Volume 04, Issue 6
'It's like no other program'
Enterprise Audit Program helps develop tomorrow's leaders
BY STEPHANIE MUDGETT
For her first 17 years at Boeing, Carolyn Nichols worked on the F-15 and F/A-18 programs in St. Louis. She wanted to move into a program management role but found she didn't have experience with elements of program-management best practices.
To help get that experience, Nichols applied for and was accepted into the Enterprise Auditor Program—a leadership-development program run by Corporate Audit, part of the Office of Internal Governance. After finishing the two-year program this summer, Nichols is now the program manager for the Sweden C-130 Avionics Modernization Program, based in Long Beach, Calif.
"EAP gave me extensive exposure to the necessary (program-management) practices," she said. "It's like no other program, and it sets the standard for executive development programs globally."
As shown by Nichols' experience, EAP aims to deliver value and develop leadership. Employees who are accepted into the program achieve these goals by spending two to three years undertaking challenging assignments at different Boeing sites, both in the U.S. and internationally. Whether employees are from Engineering, Finance, Procurement, Manufacturing or other business functions, the program offers insight into the Boeing businesses and how they operate.
Created in 2001, the EAP merged in 2003 with the Executive Development Program to produce a more focused leadership development initiative, centering on audit projects driven by real business needs.
The program takes select employees out of their previous jobs and places them on the Enterprise Audit Team. Applicants must have a minimum of three years business experience and be sponsored by a vice president; applicants are assessed for their ability to communicate, think analytically and critically, work as part of a diverse team, and act with integrity, among other criteria.
During their term on the team, they perform Finance, Operations and Compliance audits across the company. Assignments change every quarter, so Enterprise Auditors graduate with a stronger understanding of the company's businesses as well as project management and leadership skills.
Since the inaugural class, 151 people have participated in the two-year program and all Boeing business units have been represented. Currently there are 67 employees in the EAP. A new class of 14 completed orientation last month; members already are on their first assignments.
Bob Jouret, vice president, Corporate Audit, said the program offers many benefits. "Our program creates an outstanding leadership pool by providing employees unmatched business and functional experience as well as experience working with people with different management styles," Jouret explained. Employees are provided opportunities to learn about Boeing's businesses as they perform financial and operational process audit reviews. "It creates a pool of talent, which will produce future leaders of the company," he said.
The movement of high-caliber people throughout Boeing, Jouret said, gives the company highly skilled and motivated employees. Fifty-eight percent of EAP program members have changed functions, 45 percent have changed business units, 39 percent have relocated, and 40 percent now are managers.
"All the graduates leave the program with knowledge and understanding of what works, what doesn't work and how to recognize and implement needed controls," added Jouret.
Graduates have a unique perspective on the company, thanks to their exposure to all parts of Boeing. Wendy Livingston Thomas, a member of the first EAP class of 2001, found that traveling to many Boeing locations was invaluable.
"I had always worked in St. Louis so for me getting a larger awareness of what the company does as a whole—in a very short amount of time—was significant," the former business operations analyst said. Thomas worked at locations in Seattle, Southern California, Mesa, Ariz., Philadelphia and Chicago for months at a time.
Thomas, who exited the program when a Rotorcraft management position came her way, said the Enterprise Auditor Program is an important development tool with many strengths, including networking and teaming. It also helps participants develop a career-progression plan to put their newly acquired skills to use in other roles.
"When I applied for the Rotorcraft job, they were impressed that I'd been to other sites; it demonstrated I was ready to take risk and was mobile. The program has a good reputation, and leadership sees participants as individuals who are adaptable and willing to accept risk," she added. She noted EAP leadership is committed to helping participants find positions by the close of the program.
Mike Duong, who spent three years in the program, recommends EAP for three reasons: The broad exposure to Boeing products and services, the ability to view and recommend changes to existing processes and controls, and the chance to work with current and future Boeing leaders.
Duong said he held engineering roles on several space-based-platform programs in Southern California. But during the EAP, Duong worked with employees from many Boeing organizations and business units and traveled to multiple Boeing facilities.
After his time on the program ended, Duong, now based in Seattle, was offered a position as the SSG Global Financial Services manager, reporting to the group's controller. Duong found many things from the program useful for his current job.
"As a member of the Corporate Audit team, I was trained to leverage my analytical skills to look at processes and controls, and taught how to make recommendations that helped improve the accuracy of the financial information and efficiency of operations, and ensure compliance of the organizations being reviewed," he explained.
Jouret credited a committed audit team made up of professional auditors and EAP participants for the program's overall success.
"Our business model is to have a strong professional staff with detailed audit, customer and product knowledge," he said. "This, combined with the functional skills of the Enterprise Auditors, allows us to meet our primary requirement, which is to perform an outstanding audit function for The Boeing Company."
"I found the exposure to the operations of the company from a micro to a strategic macro level incredible," said Nichols, the EAP graduate who's now with the Sweden C-130 Avionics Modernization Program. "Gaining exposure to our executive leadership to understand their strategies for increasing market share in our industry is very valuable."
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