June 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 2 
Main Feature
Parents, military service help shape ethical code

Vanessa WilkinsVanessa Wilkins traces her sense of right from wrong to the ethical values instilled by her parents and the seven years she spent in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"My parents had definite ideas about right and wrong," recalled Wilkins, a Boeing Integrated Defense Systems senior manager in Human Resources on the C-17 program in Long Beach, Calif. "My father despised a liar and strongly emphasized that you might be punished for your actions, but it would be 10 times worse if you lied. He said that your word may be all that you have, so it has to be valid."

Wilkins has had numerous opportunities to apply those values during her career at Boeing. As a Human Resources professional, she finds herself frequently helping employees with ethics-related questions. Many of the issues employees discuss with her revolve around establishing open and honest relationships with supervisors and coworkers to help ensure that procedures are followed correctly and that information is shared freely.

Before she joined the company 14 years ago, Wilkins was a ground support electrician in the Marine Corps who reached the rank of corporal. "The Marines instilled a sense of pride and esprit de corps which will remain with me for the rest of my life," she said.

Wilkins was a surface and structure mechanic before being promoted to the Human Resources organization in 1993. In HR, she worked as a generalist in support of Production Operations for six years. In 1999, Wilkins was promoted to production manager. She then returned to Human Resources as a manager in 2002 before being promoted to her current position as senior manager.

"If you want people's trust, you have to tell the truth," Wilkins asserted. "I only remember receiving three spankings from my dad my entire life, and each time was for not telling the truth. I quickly learned that even if I made a mistake or did something I should not have done, I told the truth. This principle of my word being sacred is very much ingrained in who I am."

-Eugene Duval


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