(pod) Casting for new leaders

It’s not often you get a personal insight into what it means to be a leader inside Boeing. So I want to share with you a podcast hosted earlier this year by my Commercial Airplanes colleague Sandy Postel, on behalf of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Sandy wears three hats at BCA: vice president and general manager of Propulsion Systems, Production System Strategy, and acting vice president of Manufacturing and Quality. [Update: as of August 8, Sandy has been named vice president of Manufacturing, Quality and Boeing Production System Strategy.]

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Boeing’s Sandy Postel has been recognized for her leadership by the Society of Women Engineers.

Changing hats that many times in a day is a dizzying feat. So it’s not surprising that in her podcast Sandy talks about her belief that success is measured by a person’s ability to adapt to change.

She believes this is especially true in work environments such as Boeing where technology evolves at an incredible pace.

That’s why Sandy thinks it’s vital that she, like everyone, learns every day and finds a way to contribute knowledge and leadership across all of her endeavors. So she embraced this opportunity to learn how to communicate via the Web.

In her podcast with SWE, Sandy reflects on some of the proudest and most challenging assignments she’s had in her career, such as Propulsion Systems’ recent “Move to the Future” initiative that enables continuous Lean improvement across the Boeing Production System.

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Sandy Postel confers with Belinda Williams, engineering work statement manager, about changes facing the team as they support new airplanes and technology upgrades on current airplanes. Sandy routinely meets one on one to make sure employees are plugged into new learning opportunities so they can keep growing.

As one of our many Boeing leaders who tries to “walk the talk,” Sandy makes a habit of committing time to develop leaders by mentoring new employees, females, minorities and others who are on the rise. She does it not just for Boeing, but for people in other industries through organizations such as SWE.

Why? She says it’s because mentoring new leaders is one of her own personal core values. As a result, it’s very important to her to spend time and energy “giving back” – both inside and outside Boeing.

Her hope is that women, minorities, new employees, and especially those in engineering will increase their capabilities by learning new tools that enable them to move up in whatever company or industry they’re in.

Sandy’s leadership was acknowledged late last year when she received the 2007 Upward Mobility Award at the national conference of the Society of Women Engineers. The award recognized Sandy for outstanding technical management and leadership as well as for serving as a role model and advocate for diversity. The society cited Sandy for inspiring a new generation of women engineers.

We’re proud of Sandy and other Boeing leaders like her - and we’re always “casting” for people who might become Boeing’s next generation of leaders.

Comments (13)

Jeanette (Everett, WA):

Thanks for highlighting Sandy's podcast and our need for embracing and implementing continuous change! I truly appreciate your blog and all of the fabulous information it provides and links us to. Thanks!

Arlene Brown (Tukwila, WA):

VP Sandy Postal really walks the talk. She attends events not only when she is requested to be a motivational speaker, but also as a “regular” member. Her participation in both the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Boeing Women in Leadership (BWIL) has provided an inspiration to many. You might consider a podcast with her describing her four types of mentors.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

I wish Sandy all the best and a long stay with
Boeing, keep up the good work!

Juan (Tony) Castilleja Jr. (Houston, Tx, USA):

As an intern in Houston working on Space Shuttle, I have come to appreciate every person at Boeing who knows and understands such complex systems. I have also learned the importance of giving back through my experiences at Rice, involvement with SHPE, and my fellow team members at Boeing.

I really enjoy reading stories like these, because it allows me the opportunity to see people that have done so well in the company, but still take the time to train and mentor the next generation like myself.

Melanie Taylor, RN (Charlotte, nc):

she is an inspiration even to one who is not in your line of work. I too try to mentor to new nurses, as I have been one for 30+ years. I am warmed to see someone else passing on their knowledge to the ones who want to follow behind so they too have the advantage of our experience.

Kevin Vinson (Saint Louis, MO, USA):

I am proud to be working for the Boeing Company. The Leaders and Managers that I have been exposed to all share with Sandy the desire to "walk the talk" and direct employees toward professional growth within and external to the company. All Boeing employees have the ability to progress forward in the company and gain greater responsibilities and rewards. My managers have shown me how to learn about Boeing leadership and management, team building, and working together to achieve a common goal for the good of the customers and Boeing. I encourage all to train in your off-hours on Boeing Leadership through the Boeing Learning, Training and Development (LTD) Genuine Leadership Curriculum.

Thank you again for bring this example of Boeing Leadership to the view of all within Boeing.

Maria L. Chavez (Everett, WA):

I work for another organization & have been with the company for 18 years and I'm glad to FINALLY see a people-oriented executive like Sandy for one.

I admire her for having a value system that is rare & the time & energy it takes to share & help people. It's commendable that she does her part in building a strong people foundation within Boeing where people who want to learn and aspire to do more can draw from for advise and ideas. Great to see a VP be the kind of leader that drives the organization forward , and having an engaged & motivated workforce part goes without saying.

Chris C (South Africa):

Thank you Mr. Tinseth for sharing this interesting information on yet another great lady that works for Boeing. To be honest, the first lady that comes to mind when I think of Boeing is Capt. Suzanna Darcy-Henneman.

I suppose, in part, that’s due to being a commercial pilot myself, but also she truly seems to be a great person that really is a mentor for many others, just the same as Sandy Postel. The other lady that comes to mind would be, without a doubt, your 747-8 Chief Project Engineer, Mrs. Corky Townsend! For her to be in the position once held by the honourable Joe Sutter, she certainly is a mentor to many woman I believe.

The bottom line is that Boeing has copious amounts of truly phenomenal people who all work together to continue heading for forever new frontiers and uphold Boeing as the Number 1 Aerospace Company in the world, period.

Pattie P. (Ann Arbor, MI):

I'm so proud of my big sister! Go Sandy!

Isaac J (Everett, WA):

Having been personally mentored by Sandy and worked with her fairly extensively, I can testify that she really is a leader who cares deeply about people as individuals with specific attributes and needs. In spite of an extremely busy schedule and many responsibilities, she has always taken time to interact with me on a personal level, listen to my concerns and issues, and provide guidance and counsel about how I can grow and improve. I know there are many others that have had a similar experience with her.

I think the ability to mentor, teach, and lead--and to really care about people--is truly a characteristic of a real leader, and although there are many great leaders out there (including and perhaps especially within Boeing), Sandy possesses that ability of caring to a level I have rarely seen.

Thanks, Randy, for including this story in your blog.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

A very inspiring story.

Everyone in an organisation such as this company has a unique and special contribution to make to the success of the company.

It is very important for people to give back to communities, to maintain a presence there, so that the communities that are Boeing continue to thrive, to be better - and so that the next generation can be inspired to be better still.

Normal people doing extraordinary things, it would seem. I suppose, these are not extraordinary - rather, commonplace at Boeing. You can tell.

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Chris C (South Africa) mentioned a couple of leading ladies at Boeing - here are more:

Kim Pastega
Deputy program manager and deputy chief project engineer, 777 Freighter program

Carolyn Corvi
Vice President and General Manager,
Airplane Production
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
(Carolyn Corvi is noted for many success stories - which include reduced production time on the Next-Generation 737's at the Renton Final Assembly line)

James Baloun (Palo Alto, California):

We can all learn from the leadership of people like Sandy Postel and the great work of the Society of Women Engineers. Sandy's story points to the need to encourage, inspire, and mentor fellow workers and students of all ages and in all areas of interest. After years of progressive education guided by organizations like the SWE, we still need more women in science and engineering.

With respect to technology intensive industries such as aerospace, it is important to encourage young students to keep up with their studies in math and science. I cannot overstate how much math is the key to success, not only in science and technology but in all fields. And the key to success in math is to keep up in each class, because each math class is the foundation for the next one. If a student has good grades in math they will better understand physics and engineering. Science and technology are not for everyone, but as for helping inspire a talented math student, the sooner the better.

When considering what classes to take, my parents always gave this advice, “When in doubt, take math.”

James Baloun (Palo Alto, California):

Regarding my previous post:

Math is applied theory.
Physics is applied Math.
Engineering is applied Physics.
Manufacturing is applied Engineering.
Air transport is applied manufacturing.

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