whether it’s taking in the breathtaking vista atop Gros Morne Mountain or maybe trudging through the western Newfoundland wilderness for days on the Long Range Traverse, Fudge relishes the chance to be far away from the pressures of designing national security software.
“If I go to a beach, I’m just lying on the beach and thinking about work. When you’re hiking, you’re not thinking about work.
"You’re thinking about when you’re going to reach the campsite, where am I going to get some firewood, am I going to run out of food and you’re watching the weather.”
Some details of the latest major contract Lockheed Martin Canada, Rotary and Mission Systems is part of:
- The Canadian government recently awarded U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin a long-awaited contract to design its $60-billion fleet of warships.
- The Royal Canadian Navy's 15 new warships will be built by Irving Shipbuilding and based on the British-designed Type 26 frigate.
- The initial contract with Irving Shipbuilding is valued at $185 million including taxes and will increase as design work progresses.
- Lockheed's design was selected as the best last October, beating out submissions from Alion Science and Technology of Virginia and Spanish firm Navantia to replace Canada's existing frigates and destroyers.
- Federal officials will now sit down with Irving and Lockheed to figure out what changes need to be made to the company's design, along with the navy's requirements to make sure they fit.
- The design work is expected to take three to four years to complete, with construction set to begin in the early 2020s.
Source: The Canadian Press