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National Defense University

Barbara Wilson standing in front of T-45

Photo: Steve Truesdell/Jacquin Studio

Barbara Wilson standing in front of T-45

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity

That brilliant notion, credited to Albert Einstein, certainly applied to Barbara Wilson in 2003.

The opportunity presented to her was, without question, difficult: move to the Czech Republic from her native St. Louis to become a business management director and one of the few women at a Boeing joint venture.

Wilson took the challenge, diving into unfamiliar business and personal cultures. In conquering that challenge she opened the doors to a career that has since taken her to executive suites and factory floors, the decks of aircraft carriers and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

“You must develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”

“Most of the time I’ve been the only woman and the only African-American in the room,” Wilson said. “I never let that bother me. “She added: “If you’re part of a well-running group where everyone is open to diversity and realizes that a diverse group brings different ways to see a problem, differences don’t have to be obstacles.” Wilson draws inspiration from many people, especially her parents – both happily retired, Mom a registered nurse and Dad a Boeing engineer – and several mentors, including:

Those women, in turn, are inspired by Wilson. “Barb is a natural leader,” Barnes said. “She commands respect. And she is beloved by her teammates. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious!”

This year Wilson directed her energy and enthusiasm toward earning a master’s degree in national resource strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, an element of the National Defense University. That degree, granted on June 10, complements the master’s in computer resources and information management and in business administration that she already holds.

Wilson, who returned from NDU to become director for Army, Navy and Marine Corps programs within the training and services element of Boeing’s Global Services and Support business, has a few pieces of advice for people seeking success:

Finally, be flexible and open to change, to take that leap of faith that can bring you to the next level of responsibility and leadership. You must be willing to take risks to reap those great rewards in your career.”