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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Guest Blog Post: The Boeing Company

Veronica Cavallaro directs Research and Measurement activities for Global Corporate Citizenship at The Boeing Company, working with various stakeholders to collect and analyze meaningful data to both inform strategy and demonstrate the effectiveness of our work.

Before joining Boeing, Cavallaro served as chief quality officer at Illinois Action For Children. She began her consulting career at Arthur Andersen working in the areas of bankruptcy, forensic accounting, white-collar crime, and litigation support. She gained significant perspective and experience in management consulting and audit through her work in Europe, Asia and Mexico. Additionally, she spent several years consulting to Illinois-based organizations in the areas of workforce development, technology, transportation, education and housing. Cavallaro is qualified as a Certified Fraud Examiner.

As I sit here at the beginning of a new year, I pause to think of what we are achieving as CR practitioners and how that relates to our business at The Boeing Company. Just before the holiday break, our new generation 787 aircraft took flight. For our company, this was a major achievement in a year where good news in the business world was tough to come by.

As an employee working in our corporate headquarters in Chicago, I am not directly involved in the production of the 787. Most of our workforce on that program is located in Puget Sound (Washington). The first flight of that aircraft was a milestone in a long list of milestones for that program. But this milestone was different.

It didn’t occur to me how different this milestone was until after the plane flew. Certainly, watching the reaction of our employees as the plane took off was emotional and delivered an overwhelming sense of pride straight across all 155,000 of us. Designing and producing an aircraft is a monumental effort that takes people with varied skill sets and perspectives to bring everything together successfully. It takes time, a laser-like focus on the goal, and perseverance.

The first flight was surprising to me because of the attention it garnered from people who do not appear to have a vested interest. Friends and acquaintances from around the world contacted me offering their congratulations. It made me realize that the level of visibility of that singular event was truly global and people from all walks of life took interest.

Having grown up in Detroit where the workforce was linked in some way to the auto industry, I don’t recall a similar excitement from the announcement of a new car. Sure, everyone has their favorite car or car line and new releases are causes of delight for some, but I can’t think of another example that has caused people around the world to connect and be excited. Boeing’s products over the years have tended to do this…from the birth of the company back in 1903 to putting shuttles and satellites in space, to revolutionizing commercial aviation with the 787. It is an amazing and humbling experience to be a part of this rich history.

So, back to my comment about how rarely we have received good news this past year. Perhaps people are just looking for something positive to hold on to. Perhaps these well wishers are actually stakeholders of a different sort? Is it possible that the traditional view of stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers - is due a rethink or expansion?

Presumably, the folks who contacted me are customers of our airline customers and see the 787 as the product it is – a new generation aircraft that will connect people and places together. However, it strikes me that perhaps the interest people have taken in this plane is due to something much simpler. Maybe people have hungered for a success story and after a year bombarding us with negative news, this is the type of success story they have been waiting for.

Relating back to CR, the opportunity for people to feel good about something – as alluded to in several posts on this blog – is an important element of employee engagement. Perhaps more importantly, it is part and parcel of the human condition.

1 comment:

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