By: Tim Erblich, CEO, Ethisphere
Dennis Muilenburg (pictured right) is chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company. He oversees the strategic direction of the Chicago-based, $93.4 billion aerospace company. Muilenburg became chairman of the board in March 2016, chief executive officer in July 2015 and president in December 2013. More on Muilenburg below.
Founded in 1916, global aerospace giant Boeing is now in its second century as one of the most dynamic companies in the world. Ethisphere CEO Tim Erblich chatted about leadership, business ethics and customer relationships with Boeing Chairman, President, and CEO Dennis Muilenburg.
Tim Erblich: Now that Boeing has entered its second century, can you tell us about what the journey looks like from here?
Dennis Muilenburg: The journey looks incredibly exciting. Boeing is stronger, more innovative and more focused than ever in our mission to connect, protect, explore and inspire the world. We operate in a marketplace that is large and growing. Across commercial airplanes, defense, space and security, and services, we forecast an approximately $7.6 trillion market over the next 10 years. Across the company, we’re building more efficient and capable commercial airplanes, delivering smart solutions to our military customers, creating new life cycle services solutions, and investing in things like automation, additive manufacturing and data analytics to improve productivity, drive first-time quality, eliminate rework and improve workplace safety.
We’re also innovating how we design, build and support our products and how we work together as a One Boeing team. I have great confidence in our future because we have skilled employees around the world who do amazing work every day. It’s through their collaboration, innovation and passion that we’ll lead in our second century and achieve our aspiration to be the best in aerospace and an enduring global industrial champion.
TE: How do ethics and compliance play a role in helping to get you there?
DM: There’s no question that a company’s fundamental values directly affect its ability to achieve and sustain high performance. At Boeing, our work matters to passengers flying aboard our commercial airplanes, to astronauts operating at the edge of space, and to members of the armed forces who rely on our products and services to complete their missions safely. Given the importance of our work and the excellence it demands, it’s equally critical to feel proud of how we do it. That’s why we consider our Boeing values of integrity, quality, safety, diversity and trust, among others, integral to the work we do. As a constant reminder that there is no trade-off between what we do and how we do it, we placed our Enduring Values at the center of our company vision. To help us keep that focus, we also have year-round reminders to discuss what it means to work ethically and compliantly, and we provide our teams with tools to help them perform that way. This includes the Boeing code of conduct, team meeting materials and our annual ethics training, where I personally lead a companywide discussion that incorporates real situations that highlight ethical dilemmas and outcomes.
TE: With fierce competition from established players in your industry as well as new and nimble upstarts (SpaceX, Blue Origin, etc.), can you talk about how the history and longevity of Boeing help provide a competitive advantage when it comes to creating the right culture of integrity? For example, as a more mature company you’ve had many experiences over the years — good and bad — that startups likely haven’t yet experienced.
DM: No one wants to learn a lesson the hard way but missteps can be powerful motivators for change, and every challenge we face is an opportunity to improve. That applies to everything from delivering the next aerospace innovation to compliance. Whether we’re competing in one of our more traditional markets or working on new innovations in leading-edge areas, our values sustain us and remain our guideposts. Quite simply, when we get our values right, it enables our strategy for the future. If we don’t, we can’t succeed.
We also aren’t content to rest on our past experiences. Our unceasing drive to improve fuels our focus on adopting ever new and better ways of working as a One Boeing team. By focusing on values and behaviors that have a positive and meaningful impact on our culture, we can strengthen the organization and help Boeing to reach even higher levels of performance.
More on Dennis Muilenburg
Muilenburg is chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company. He oversees the strategic direction of the Chicago-based, $93.4 billion aerospace company. Muilenburg became chairman of the board in March 2016, chief executive officer in July 2015 and president in December 2013. Until July 2015, Muilenburg served as vice chairman, president, and chief operating officer of Boeing, where he supported the company’s aerospace business operations and focused on specific growth enablers, including important global relationships, leadership initiatives and development program performance. Muilenburg, who joined Boeing in 1985, spent the first 15 years of his career in the Puget Sound region of Washington, where he held a number of program management and engineering positions in support of both the commercial airplanes and defense businesses.