Egos Parked, Customers Served

By Tom Lindberg

October 2016

Boeing: what a wonderful community to grow up in. I hadn't planned on working at Boeing when I graduated from the University of Arizona, but my best college friend convinced me that it didn't rain all the time in Seattle so I decided to give it a try. And what a wonderful experience it was.

During my 36 years at Boeing I worked in both commercial and aerospace divisions, had 13 different jobs ranging from engineering to finance to program management to marketing to sales, lived in three different countries, traveled to over 30 nations on five continents, and met countless wonderful people throughout the world. But the one thing I enjoyed the most was the "Boeing people": smart, friendly, helpful, honest, trustworthy, loyal. Egos were checked at the door. When problems developed, "everyone" pitched in. And the customer was always first.

One time we were having a Price Board on how much to charge airlines for the two-man-crew flight deck on the 767. Tex Boullion stuck his head in the room and asked: "What's going on here?" When he heard what we were doing he said: "If anyone thinks it's more than zero, send him down to my office," and closed the door. It was the right thing to do for our customers.

On another occasion a Boeing Business Jets supplier was going to miss a critical schedule milestone because the owner kept making last-minute design changes. Our customers were going to suffer late deliveries. One solution was to buy the supplier, but who authorizes something like that? It took one phone call to get a 20-minute appointment with our corporate CFO, and I left his office with a price commitment and full authority to make the purchase. It was the right thing to do for our customers.

On yet another occasion we were having trouble getting corporate CEOs to visualize the BBJ "office-in-the-sky" concept. Jack Welch and Phil Condit suggested we bring a full-scale interior mockup of the 737 BBJ to Williamsburg for the annual Fortune 100 CEO Business Council meeting. They wanted it placed by the restrooms in the basement below the meeting rooms. Jack said, "We'll sell lots of them during the breaks when everyone goes downstairs for a rest." Engineering and Operations pulled together to make the nearly impossible happen...and we did sell some. It was the right thing to do for our customers.

Stories like these abound around Boeing: Placing the customer first, and people from all levels of the company pulling together to "make it happen." I'm proud to have spent the majority of my adult life working at The Boeing Company -- growing up with people I like. An old friend once told me Boeing is a place where you can "work with your friends and have fun on the journey."

Amen to that!

Tom Lindberg visiting a customer prior to retiring in 2007.

Courtesy of Tom Lindberg