July 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 3 
Special Features

It's a small world

How external technical affiliations foster technology, careers


Marlene Price Through her involvement in technical affiliations, Phantom Works' Marlene Price learned that it really is a small world.

Initially drawn to volunteer in professional organizations to "influence young people," Price has since learned that her involvement in professional affiliations is an excellent way to break ground for new opportunities.

"I owe my current job, at least in part, to the fact that people knew me from my involvement in external affiliations. Some of the recommendations for this position came from those sources," she said.

An eight-year member of the Boeing National Society of Black Engineers External Technical Affiliations Team, she was nominated by a Boeing leader associated with that team for a 2002 Women of Color in Technology award. That nomination, which turned into a win, contributed to an offer to be the Boeing focal for that affiliation. Through that effort and others, she became known to some of the people who recommended her for her current job, where she now sits on the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) public policy aeronautics subcommittee.

"Involvement in the technical affiliations provided the opportunity to meet people, so they could learn about me, so when they saw my name in the pool of candidates for the job opening, they knew who I was and some of my capabilities," Price said.

Now a senior manager at the company's Washington, D.C. Operations Phantom Works' Government Relations Office, Price works regularly with leading aerospace affiliates, such as AIAA, and finds the informal knowledge exchange among her networks to be valuable in getting the job done.

"What I planned to get out of my affiliation activities and what I got were very different but extremely beneficial," she said. "And it's mutual. I bring to the affiliate the perspective of my experience, and that of Boeing, and the affiliate involvement provides me with insights and information I can bring right back to the job."

In sharing technology trends, changes in government policy or strategies for working with people, Boeing and the affiliate involvement influence their collective future. Boeing people take part in a variety of external affiliations, collaborating in the development of professional standards and regulations, and influencing discussions on a wide range of technical issues that affect the future direction of the company and the industry.

"External technical affiliations give individuals opportunities to continue their professional development within their disciplines and bring back emerging technologies to the Boeing workplace, while also connecting with industry practitioners and peers," explained Terri Morse, director of External Technical Affiliations at Boeing World Headquarters. "At the same time, those connections build the technical credibility of individuals internally and externally, while continuing to build the image of Boeing as a leader in the industry."

Participation also allows Boeing to give back to the technical disciplines, while providing well-deserved individual acknowledgement outside of Boeing for the work the company does every day.

Dick Paul, vice president of Strategic Development and Analysis in Phantom Works, is the Boeing External Technical Affiliations focal and a member of the board of directors for the Industrial Research Institute, a consortium of 220 companies interested in innovation and R&D. The IRI affiliation is critical to Paul's work in connecting Boeing with corporate best practices, trends and initiatives related to innovation.

"IRI is about helping companies to stay competitive and to grow," Paul said. This External Technical Affiliations connection gives Paul a broad view of the policies and concerns that affect Boeing and its customers, while offering a platform to showcase Boeing leading-edge technologies and practices.

Shreekant Agrawal, a recent External Technical Affiliations award winner and Boeing Technical Fellow in the Engineering organization of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, also has played a variety of roles in professional associations. He's sat on their technical committees, judged contests and reviewed conference papers and journal articles.

Shreekant Agrawal"It's a great way to get to know people, learn about new things, stay current with industry trends, and bring that information back into Boeing," said Agrawal, an active member of AIAA and of several other organizations. An engineering manager and patent holder, he was recently honored by the Chinese Institute of Engineers for his contributions to aerospace. Boeing is a major sponsor of this organization, which advances the science and profession of engineering and promotes the development of engineering projects. "Active Boeing members of these organizations help our image and show that we are contributing members of the community."

Affiliations such as these also offer Boeing the opportunity to reach out to students from primary school through college, which can lay the groundwork for developing the next generation of scientists, engineers and experts who will shape the aerospace industry's future.

In addition to partnerships within the industry, the company fosters relationships with universities, research institutes and professional affiliates worldwide. Those connections help Boeing to shape-and be shaped-by industry best practices, future technologies and new ways of thinking. The enterprise can then better understand the markets and industry, strategic direction, and how best to navigate changing environments.

"A company's legacy is based on the extent to which it has shaped the market and technology," said Bob Spitzer, vice president of Technical Relations.

"An individual's legacy is based on the extent to which they have used their knowledge to make a difference to their job and the business. After all, knowledge is something you can take with you and still leave behind."

Diversity of thought, ideas, people, teams and cultures are essential to creating the innovative environment that Boeing requires to be competitive and share in shaping the future of aerospace, Spitzer said. By connecting the creativity and vision of its people with emerging technology trends, Boeing helps to define the industry and respond to customer demand. These relationships are increasingly global in scope, as Boeing actively reaches out to universities and technical groups wherever the company does business.

Affiliated organizations are Boeing's critical partners as it pursues a shared commitment to shaping the aerospace industry.

"It helps that our leadership clearly believes in this," Price said. "It's a critical part of the Boeing business strategy."


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