A Work Ethic Built on Pride

By Carmen Brown

October 2016

I started my first full-time position at Boeing on May 23, 1977, in a group called Major Outside Production. This group procured some of the most expensive items that went on an airplane, like the landing gear, struts, stabilizer elevators, wing ribs and chords, and flight and ground spoilers, power packs that went on the engines and section 46, which is the aft section of the aircraft.

In an organization of about 335 people, there were about 14 people in my immediate work group. There were 10 men and three women. I was the youngest in my group and was considered a trainee. The titles were buyer, buyer associate and buyer trainee. I was a trainee straight out of college -- I was 23 years old. The requirements to be a buyer at Boeing had recently changed to where Boeing was requiring a college degree to become a buyer.

The work ethic was everyone came to work on time -- was there before time, really -- and had their desk cleaned and ready to go at the 7:30 start time. Everyone left at 4:00 unless there was designated overtime, which had to be approved on a daily basis. We took a 40-minute lunch hour, and our manager patrolled the office to make sure everyone was in place performing their normal daily work tasks.

The manager did not leave his office often except to attend meetings or come and ask questions of the persons actually doing the job. The manager occasionally checked the status of a supplier's shipments or tracked the AOG's (Airplane on the Ground, which meant an aircraft was out of service and not generating income for the customer that bought the plane). Our goal was to make sure that the quality of the aircraft and the service that went along with that airplane delivery was extended to every customer or airline that procured a Boeing aircraft.

I have made some friends here and lots of memories here. I worked on the merger between McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, on some of the IT projects to reduce some services so that the company was not paying for the same service twice. I was the procurement agent that did the first Internet contract here at Boeing, negotiating with AT&T for services throughout the U.S. I was the procurement agent that negotiated the first contract for the VoIP phones, and one of the first procurement agents to successfully negotiate with Cisco Systems for services from their company. Those things I will never forget.

This year I plan to retire from The Boeing Company. It has been an extraordinary ride, as I have been a black female working at one company for more than 30 years. My work ethic still remains the same: Come to work on time, do a good job, make sure the quality of work and services I give to suppliers and business units I support is exceptional. I believe I am leaving the company in good hands and that it should continue on well into the next 100 years.