Tag Archives: Boeing

The world is her oyster

Thao Hong

Thao Hong has made a grand life and living in service of global economic development

Barely a decade out of school, Thao Hong (BA 2001) has made enviable progress on a world-class bucket list.

Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Check. Study pastry in Paris. Check. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Check. Learn to Tango in Buenos Aires. Check.

Call it a perk of her itinerant years in the US Foreign Service—the job, itself, a significant item on Hong’s life to-do list.

“I always wanted to work in diplomacy,” she says. “Not only to engage in political discussions, but also to build the cultural and economic ties that support peace around the world—and preempt situations like the one my parents found themselves in.”

That was the War in Vietnam, from which they were displaced for years before finding their way to the US. Without money, connections or a word of English, they made careers in social work and built a decent life for their two daughters in Federal Way.

In Thao, they inspired a profound sense of mission.

Shooting at the moon

Hong came to believe that diplomacy and international trade represented the most direct path to prosperity and peace. If an international posting with the State Department was her “shoot-at-the-moon” goal, she bet that studies in finance and international business at the Foster School would be a suitable preparation.

They were. After getting her start working at Nordstrom and Expeditors International, she landed a job in the Foreign Service and entered its economic track.

Hong trained in Washington, DC, and then served in Taipei, Taiwan, and Shanghai, China. Her first role was in consular work, but she quickly advanced to representing US interests in trade negotiations with government officials and business leaders in the areas of currency, banking, transportation and textiles.

Experiential learning

Hong—who speaks fluent English, Vietnamese, and Mandarin, and basic French and Japanese—relished the immersive experiences. “That exposure has made me appreciate how important it is to understand the context of foreign cultures,” she says. “The world is not so US-centric any longer. And trade is a vibrant force that pulses with or without us. I still believe it’s what facilitates peace around the world.”

The job also has been her ticket to see that world. “In the Foreign Service you end up with a network of friends who have sweet places to live across the globe,” she says. “If you can get there, you can enjoy them like a local, almost.”

After Shanghai, Hong completed the Advanced Economic Studies Program at the Foreign Service Institute, capped by an externship with the Boeing Company. When Boeing offered to retain her, she decided it was time to come home.

A new mission

Hong found an excellent fit in Boeing, America’s largest exporter whose fastest growing markets are international. “We live in an increasingly interconnected world,” she says. “And it’s wonderful to be a part of this great company that helped facilitate international travel, trade and diplomacy. We’re philosophically aligned.”

Hong began as director of international strategy, leading a team of functional experts to chart the enterprise global strategy of Boeing Commercial Airlines, Boeing Defense Space & Security, and Engineering Operations and Technology.

Now she is being groomed to lead the next generation of Boeing sales, and learning the aerospace industry from the wheels on up.

“Boeing is a genuine American icon,” Hong says. “I see why people are so proud and get so emotional about the company and its products. It’s contagious.”

Travel tips

Though her scope is global, Hong is tied to the Foster School, mentoring students as they work toward a Certificate of International Studies in Business and dream of their own role in the global economy.

Her advice?

Make home out of wherever you are. Check your ego and learn from the people you meet. Learn the local language. And have a curious mind. “That’s how you find yourself on Kilimanjaro or the Inca Trail or cooking in Paris,” Hong says. “I was curious and wanted to try it out.”

Foster Idea Lab participants brainstorm sustainable solutions

Looking for a challenge? How about trying to cut total emissions from the global commercial aviation fleet in half—even as it doubles from 20,000 to a projected 40,000 planes—by 2050.

That tall order is the very real pledge of the world’s aviation industry.

And leading the quixotic charge is the Boeing Company, whose Bill Glover provided the keynote for the 2013 Foster Idea Lab, a kind of high-level sustainability brainstorming session hosted by Net Impact at the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

Glover, the vice president of global business development and policy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, offered a portal into his firm’s efforts to produce more efficient, lower-emitting aircraft through innovative on-board technologies, smarter materials and an all-out push to develop a jet-worthy renewable fuel.

He recounted Boeing’s catalytic effort to drive the first successful biofuel-powered commercial airplane flight, and its legacy in thousands of subsequent test, demonstration and commercial biofueled flights in the past few years.

“Now we need to industrialize it,” Glover said. “Make this work on an industry-wide scale to drive down the carbon footprint of aviation. That’s one of the great opportunities that we have. We’re at the beginning, and we have a long way to go.”

High-level brainstorm

Facing the big challenges of sustainability was the theme of the Idea Lab. Some 40 senior sustainability officers from a wide range of companies huddled with each other and with Foster MBA students to cross-pollinate solutions to the challenges of their organizations to operate more sustainably. Among the organizations participating were Microsoft (the Idea Lab sponsor), Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, T-Mobile, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many others.

The event was organized by the Foster School’s chapter of Net Impact, the international MBA organization devoted to inspiring a new generation to use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems.

National Champs

Foster MBAs won the national Net Impact Case Competition in 2011 and 2013, and reached the finals in 2012. At the Idea Lab, Gabe Jones, Ryan Scott and Chris Walker of the winning team reported on the school’s most recent victory this past February at the University of Colorado.

The case challenged student teams to navigate Newmont Mining’s efforts to begin mining gold in a fictional African nation. The Foster team’s winning solution was centered on the creation of a Trusted Partners Program—a kind of independent escrow account managed by Newmont executives, stakeholders from local and national government, and NGO partners—that would manage profit sharing to benefit both company shareholders and local residents in the areas of environmental, social and educational.

The plan was simple, feasible and implementable. Said Scott: “The question we kept asking ourselves was, what will the board do next week? After we finish our presentation, can the board actually act on this? I think that’s what earned us the win.”

Water, plastics, and dirty data

Foster Net Impact’s faculty advisor Elizabeth Stearns closed the event with a bracing reminder of our rampant overuse of water, plastics and “dirty” data.

The senior lecturer pointed out the tens of gallons of water it takes to produce a cup of coffee or glass of wine, the hundreds of gallons to produce a t-shirt or can of beer, and the thousands to produce a pair of blue jeans or a bar of chocolate.

And she challenged anyone who produces packaging to consider the effect of plastics—300 million tons produced annually, 90 percent of which can be recycled but only 10 percent that is recycled.

Stearns called for a new paradigm. “It’s not enough to recycle,” she said. “We should be focusing on upcycling—the cradle-to-cradle creation of something for the expressed purpose of later being reused, perhaps as something else.”

As for dirty data, Stearns reported that the computing industry and the “cloud” are consuming 623 billion kilowatts of energy and 5.5 billion gallons of water annually, producing 50 million tons of toxic e-waste, and emitting 680 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions—2-3 percent of the world’s total emissions.

“We have to start rethinking our business processes in every industry,” she said. “If we don’t, we won’t have a business.”

But Stearns also pointed out that there are “lots of wonderful solutions out there.” As exemplars, she cited Singapore’s successful gray-water-to-drinking-water company NEWater, the collapsible, upcyclable container used by Japan’s I LOHAS, and the comprehensively sustainable Belgium-based cleaning products company Ecover.

“When you work in sustainability, it’s easy to feel that there isn’t a way out, that the situation is hopeless,” Stearns said. “But the people in the room are already convinced that we have to do things more sustainably. We just have to know that we can do things more sustainably.

From Norway to Foster to Boeing: a conversation with MBA alum Hans Aarhus

Hans Aarhus bio pictureHans Aarhus is the director of Estimating and Pricing for Boeing’s 787 program. He received his MBA from the Foster School in 1989 and is a member of the Global Business Advisory Board.

In 2011 you were named Director of Estimating and Pricing for Boeing’s 787 program after serving as the Director of Financial Planning for the program. Tell us about your new role.

In my new role, I’m responsible for all of the estimates that are done on the 787 program.  These estimates can be broken down in a couple of different categories: the engineering changes that are being considered for the airplane, customer requested changes to the airplane, new derivative airplanes being studied and any production system investment under consideration.   All of these estimates require my team to reach out to all of the different organizations that would have impacts due to the proposed changes, including engineering, procurement, production and support.  Most of these estimates get presented in a business case format that includes a number of financial metrics and considerations.  We also work with our pricing organization for estimates that include pricing considerations with our customers.

I also have responsibility for all systems, processes and tools that support our function in our day to day activities.

What was it like to come to the US from Norway to study at UW? Did you plan to stay in the US after earning your MBA?

It was a great opportunity that also included quite a culture shock.  I had not been to the US before and I still recall very vividly the first day which included the I5-I405 Hwy interchange coming out of Seatac, the downtown skyline and Bellevue Mall.  My impression was, “wow everything is bigger in the US.”The first couple of days on the UW campus were also very impressive in regards to the sheer size of the campus and all of the great architecture of the buildings. My first quarters were certainly influenced by the fact that English is my second language and some of the challenges it drives.  I also recall the excitement I always had talking to friends and relatives back in Norway in regards to my experiences that UW offered including my first Husky football game with 60,000 plus fans in the stands.I did not have any plans whatsoever to stay in the US in the beginning but that changed very quickly when I ran into a student from Oregon in the McMahon dining room in the spring of 1986.  A very long and great story but here we are 25 years into our marriage with 2 great sons.

How has your global experience helped you in your various positions?

I think the global experience has been very important for me throughout my Boeing career.  English being my second language has always made me pay very close attention when other people are communicating so I end up doing a little more listening than talking, which I have found to be a good thing.  I also think having a global experience enables you to recognize that most people come from different cultures and the more you understand about their background and can take that into consideration, the more productive your interactions will be.

What would you tell students about the world of global business?

The world is becoming a smaller and smaller place every day.  By that, I mean that advances in transportation and technology enable a much simpler way to connect with people around the world.  It is paramount for us to recognize this and embrace it.  The quicker you can adapt yourself to operate and efficiently interact with people in all of the different cultures, the more successful you will be.

I think the UW is an excellent place to start that journey. You have a tremendous opportunity at UW to really reach out to the diversity that the school has to offer. Taking advantage of these opportunities will put you ahead of a lot of your peers that you will be compared to and compete with as you progress in your school work and your professional career.

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar benefits 3,000 and counting

Adapted from a Boeing publication

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar's (AIMS) 50th AnniversaryManagement theories and approaches fall in and out of favor, as any experienced manager can tell you. That’s a fact of life in the business world, and one that makes the half-century staying power of the Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar, or AIMS, all the more impressive.

AIMS is a two-week residential leadership development program created and administered in partnership by Boeing and Executive Education at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Over the years more than 3,000 Boeing employees have gone through the program. All have benefited from the program’s focus on such topics as improving the global supply chain, increasing efficiencies and productivity in operations management, boosting business performance, and becoming effective leaders of change management.

AIMS celebrated its 50th anniversary in July 2012, and students of Class 97 currently in the program joined some of the past graduates and UW representatives in mid-July for a dinner and reception at the Foster School of Business to honor this milestone and celebrate the program’s many accomplishments.

Aerospace Industry Manufacturing Seminar's (AIMS) 50th Anniversary“AIMS is a great program and a wonderful partnership with Boeing and the University of Washington said Bill Schnettgoeke, vice president of Supply and Operations Chain for Boeing Defense, Space & Security and Lean+ Enterprise Initiative Leader, who spoke at the event. “Its success is due to its ability to evolve from a focus on manufacturing to encompass Engineering, Supplier Management, Quality, among other areas – all the better to support the businesses. As we work across the value stream, it brings a cross section of people together.”

Tim Copes, vice president of Manufacturing and Safety for Commercial Airplanes, also spoke at the July 19 dinner at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“As an AIMS graduate myself, I can attest to how well the program prepared me to take on the challenges I’ve faced throughout my career,” said Copes, who completed the program in 1993. “The program’s endurance speaks volumes about its ability to give managers the skills they need to contribute to Boeing’s growth and profitability, and about the company’s commitment to developing the strengths of its leaders.”

The AIMS program is a nomination program for managers and executives from across Boeing who have at least three years of experience with the company.

Learn more about the Foster School’s Executive Education programs.

Leadership is aggressive listening

Guest post by Julius Ekeroma, TMMBA 2014
He attended the MBA “Perspectives on Leadership” Speaker Series. The speaker was Phil Condit, former Chair and CEO of The Boeing Company.

Phil Condit was an absolutely excellent speaker tonight. He was asked to speak on the topic of communication and narrowed it down to a more specific topic: aggressive listening.

I heard a quote once before that said, “Behind every successful leader is a multiplicity of great mentors.” Phil truly was one of those inspirational leaders. One of the biggest issues Phil emphasized tonight is that top leaders fail due to their philosophy of “My way or no way at all.” Phil says a good leader is one that listens to his team and his people; takes in what they say and determines a plan of action. Under each leader are a whole slew of intelligent and talented people. If you don’t use their knowledge, there is no reason to hire them.

My key takeaways from tonight:

  1. If you have a big decision to make, use the pros and cons from the people to support your account. If you don’t involve your team in your big decisions, yet you hear their feedback, they’ll frown down upon you–to point of even losing their respect.
  2. Listen intently and interact with your speakers. Show them a sense that you care of their issues. Value who they are and they will do the same of you.
  3. Being a good listener is not a skill that comes naturally: it is a skill you have to think about.
  4. If you’re willing to listen to your people, they’ll start telling you things they normally wouldn’t tell anyone — good and bad.
  5. Kick yourself! Be an aggressive listener. Listen to the people and what they have to offer before you say, “Here’s our direction.” Every team has skilled people — as a leader, use them.
  6. Every great leader has a moral compass. Be sensitive to the people. As a leader, your job is the success of the enterprise, not your personal success.

Phil concluded that as a leader, once in a while you need to be alone and reflect on yourself as a leader. Reflect on how people perceive you as a leader. Are you leading in a good way or bad? Have you done your job well? Have you sincerely met the expectations of the people? Are you an effective leader?

The next speaker is Colleen Brown, CEO of Fisher Communications, on November 1. Learn more.

Foreign market strategy project

Guest post by Mike Lawrence, Foster BA 2012 and Certificate of International Studies in Business Student Custom/Italian Track

2011 Forign Market StrategyBoeing Market Outlook Report was the focus of 2011 Foreign Market Strategy Project. Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) tracks competed in the fourth annual Foreign Market Strategy Project in winter 2011. Made possible by the Boeing Company with CISB alumna Ya-Han Brownlee-Chen as project manager, the project tasked students with examining Boeing’s Current Market Outlook Report and looking for both general and region-specific improvements that could be made to the report. In addition, it challenged students to improve the usefulness of the report to Boeing’s numerous supply chain partners around the world. CISB students had approximately five weeks to complete their research and then present their findings to a panel of judges which included Boeing Company representatives, Associate Dean Steve Sefcik and CISB alumni.

At the suggestion of Ya-Han, a coach from Boeing, Helly Hansen and Samskip IcePak were brought into the tracks to provide an industry perspective and guidance to the teams. Tracks got a lot of help and advice from the coaches. One student said, “Not only was our coach extremely helpful, but she invited us to tour her workplace this spring.”

All of the presentations were a delight to see, with each group bringing unique and often very creative ideas to the table. In the end, there were three awards distributed among the eight presenting groups. The Chinese team (Chinese Track) received the Grand Prize for Best Recommendation, while the Middle East (Custom Track) team received the reward for Best Presentation, and the Europe (German Track) team for Best Teamwork. In all, the project was an excellent experience for CISB students and Boeing alike, with Boeing receiving some quality ideas on how to improve their report.

The Chinese track presented their strategy to senior management and campus recruiters at Boeing on April 8. They also went on a VIP tour of the Everett facility,  met with recruiters at a networking lunch and had the privilege of meeting with Ian Chang, VP, China Operations and Business Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Have an idea for a future strategy project? If so, please contact CISB at cisb@uw.edu.
Learn more about the Certificate of International Studies in Business.