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ML Journal

ML Journal

Building Boeing’s Future

Developing talent, ensuring workforce safety, and scaling breakthrough digital transformations in production are key priorities for Boeing VP, Scott Stocker.   

Q: What is your role and focus at Boeing?
A: As Vice President of Manufacturing and Safety for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), I’m responsible for ensuring the Commercial Airplanes global production system consistently operates in an aligned, integrated, and effective manner. I also lead BCA’s focus on Environment, Health and Safety, including workplace safety initiatives.

In addition, I meet bi-monthly with other Boeing manufacturing leaders to establish projects and approaches that drive innovation and deliver a robust production system across our entire company to build the quality products that our customers expect and deserve.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing the manufacturing industry today?
A: We’re heavily focused on our manufacturing workforce and our efforts with recruitment, retention, and ongoing training remain among our highest priorities. We have made significant investments in recruiting manufacturing talent through internships that provide hands-on training, job shadowing, and career development coaching. Since 2015, we have hired more than 1,000 graduates from Boeing-partnered high schools and community/technical colleges into full-time production and assembly roles. Those numbers continue to grow year over year.

We will continue to recruit talent in critical skill areas, including mechanics and other production employees, and we have deployed hiring events, career roadshows, and our employee referral program to boost these efforts. Our goal is to help our new manufacturing teammates access the best training and assistance to help them reach their full potential, so that they can master our production systems and serve as subject matter experts across our operations. This support is also available to current employees and is part of Boeing’s larger commitment to development and growth. We offer online resources and certification courses, tuition assistance for employees pursuing degree programs, certifications and learning courses, and career foundation programs to accelerate the technical growth and leadership of college graduates and early career employees. We also offer a technical fellowship career path offering advancement with a focus on sustained technical innovation and contributions.

Additionally, the pandemic has disrupted the aerospace industry in a number of ways, and our priority at Boeing is to work through these ongoing challenges and stabilize our production system. One of the impacted areas that we are focusing on is building resiliency into the supply chain. Our suppliers are essential to ensuring a healthy and stable production system that enables Boeing to deliver safe, perfect products on time, every time. We’re collaborating with our suppliers to proactively manage supply chain quality, readiness and health, and improve delivery predictability. We’re united in our shared goal to build an agile, efficient and resilient global supply chain.

Q: What are the most important corporate initiatives you are involved in?
A: Product safety is always at the forefront of everything we do. It’s not just an initiative. It’s a passion for all of our employees. I’m also deeply committed to creating a safe and injury-free workplace for our teammates.  Delivering safe products starts with workplace safety, which is one of our absolute priorities and we are committed to ensuring that we design, build, and support the safest high-quality products in the industry, and protect the safety of our employees who build them.

We’re heavily focused on reducing ergonomic injuries and high hazard risks through investment strategies and tactical plans. For example, we’ve introduced more advanced manufacturing elements into our build process to eliminate repetitive motion injuries, such as automated drilling systems that reduce the need for assemblers to manually install fasteners.

Another priority is stabilizing our production system. Boeing operates manufacturing facilities across our commercial, defense, and services businesses in the US and around the world. We rely on Lean principles to provide the foundation for our production system to drive consistency and standards.

Finally, we are focusing our technology roadmap on developing increasingly digitized and advanced manufacturing operations. We’re investing in the future by developing this technology in key areas such as the digital thread, Smart Factory, human-robotics collaboration, and quality processes to enable breakthrough transformations across our production system.

Q: What are the most important qualities that manufacturing leaders will need in the future?
A: I think production leaders need what I’ll call “manufacturing chops” in order to be successful leading teams on the shop floor. This is a dynamic work environment that requires leaders to possess the soft skills and emotional intelligence needed to connect with teammates from all levels and from all functions with respect and authenticity.

These soft skills enable leaders the ability to communicate effectively in challenging situations, while maintaining the humility that allows them to ask for help when needed. The strongest leaders are those that acknowledge when they don’t have all the answers and then seek out those who do. This is encapsulated in Boeing’s focus on “Seek, Speak & Listen” – three habits to guide how we live our values and accomplish our priorities while building a culture of trust, care, and connection.

Great manufacturing leaders also embrace and deeply understand Lean principles and digital elements that strengthen the manufacturing system. They also build diverse and inclusive teams. Studies show that when companies establish inclusive business cultures and policies, they are more likely to report an increase in creativity, innovation, and openness.

Q: What are the greatest opportunities for manufacturers over the next five years?A: Digital transformation within the production setting remains a major opportunity for manufacturers. So far, the promises of technology revolutionizing manufacturing and creating digital factories has only materialized in limited instances, and it has not yet been scaled for widespread adoption. Too often, legacy systems remain obstacles to this digital transformation. We’re committed to leveraging technologies that reduce tedious manual tasks and capture rich, real-time data in order to improve safety and quality, while ushering in new advanced techniques, processes, tooling, and systems.

Q: What is your favourite activity outside work, or the last book you read?
A: I’m currently reading “FLY!: Find Your Own Wings and Soar Above Life’s Challenges” by Lex Gillette, a blind paralympic athlete who competes in track and field events for the U.S. Lex became blind when he was 8 years old, but refused to let his disability stop him from achieving his goals. He won a silver medal in the men’s long jump event at the 2004 Summer Paralympics. Lex’s story is inspiring and yields an important lesson for us all: Always pursue your dreams, regardless of your challenges.  M


Title: Vice President of Manufacturing and Safety, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Company: The Boeing Company
HQ: Arlington, VA
People: 141,582 Employees (Jan. 1, 2022)
Revenues: $62.3 billion (FY 2021)
Industry: Aerospace / Defense

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