A new challenge met with opportunity

Teammate greeted with options to grow and learn after taking an unexpected road on her career journey.

February 22, 2023 in Commercial

More than 900 people applied, only four would be invited to join – and Karriema Calhoun was one of them. Since 2021, Calhoun has been a member of the Boeing Leadership Rotation Program (BLRP), an accelerated development path for high-performing teammates transitioning into management roles. She is currently a manager based at Boeing South Carolina, after experiencing multiple jobs through the program. 

“I never thought I would work in facilities or supply chain, or think I would have as many options as there are at Boeing,” Calhoun said. “I have learned so much from my teams and I hope they learned from me, too. I know now that I can go anywhere and thrive in any space.”

Calhoun is used to thriving in challenging spaces. Prior to joining Boeing, she worked in cyber security for a government contractor — often finding herself the only person of color, woman, youngest, and the only teammate without military experience. Growing up, Calhoun skipped both the third and eighth grades to pursue more challenging coursework graduating high school at 16.

At Boeing, Calhoun was asked to stretch herself by rotating from one management job to the next every year for three years as part of the BLRP curriculum. She was surprised, with degrees in journalism and mass communication, business and information systems and technology management, to start the program in Facilities and Asset Management.  

The first thing she learned is how a manager’s role is much different than what she had experienced as an individual contributor. “I discovered early on I couldn’t do other people’s jobs for them, that I needed to rely on the expertise of my team,” Calhoun said. “They educated me and helped me make good decisions. I grew my problem-solving skills.”  

As she led the team responsible for maintaining Boeing’s South Carolina facilities, Calhoun soon came to appreciate all the things people don’t think of until something is wrong, including building repairs, landscaping maintenance, production-equipment maintenance and weather-related crises.

The pandemic made decisions even harder, but Calhoun emphasized the need to assess difficult situations and communicate with empathy. She and her team practiced  habits when considering the best way to communicate change and introduce best practices when posting signage around Boeing buildings, indicating what touch points had been cleaned. 

During her rotation with Facilities, Calhoun also worked with Boeing’s indirect suppliers and wondered what it would be like to negotiate and implement their contracts. Next thing she knew, she began a rotation with Indirect Supply Chain, then pursued a final rotation with Global Field Operations, a group that works with suppliers to ensure alignment and quality. 

In addition to rounding out her experience, BLRP has helped expand the options Calhoun sees ahead, and helped reinforce how Boeing shares her values of continual learning, community engagement and inclusive leadership, she said.

Boeing is refining the BLRP and other resources available to develop future leaders. The program will be redesigned later this year to strengthen alignment with business priorities. 

Karriema Calhoun, pictured in the gold shirt, and members of the Boeing Leadership Rotation Program meet in the Seattle area for a development opportunity in 2022.

(Photo courtesy of Karriema Calhoun)