Up Close and Personal: Boeing
employees share their work, life experiences
1. Shelly De Jesus - Diversity makes
for strong team
2. Dr. Erick Hisken - Benefits affect course of director's
3. Pam Valdez - Combining benefits to help students
4. Pat Owen - Call, referral bring relief
5. Andy Miller - Virtual leadership
6. Woody Johnson - Education and starting over
7. Jason Anderson - Aiming high, prerequisite for education
8. Christy Paino - Graduation? Getting warmer!
9. Cathy Keaton - Wellness works
10. Joyce Walters - 'Incredibly generous' benefits
11. Connie Blackford - Planning for the future
The world in a
in C-17 Wing Assembly has afforded Shelly De Jesus the opportunity
to work with people of many cultures, nationalities and perspectives.
"I've developed many wonderful working relationships with teammates
who have diverse backgrounds: African American, Latino (Mexican
American, Spanish decent and Puerto Rican), Asian (Laos, Vietnam,
Filipino) American Indian and Middle Eastern," De Jesus said. "Throw
me in the mixas one of 12 female managers out of about 110and
we really were a unique team for the production arena."
Over time they bonded as a team. Looking out
for one another, bantering and sharing life's ups and downs. She
realized that as you work side by side on common goals, differences
"The Leading Edge Team was noted for its exceptional
performance, quality and unity," De Jesus added. "I concluded that
it was the diverse perspectives of each member that made this a
strong team. Southern California is one of the most diverse areas
in the U.S. As our world expands, I hope that other Boeing sites
will have the opportunity to experience this benefit of the amazing
cultural diversity that makes up our workforce."
dreams: How Boeing benefits affected the course of director's life
Dr. Eric Hisken, the director of Health, Benefits
and Work/Life for Boeing, has lifelong, first-hand experience of
the value of Boeing benefits.
"My father was a 30-year Boeing employee," Hisken
said. "Throughout my childhood, my family was glad to have Boeing
benefits, but it was during college that I came to understand their
While Hisken was working on his undergraduate
degree at the University of Washington, his father became very ill.
"His condition required multiple surgeries, and he had to be out
of work for an extended period of time," Hisken said. "Had it not
been for his Boeing benefits, which paid for his medical care and
provided long-term disability compensation, I would have had to
quit college and go to work to help support my family."
Because of the benefits, Hisken was able to complete
his undergraduate degree and go on to medical school.
"Needless to say, it impressed me that my family
was able to carry on, affording me the opportunity to finish my
education," Hisken said.
Fortunately, the elder Hisken recovered from
his illness, returned to Boeing, and finished his 30-year career
as a manager at the company.
"And, when my dad retired 15 years ago, I saw
what a difference Boeing benefits continued to make in his life,"
said Hisken. "Thanks to his [Voluntary Investment Program] savings
and his pension plan, he was able to enjoy his retirement, including
some traveling he had always wanted to do, and buying a small cabin
on Whidbey Island."
As a 17-year employee now himself, Hisken also
has experience as a customer of Boeing benefits.
"I enjoy real peace of mind when I think about
my teenage son and daughter," said Hisken. "They have a level of
security in their lives and future prospects that wouldn't be there
if it weren't for Boeing benefits."
Hisken's experience with Boeing benefits helps
him in his current role as director of Health, Benefits and Work/Life.
"I understand how important the company's benefits
are to the families we serve," Hisken said. "They've decisively
shaped the quality of my family's and my life, and I know they're
equally important to every other member of the Boeing community."
benefits together to help students
That's how Pam Valdez, F/A–22 training system
manager, describes the value of putting Boeing benefits programs
together to sponsor scholarships. "When the Employee Incentive Plan
was established, I decided to take $500 of my first EIP award and
request a Boeing Gift Match to create a $1,000 scholarship," said
Valdez. "Since then, I've created a second scholarship the same
The annual scholarships are awarded to students
at her former high school in West Babylon (Long Island), N.Y. One
scholarship emphasizing math and science is named for her sixth
grade teacher. The other is named for her mother and does not focus
on a particular field of study. Valdez worked with the school so
these scholarships might go to kids who "fall through the cracks"
of other scholarship programs.
"The Gift Matching program is so generous, I
plan to continue supporting these scholarships even if I don't get
an EIP award in the future," Valdez added. "The best part is going
to the ceremony and meeting the kids. To meet the scholarship winners
and to receive thank-you or heartwarming letters over the years
is so rewarding. Even a small donation can make a big difference.
I encourage other Boeing employees and retirees to take advantage
of the Gift Match program."
call, referral and relief
do you turn when your ill, elderly parent is halfway across the
For Pat Owen, who works in telecommunication
services in the Shared Services Group in Bellevue, Wash., the answer
turned out to be easy.
She turned to the internal Boeing web where she
found a link to "Live and Work Well." She phoned the toll-free number
"I was desperate. I didn't know where to begin,"
Owen and her siblings had been worried for months
about their mother Margaret Owen. The 82-year-old widow in Kansas
City, Mo. had lost 60 pounds in a few months. "She was just fading
away," Pat Owen said. "We didn't know why."
Then, in the fall of 2002, Margaret Owen was
Owen found a counselor through the toll-free
number who specializes in issues concerning the elderly who provided
referrals for doctors in Kansas City.
"She was so nurturing," Owen recalls. "I was
pretty wobbly, and she was really compassionate."
Since then, Margaret Owen has done better.
"It's great to know that kind of service is out
there. I'm grateful Boeing provides that kind of help."
the way we do our work
Miller lives in Arizona, and for more than two years, this director
of Computing Infrastructure Services – SoCal Integrated Defense
Systems has led a virtual team of about 400 people.
Thousands of employees companywide are moving
into a virtual environment. Evolving network-centric technologies
allow teams of people to collaborate on common projects around-the-clock
and around-the-globe. Miller's team members work in Southern California,
Alabama, Texas, Florida and Arizona, with additional members in
Wichita, Colorado and the Washington, D.C., area.
Miller said that in the "virtual environment,"
developing trust and good collaborative relationships are more important
Working "virtually" means the emphasis is on
managing information rather than managing people.
Managers need to become proficient with new enabling
technologies that allow them to stay in touch with members of their
group, Miller stressed.
like starting over
1996, Woody Johnson got some rough news when he started back to
Twenty-five years ago, he was just starting his
senior year at University of Arkansas, when he left to go to work
full time. But when it came to transfer his credits to Wichita State
University, he discovered that the accreditation rules had changed
and he was practically starting over as a freshman.
"But that was all right," Johnson said. "Fortunately,
I'm in a great organization that accommodated my school schedule,
and supported me as I worked on my degree.
After 24 years of electrical engineering and
wiring design work at Boeing, Johnson will graduate with a degree
in Business Quality Management and Manufacturing Technology in the
spring. He is looking forward to the opportunities this will open
"That, and a weekend without homework will be
nice, too," Johnson said.
high is a prerequisite
Anderson is coming up on his fifth year with Boeing, and if everything
works out, he'll complete his bachelor's degree about the same time.
The stock award that accompanies this completion will be a nice
anniversary present to top it all off.
As a software analyst for the International Space
Station, Anderson builds and evaluates tools for both NASA ground
crew and astronauts. He is currently working to complete a degree
in computer science at the University of Houston, Clear Lake extension.
And after that? "I'll start on my master's,"
Despite the stress inherent in having a full-time
job and a full-time school load, Anderson is philosophical:
"While school delivers some interesting theoretical
material, you learn the practical, hands-on stuff on the job," Anderson
said. "On the other hand, it gives you a chance to look at problems
in a new light."
May, Christy Paino will graduate from the University of Pennsylvania
with a Bachelor of Science in both Economics and Systems Engineering.
She hired into the company last summer, and while her final year
of school has been a challengethanks to the Learning Together
program, the tuition has been free.
"The hardest part about working and going to
school full time is that I have absolutely no free time," Paino
said. "I come home from Boeing and go right to class or dive into
Upon completing her degree, she hopes to become
a key contributor to the V-22 engineering group that she now supports
as a student engineer. Paino also plans to take a vacation to Europe
as soon as she graduates.
"And there had better not be any snow when I
get there," she said, looking out her window onto 19 inches of freshly
fallen powderpart of the blizzard that hit the Northeast in
Don't ask Cathy Keaton how much weight she's
"I've been taught to say I've 'gotten rid' of
71 pounds," said the financial accounting manager. "If I say I 'lost'
them, that means I might 'find' them again, and I hope I never do
What's she doing? She uses a combination of two
wellness services offered at Boeing: Weight Watchers at Work®
and the Boeing Health & Fitness Center.
"Weight Watchers at Work is a great program,"
said Keaton. "The point system is simple to follow, and I've learned
how to make long-term, healthy changes to the way I eat."
Keaton attends a lunchtime meeting in the building
every week. "I don't have to travel to and from an outside location,"
Keaton said. "I just walk down the hall."
Attending meetings with other Boeing employees
offers an added benefit. "If you're having a bad day, you know who
you can ask to go for a walk around the block," Keaton said. "We
help each other stay focused on the goal we all sharefeeling
better about ourselves."
Better nutrition is only half the picture. Keaton
also follows a program of regular exercise at the Fitness Center.
"For me, the group exercise classes work really wellespecially
kickboxing," Keaton said.
Walters is fairly savvy about financial issues; after all, she's
a community investment manager in Puget Sound. Even so, she was
surprised to learn how generous Boeing benefits can be.
Walters has worked at Boeing 15 years. Until
this past winter, however, she never scrutinized her health benefits.
In November 2002, Walters' doctor informed her that she needed major
surgery and six weeks to recover.
She didn't know how much the medical bills would
be. But because she had accrued unused vacation and sick leave,
she assumed she would tap into that store.
Instead, she was pleased to learn that a combination
of Boeing benefits paid for all but a small fraction of her medical
bills, and for her salary during her time away from work. She received
short-term disability. Her unused sick leave covered the balance.
"I always knew we had a good benefits package,"
she said. "But until I had to use it, I hadn't realized how incredibly
generous it was."
for the future
I retire at 55, will I have enough saved up to last me through 40
years of inflation and health care costs? Will I be able to travel?
Will I be a burden to my family?" Connie Blackford, an administrative
specialist with Employee Services Business Operations, Business
Systems Analysis, wonders aloud.
Blackford has turned her doubts into an aggressive
search for knowledge. And to her delight, she's found a number of
classes offered by the Boeing Education Network that are free, close
to her location, and easy to arrange.
"The BEN class I took on the subject, 'Your VIP
(Voluntary Investment Plan) at Retirement' offered us access to
the services of a professional financial planner for free," Blackford
said. "I just signed up for two more classes, 'Life by Design: Making
the Next Chapter the Best' and 'A Financial Planner's View of Your
BEN courses are available for active employees
"People are living longer," Blackford said. "And
I hope to be one of those people. But it's occurred to me that I
need to be actively studying financial planning options now, even
though I may have 20 years or more of full-time work.
"In fact, I wish I had started sooner."