3 keys to mission success
Early in his U.S. Navy career, Alejandro “Alex” Campos had a couple of revelations. First, he realized he had a knack for noticing details. Second, he knew he wanted to work for Boeing one day.
As an aircraft mechanic based in San Diego, Alex spent his deployment examining just about every component of complex aircraft systems. He frequently worked alongside teams from Boeing, who helped him ensure aircraft safety and quality. “I always admired their skills and thought highly of their service,” Alex said. “I knew my future had to be at Boeing.”
Following active duty, Alex continued to serve in the Navy Reserve, but he moved back to his home state of Alabama and earned a degree in supply chain management. He joined Boeing full time as part of a rotational program that gives new employees experience across multiple financial disciplines.
Today, as a contracts administrator for the Missile and Weapon Systems division (MWS) supporting programs like Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD), Alex works with the customer and Boeing teammates to support homeland defense. “On this program we are all about 24/7, year-round weapon availability,” Alex said. “That’s the mission; that’s what guides us.”
It’s a job for which he feels highly suited, thanks largely to his military background. Whether reviewing GMD contracts for Boeing or continuing to fine-tune aircraft on Reserve duty, Alex is grateful for the skills and experience he gained in the Navy. For him, serving the warfighter comes down to three fundamentals.
1. Know what the customer wants.
Contracting letters spell out, usually in great technical detail, exactly what the customer needs. Translating those requirements — to ensure first-time quality — is a job for Alex and his Contracts colleagues.
“Being on the other side taught me how the customer speaks and thinks,” Alex said. “It feels really good when I can bring that perspective to our team so that we go deliver exactly what is needed.”
Exceeding customer expectations, Alex emphasized, is about much more than excelling at technical requirements. “Customers want to be informed and involved,” he said. “If an issue pops up, they want to know right away what is happening and what we’re doing to fix it. They appreciate the transparency and being part of the decision-making.”
2. Don’t wait and see. Lean in.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created sudden, profound uncertainties everywhere. For the global defense community, there were plenty of questions about the best way to maintain readiness. Alex is proud of how Boeing has responded throughout the crisis.
“There was so much ambiguity in the world, but we didn’t sit back and wait for someone to figure it out,” he said. “We started thinking about potential impacts to our people, our customers and our product, and we started making plans.”
The top priority from day one, Alex said, was to keep people safe. Boeing worked alongside affected customers to implement precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including finding additional facility space so teammates could maintain physical distance from one another.
“Boeing also provided customers with robust contingency plans,” Alex said. “We showed our commitment to safety and our willingness to lean forward and support them.”
3. Meet the moment, but always keep an eye on the future.
While Alex spends much of his time ensuring the MWS weapon systems are mission-ready today, he’s ever mindful of tomorrow.
“It’s easy for people to get overly focused on the now and not consider the future,” Alex said. “My job is to understand the acquisition process, from start to finish, and identify any and all risks. If a part with a long lead time needs to be ordered today or budget for future work needs to be secured now, I’m letting my teammates and the customer know that.”
Alex’s penchant for long-term planning grew while he was maintaining aircraft in San Diego. He learned to pay close attention to what each aircraft needed in the moment but also what the aircraft needed to operate safely and effectively thousands of flight-hours into the future.
“You might zero in on one piece of the aircraft for a particular job, but you’re always thinking about the big picture.” Alex said. “You’re ultimately thinking about mission readiness.”
For Alex, product is only one component of mission readiness. A great product is all about great people, he said, noting how much he admires the talent he sees in his Boeing colleagues and is inspired by their dedication to the missile defense mission. Alex is committed to maintaining a first-class team, having volunteered to be a Boeing liaison to his alma mater, the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
One of his favorite engagements in that role is the Boeing New Business Challenge, an event in which undergraduates and graduates develop and present entrepreneurial plans, competing for up to $15,000 in scholarships. Alex officially serves as a judge but considers himself more of a mentor, as he and others give contestants feedback on their business plans.
The way Alex sees it, the competition is an opportunity to open the students’ eyes to what is possible — and, like himself earlier in his career, help inspire their own “aha” moments.
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