When you hear the name “Boeing” you may think of airplanes and defense, but there is a huge division devoted to keeping that hardware running smoothly through technology. Dean DeBiase has recently interviewed Ted Colbert, the CEO of their Global Services division, which operates in 400 locations and over 70 countries servicing not just Boeing hardware, but also their competitors.
On this episode of The Reboot Chronicles, I interviewed the CEO Boeing Global Services Ted Colbert. The world's largest aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As America’s biggest manufacturing exporter, Boeing employs over 140,000 people in 65 countries—who generated $62 Billion of revenue in 2021.
A thoughtful, inclusive and compassionate leader, Ted was just awarded the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year Award, was the first recipient of the Fisher Center Prize at Berkeley for Business Analytics; and named one of the Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine.
Listen in wherever you get your podcasts or here or watch it below.
I was interested in how what we often perceive as a hardware company has embraced digital. As he recounts, data and solutions help engineers and technicians make decisions with more clarity, faster and support predictive needs of the customer in the services world. Predictive capabilities improve the operational performance of Boeing customers’ fleets, improve crew scheduling, and help with fuel optimization. As he says, “You take a business metric that drives your business, and then you describe what success looks like. You go all the way back to how you do the work. We can think of and we can innovate around digital to make things that much better.”
Boeing is a customer-centric organization. As Ted relates it, “we deliberately designed our services around key segments that serve our customers. That includes supply chain, training and professional services, engineering, global technical operations and digital data analytics…we believe that our domain platform, and knowledge around the world, is unrivalled and allows us to provide this customer-centric solution.”
With startups and billionaires investing in commercial space travel, how does a long-time aerospace company continue to innovate in the sector? NASA is a customer of theirs and they continue to contribute to the International Space Station. Ted cautions about the race for space and believes that their legacy of development trumps the current push to get more people into orbit. “Nobody needs to be in a rush to do this. We just need to do it right.” He sees Boeing’s recent $450 million investment in Wisk, an autonomous air taxi as a good and responsible example of partnership in future tech. “They have a lot of experience in building these types of vehicles, and know the regulatory aspects and safety aspects of them.” Good thing, as the fully-autonomous plane market could be $4 trillion by 2035
Our conversation segued into his thoughts on talent development and promotion of STEM education. He often speaks to schools about diversity and inclusion (DEI) and is a part of Boeing's Racial Equity Task Force. To him, it’s a mistake thinking that math skills are the only pathway to the future job market. “It’s not just about being good at math, it's about being a great problem solver. Engineers, what we do is we solve problems. And it takes a lot of people with a lot of different skills to solve problems, people that understand culture, and how people operate and their behaviors, along with people that understand the traditional elements of physics and engineering, along with people that understand how to work with the regulatory environment around us so that we can bring innovation to life.”
His words of advice for the future of work?: “I'd encourage anyone to think about what your passions are, figure out what your superpowers are over time, and how you can apply them to something fun and technical. And when you're starting off, the most important thing that you can do is expose yourself to a whole bunch of different things.”
About the Reboot Chronicles Podcast
Hosted by Dean DeBiase. The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles.
About Dean DeBiase
Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here:www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean.