Volume 03, Issue 2
|Around the World|
MAKING NO SMALL PLANS
Boeing France president working on EADS and Airbus home turf
BY MAUREEN JENKINS
Boeing France President Yves Galland has built a reputation for stepping up to new challenges. And day in and out he faces a unique test among his fellow Boeing International Relations country executive colleagues. Galland is responsible for presenting the public face of Boeing in a country that's home to Boeing competitors European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and Airbus.
Galland, who last month celebrated his first anniversary as president of Boeing France, wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, he likes to position his ongoing challenge in Napoleonic terms.
"He did what no one expected him to do," Galland told Boeing World Headquarters employees in April, referring to the historic French leader. "To succeed with Boeing," he said, "we must do a lot of things no one expects us to do in France."
At this session, Galland shared his country strategy and discussed his experiences since landing his post. He's certainly been challenged, as his appointment was announced at a time when relations between the French and U.S. governments were especially strained because of disagreements over the Iraq conflict.
"His biggest challenge in many ways," said Tom Pickering, senior vice president of Boeing International Relations, "is . the need to convince people in France-where Airbus is pretty much a national industry and symbol, if not a European symbol-that Boeing is a competitor with unique and valuable products that should continue to receive strong interest from the French market.
"Yves is the first to believe it isn't the size of the team [in France] but the effectiveness of the effort that makes a difference," Pickering added. About 20 Boeing-badged employees work in France, with the majority located near airports and the rest based in the Boeing France headquarters in Paris.
Like his country president counterparts, Galland is charged with building and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders, including aerospace industry leaders, government and military officials, and media. And although Boeing France is just receiving its first Community & Education Relations funding this year, building its reputation as an active and engaged corporate citizen also is part of his job.
"France is still a country where there is a strong nationalism," Galland said. But despite the current political challenges, "it's not so difficult [for the French] to have a positive opinion on Boeing efforts and the future in France for Boeing as a company."
He remembered how the French media viewed his appointment with hesitation. "At first they were very skeptical," Galland said. But now, "more and more people in the aerospace industry at the highest level are calling us to set up meetings and to try to check what is possible-and to show their interest in Boeing."
Indeed, Boeing Commercial Airplanes last month hosted a tour of more than a dozen members of GIFAS (the French Aerospace Industries Association) in Seattle.
"That is very significant," Galland said before the tour, "because there are many major aerospace companies with their CEOs that will have a very good exchange, and so they understand a little more what Boeing is. They will come back with a better understanding and be ambassadors about Boeing's new technology and perspective."
Key French journalists accompanied the group-and that's important, Galland said, because it's critical to convince French citizens about Boeing's commitment to their country. Already, he said, they're paying attention. Last year's 7E7 naming contest found that the French submitted the highest number of entries after Americans.
"That shows that people are very interested," Galland said, "and that shows too they are prepared to have a positive opinion, as long as we can communicate properly."
For sure, developing an understanding of a multinational enterprise like Boeing is no easy task. But Galland said visits to the company's major U.S. sites, attendance at January's 2004 Senior Leadership Meeting, and candid talks with business unit presidents like Jim Albaugh and Alan Mulally enhanced his learning curve, allowing him to tackle his charge immediately.
And that's critical in a country where Galland said EADS and Airbus are closely monitoring what Boeing does in France.
"Airbus knows very well that we do exist," he said, "and I think they realize that we can be efficient.
"If we don't make mistakes-that is what is important-they won't be able to answer Boeing in every country," Galland said. "Their fight is a global fight."
Within France, as in the rest of the world, there's ongoing debate about the merits of Boeing's efficient 7E7 airplane versus the Airbus superjumbo A380. "Of course, there is a big communications battle between the philosophies of our two companies," Galland said. "In my opinion, we are able to win this battle in France. There is a strong understanding about the increased frequencies and point-to-point strategy and needs."
Another area where Boeing France hopes to increase understanding involves the role French suppliers play within Boeing business. Two French aerospace firms-Dassault Systèmes and Messier-Dowty-were named 7E7 suppliers.
In addition, Boeing spends more than $1 billion annually in France through its relationship with General Electric and Snecma, one of the world's major engine-producing joint ventures. In April, GE was chosen as one of the 7E7's two engine providers along with United Kingdom-based Rolls-Royce.
With these announcements, Galland said, "we were able to communicate to French newspapers. Journalists and the aerospace industry began by being surprised, and then they began to talk much more and much better about the 7E7."
Galland said he hopes to have the chance to tell more stories like this in the future.
"From the beginning, our biggest challenge was to create a two-way street," he said. In order for Boeing to improve its image in France, he said, the company needed "to increase market share of France within Boeing as a way to increase the market share of Boeing within France. With the 7E7 I would like to begin that strategy."
Boeing's rivalry with Toulouse, France-based Airbus attracts much media ink, but in March, the American company notched a couple of impressive achievements. Air France took delivery of a 747-400 passenger airplane and a 747-400 cargo jet, and is the first operator of the new Boeing 777-300ER.
Beyond Commercial Airplanes, Boeing has built other creative liaisons within the French aerospace industry. In 2002, Boeing and competitor EADS signed a memorandum of understanding to develop solutions in global ballistic missile defense.
Galland knows there's much work ahead on the Integrated Defense Systems front, where relationships are steadily being built with stakeholders, including key journalists. In November 2002, IDS hosted key French correspondents-including those from Le Figaro, Les Echos, Air & Cosmos, La Tribune and France 2-at Cape Canaveral, Fla., for the first Delta IV launch. Boeing Satellite Systems and Sea Launch executives briefed media at last year's annual "World Satellite Business Week," promoting IDS expertise in the satellite and launch markets and offering a counterpoint to their French industry competitors.
It's only been one year, but Pickering said he's most impressed with Galland's ability to build relationships, "particularly in French government circles where his own past as a former minister of industry and a continuing Paris city [councilor] provides him access to French leaders who respect him for his background and achievement."
|Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright|
|Copyright© Boeing. All rights reserved.|