The daughter of an AirSpace officer, Novakovic, who is of Serbian descent, graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and went on to get her MBA degree from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1988.
Interestingly, she has also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, and further, for the United States Department of Defense from 1997 to 2001.
In 2001, she joined General Dynamics, an American aerospace and defense corporation and has been a significant part of the organisation ever since, handling various leadership roles. In 2012, she became President and Chief Operations Officer and was promoted as the Chairman of the Board and the Chiefs Executive Officer merely a year later, in January, 2013. In 2018, Novakovic led General Dynamics in its $9.8 billion acquisition of IT firm CSRA.
Phebe has also sat on the Board of Directors of Abbott laboratories since 2010 and will now grace the board for JP Morgan Chase, effective December 7, 2020.
She is one of the only female executives in the military-industrial space. As of 2020, Phebe was listed as the 27th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.