Transitioning from the role of CIO of Boeing to CEO of Boeing Global Services might not look natural on paper, but in Ted Colbert’s case, there’s a lot of logic in the move.
Colbert assumed the leadership of Boeing Global Services, announced Oct. 22, when Stan Deal moved into the position of CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Colbert, who most recently was CIO and senior vice president of information technology and data analytics, has a degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and Morehouse College, and it’s that multidisciplinary way of thinking--of fusing business, technology and industrial optimization--that he’s used throughout his career.
“I’ve always had that balance of business and technology, and I’ve always led and worked with a business mind first,” says Colbert. While the business and people leadership are at the forefront, “I love technology and can geek out on really technical things,” he adds.
While he was leading one of the world’s largest IT organizations, he was responsible for cybersecurity for the enterprise and helped catalyze a digital transformation across the company.
“Over the years, we essentially taught our IT leaders to run IT as a business,” he says, which includes “focusing energy and investments on the highest value work that delivers value to the business and to our customers.”
So, taking on the role of CEO of Boeing Global Services essentially puts him “one step closer to being able to deliver value to our customers.”
Having a strong IT and technology background doesn’t hurt either, as the aftermarket becomes more digital and the need for strong outcomes from data analytics increases.
Boeing’s services business--which spans commercial, government and defense segments and includes engineering and modifications, supply chain, training and digital solutions--also could benefit from his industrial engineering approach to business and cross-functional integration. As he points out, “To continue to grow a business and find adjacencies, it requires a ton of collaboration. You don’t make decisions in isolation.”
As Boeing continues to move toward model-based engineering and a model-based enterprise, being able to flow data through design to manufacturing to services--and provide a feedback loop through the process to improve designs and safety--will be key. Colbert says Boeing will continue this focus, regardless of the status of the New Midsize Airplane (NMA), the moniker for the 757 replacement.
Colbert is not planning any radical changes for Boeing Global Services, but do expect him to continue to drive innovation and new technology enhancements--as well as continue to drive toward $50 billion annual revenues for the services business.
“Collaboration is a muscle that we use a lot. It’s a way toward getting to our glidepath of $50 billion, which is a fun, but big audacious goal that I walked into.”
He says the target to get to $50 billion is 2025. That growth will come from both organic opportunities and acquisition. He points to Boeing’s purchase of KLX for $4.25 billion in October 2018--the OEM’s largest acquisition since buying McDonnell Douglas in 1997.
Buying KLX, now called Boeing Distribution Services, taught Boeing a lot about operating distribution services, “which allowed us to better optimize the whole,” says Colbert.
“We’ve got a lot of investment in used serviceable materials; we’re looking at the future of additive manufacturing and how that can serve us from a parts perspective. That world is all about continuous improvement. That’s an area of our digital world that I’ve been involved with for a long time.”