Michael Hanlin landed accounting position at Lockheed Martin
with hard work and Southeastern connections
Before Michael Hanlin even graduated from Southeastern University, he had landed an accounting position at one of the top advanced technology companies in the world.
Hanlin, an accountant at Lockheed Martin, attributes his enviable situation to the relationships he built at Southeastern University and the hard work he put in to his studies while there.
Hanlin works under the aeronautics division in Cash Management Solutions, which follows the company's contracts from start to finish. He monitors where the money is coming from and where it's going within the company, which specializes in aeronautics and information systems for the U.S. Department of Defense and boasted $45.8 billion in sales in 2010.
He also is part of a special project and team organized to seek out and collect money that could have been hidden or forgotten and not invoiced or collected for years, hurting the company's cash position. The money, called opportunity cash, is estimated to range from $50 million to potentially hundreds of millions of dollars, and the project is expected to take a year to complete.
The key to Hanlin's great first job at Lockheed Martin was an internship that he received there during his senior year at Southeastern. He applied for the internship in February 2009 at the urging of his professors, and started the program that summer.
Southeastern's business professors have a longstanding relationship with some of Lockheed Martin's managers at their business office in Lakeland, meeting them for lunch and often discussing qualified job and internship candidates that the company could consider. Hanlin's name came up frequently because of his success in his classes and his work ethic.
"They go to bat for you," Hanlin, 23, said of Southeastern's faculty. "If you do the work, they really look out for you."
Hanlin, who graduated with degrees in finance and accounting, wasn't sure he would accept the internship because it required him to stay in Lakeland the summer before his senior year. Most of his friends were going to be back home in his native Pennsylvania, and he didn't want to miss out on seeing them before graduation.
But Hanlin's professors encouraged him to take the internship, telling him it was an opportunity he didn't want to miss. The decision paid off.
During his internship, Hanlin helped transfer thousands of previously billed files to a new enterprise resource planning system (SAP) from a previous legacy system (CORT) that allowed the company to streamline all financial, manufacturing, and sales/service data. The change was necessary to allow the company to ensure it was meeting complex government contract requirements.
While he was in the middle of his job search in the spring of 2010, Hanlin received a job offer from Lockheed Martin. He had impressed his supervisors so much, that they locked him up before he even finished his senior year.
In addition to the faculty helping Hanlin with its connections, he said the small class sizes at Southeastern contributed to his ability to grasp financing and accounting skills that he used to earn his job at Lockheed Martin. He spent hours working one-on-one with his professors, which reinforced the concepts he learned in lectures and textbooks.
Professors Dr. William Hahn and Dr. Ed Plastow, and Assistant Professor Christopher Fairchild all were instrumental in Hanlin's development, and a recommendation letter from Dr. Lyle Bowlin, professor of finance, helped seal his full-time position.
Fairchild's Accounting Information Systems class gave Hanlin critical knowledge of programs such as Excel and Access that he uses every day to manage contracts at Lockheed Martin. Dr. Hahn's Intermediate Accounting classes covered all regulation and standards in the field, which have guided Hanlin as he deals with revenue from sales of airplanes.
The percentage of completion accounting method - which Hanlin learned in Intermediate Accounting – allows for the recognition of revenue over the life of the production of an item, so long as revenues are matched with expenses through each stage. Because planes take years to develop, design, and deliver, percentage of completion is an essential tool for Lockheed Martin to track its money while remaining within the U.S. GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) regulations for revenue recognition.
Hanlin said Southeastern's Christ-centered teaching and culture produces candidates who stand out from the rest in the crowded job market. Lockheed Martin has other Southeastern alumni in its Lakeland office, and Hanlin has heard the company's managers point out that they know they are getting a high-caliber person with humility and integrity from Southeastern, not just a talented employee.
"Southeastern prepared me extremely well," Hanlin said.