In this episode, we talk to Theodore (Ted) Colbert III, Executive Vice President of The Boeing Company and President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Global Services about diversity in engineering, how diversity can benefit an engineering firm, and how engineers can help promote diversity through mentorship. Ted also received the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA), on Saturday, February 19th in Washington D.C.
Here Are Some of the Key Points Discussed About Diversity in Engineering:
- Fit matters. Many people try to force themselves into a particular role or company even though they are not a good fit. Experiment early in your career to find out what you do and do not enjoy. Trying to find your strengths in others is a fool’s errand. Listen to yourself. You know what you like and what drives you. Those are the things that match your skills and talents. Spend time to further develop them. Everything is not forever, and you must step up and make changes sometimes.
- Diversity, equity and inclusion is a force multiplier for performance. Companies that have more diversity outperform those that do not. Those with higher gender diversity and good policies and practices have lower staff turnover and more inclusive workforces that are likely to have better job satisfaction and commitment to the company. When you create an environment that is diverse and inclusive, it creates the conditions to have a safe place for people to bring their entire selves with them to work every day and contribute.
- When solving problems, you must use all the tools that you have. The more diverse team that you have, the higher the probability will be that you take advantage of all those tools and make great decisions.
- Boeing has a three-prong plan to root out racism, advance progress on key measures of equity inclusion, and strengthen the company’s investments to diversify suppliers around the world. It focuses on advancing equity inclusion for all, confronting racism, and building support coalition among the communities and suppliers.
- Engineers can help to promote diversity through mentoring diverse interns and in teaching them how to interact in a corporate environment, how to be engineers, how to solve problems, how to ask for help, and how to take risks and be innovative.
- The Black Engineer of the Year Award has been awarded to around 30 people and provides great recognition for the work they have done. These people overcame adversity in some way, they work hard on demonstrative results, and gave back to their communities. It shows that working hard at work and giving back to the communities does mean something and is of value to the communities. The award is there to inspire unrepresented young talent, people of color, and women to continue working in this field.
- A leader in empathy is the first-core value. Empathy is a pathway to taking advantage of the diversity of your team. As a leader, you are like a conductor in an orchestra. It is your job to take the diversity of your team and bring it together to create harmony and something that is of value to the business and the customers. You must empower the orchestra by giving them space to learn, experiment, make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and hold them accountable. You must be clear on your expectations of the people who work with, and around you.
- Mentors are important in any engineer’s career. It is an opportunity to have a bilateral relationship that is purposeful. A mentor will stretch you beyond what you think you can do. They give feedback that is candid, constructive, and helpful. They put you in the middle of tough situations and help you to grow within them to make you a better leader in the future.
- Great engineering is when people know how to take everything that they have learned and apply them to tough problems. Great leadership knows how to take advantage of the knowledge and skills that their diverse team brings to the table. Keep all your team members included and drive them to be empowered to get work done. Keep your team accountable when they make mistakes but encourage them to learn and move forward.
More in This Episode…
In the Take Action Today segment of the show, Ted talks about an action that you can do to promote diversity in the workplace.
About the Guest, Theodore (Ted) Colbert III
Colbert was named president and chief executive officer of Global Services in October 2019. He is responsible for leading Boeing’s aerospace services development and delivery model for commercial, government, and aviation industry customers worldwide, focused on global supply chain and parts distribution, aircraft modifications and maintenance, digital solutions, aftermarket engineering, analytics, and training. Global Services offers customers lifecycle solutions regardless of platform manufacturer to accelerate delivery schedules, reduce operational costs, and enhance operational efficiencies. Global Services has more than 300 locations in more than 70 countries.
Previously, Colbert was chief information officer and senior vice president of Information Technology & Data Analytics. In this role, he led all aspects of information technology, information security, data, and analytics. He also supported the growth of Boeing’s business through IT- and analytics-related revenue-generating programs.
Before his role as CIO, he led Boeing’s Information Technology Infrastructure organization, where he was responsible for developing and maintaining the network, computing, server, storage, collaboration, and infrastructure solutions across the enterprise. Prior to that, he led the IT Business Systems organization, where he managed the computing application systems that support Boeing Finance, Human Resources, Corporate and Commercial Capital Business Units, as well as the company’s internal systems.
Before joining Boeing in 2009, Colbert was senior vice president of Enterprise Architecture at Citigroup. Prior to that, he spent 11 years in Ford Motor Company’s Information Technology organization, where he held roles of increasing responsibility in the areas of program management, infrastructure engineering and operations, application development, portfolio management, and process reengineering.
Colbert completed the Dual Degree Engineering Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Morehouse College with degrees in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Interdisciplinary Science. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and serves on the board of directors of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Georgia Tech President’s Advisory Board, the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus Advisory Board, and New Leaders, where he serves as board chair. Colbert is also a non-executive board member of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).
Colbert’s recent accomplishments include receiving the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year Award; receiving the 2021 CapitalCIO of the Year ORBIE award for leadership; recognition as one of the Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America by Savoy magazine in 2020 and 2021; becoming the first recipient of the Fisher Center prize for Excellence in Driving Transformation from the Fisher Center For Business Analytics at Berkeley; winning the 2018 Forbes CIO Innovation Award; recognition as one of the Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine in 2017; 2017 Morehouse College Bennie Leadership Award for Excellence in Business; recognition as the 2016 National Society of Black Engineers Golden Torch Legacy Award winner; recognition as the HMG Strategy 2016 CIO of the Year; and being named a 2015 Ebony Power 100 honoree.
About the Host, Jeff Perry, MBA
Jeff Perry is a leadership/career coach for engineers, building mindsets, leadership, and career intentions to unlock hidden potential and remove self-imposed roadblocks for career and life. For years, he has had the pleasure of supporting engineers and software pros, from new grads to director level. Having been on the front lines in the technical world, he has been able to map out the necessary skills for becoming a quality leader in the field.
You can connect with Jeff on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffcperry/ or visit his website, https://morethan-engineering.com. Jeff also has a new, FREE, on-demand training course for engineers who are job searching or in job transitions. You can see it at https://engineeringcareeraccelerator.com.
Resources and Links Mentioned in This Session Include:
The Boeing Company
Boeing Global Services
Thurgood Marshall College Fund
National Society of Black Engineers
Courier Communications Group
Connect with Ted Colbert on LinkedIn
STEM leaders, HBCU community celebrate the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year
This Episode Is Brought to You By:
Washington State University
Washington State University’s Engineering and Technology Management master’s degree program is a perfect balance of technical and managerial education that helps prepare practicing engineers for managing projects, people, and organizational systems. As one former student noted, “The knowledge that I gained from the ETM Program helped me become a more competent, confident engineer and manager. The program greatly impacted my career and has been a key element in my continued success.” Learn more about the Engineering Management profession at etm.wsu.edu or [email protected]. Take charge of your career and reach out today.
ASME — the American Society of Mechanical Engineers — serves a wide-ranging engineering community through quality learning, the development of codes and standards, certifications, research, conferences, publications, government relations, and other forms of outreach. Becoming a member and joining the ASME community is the most important connection a current or future Mechanical Engineer can make. Members can engage with various ASME Sections & Technical Divisions, led by ASME volunteers. ASME members get access to a variety of Career Resources to help you throughout your career, whether you’re just out of school, or an already-seasoned professional. Search for rewarding engineering jobs at ASME’s Career Center or focus on your professional development by participating in live webinars on key topics. Don’t miss your chance to advance your career, enhance your professional network, and find your next ME opportunity, check out ASME on www.asme.org.
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To your success,
Jeff Perry, MBA
Host of The Engineering Career Coach Podcast