Boeing is filling jobs in its commercial airplanes unit
"Our people set us apart," says the staffing director.
"We want the best talent because it
differentiates us from the competition"
Engineers are at the top of the needs list at the Boeing Co, which is currently filling jobs in its commercial airplanes unit and others. The work the techies will handle includes systems, network and communications, software, electronics and mechanical and structural engineering duties, says Glenn Cook, director of Boeing global staffing.
Structural science is particularly important at Boeing as the corporation develops new aircraft, Cook notes. And software engineers are needed to work on the company's cyber-intelligence and unmanned aircraft systems.
Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in more than ninety countries. Its products and custom services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems and performance-based logistics and training.
"We are always hiring engineering talent," Cook says. "If I look in our requisition system and on the Boeing website where we have all jobs posted, I always see some level of engineering skill activity. And as we experience attrition from retirements, there will always be postings out there for those types of jobs."
This year Boeing expects a hiring increase in Boeing Commercial Airplanes. As it ramps up production rates, the organization will look for structural engineering talent as well as mechanical and manufacturing engineering. Boeing is also repositioning the defense, space and security side of the business, which will result in new opportunities in software engineering in the cyber-intelligence world, Cook says.
Competition for jobs is tough, he notes. "Some of the technologies we're working on are very new, so we look at it from the perspective that our people set us apart. We're looking for the best talent because we know that talent drives the company and differentiates us from the competition."
Everyone from new college grads to senior engineers can apply, Cook says. Skill and experience requirements vary, of course, depending on requisition-specific needs for the position. "Say we're hiring senior structures engineers. We would want people with ten to fifteen years of structure work with experience on a variety of platforms. As we look through their past job histories we'd want to see that they have led teams on design," Cook says. In most cases requirements are spelled out on the jobs site.
Boeing has a robust college hiring and intern program; it had nearly 1,000 interns in 2010. The company likes to see new grads with extra-curricular activities plus real-world experience like internships, Cook says.
The company is also looking for techies with military experience. "Their training, attitude and skills fit our needs," Cook explains. The company continues benefits and supports families during military deployments of its people who continue in the reserves.
Because of the nature of the work Boeing does, it's a plus if a candidate has a security clearance or the ability to obtain one.
Overall, "We're focused on people with innovative minds and creative thinkers with diverse perspectives," Cook sums it up.
Although Boeing does a lot of military contract work, people hired to fill specific contract needs don't lose their jobs after the contracts end. "When one winds down, we move the engineering talent to another program, based on what the program needs and the level of experience," Cook says.
"Folks get broad experience here. Diversity of thought helps us develop new technology. There are lots of opportunities based on our wide range of platforms."
Boeing has a multi-pronged approach to finding diverse talent. It includes college campus visits and attendance at diversity events put on by NSBE, SHPE, SWE and others. Members of employee affinity groups at Boeing help with recruiting efforts, Cook says.
A "robust" diversity and inclusion awareness program is in place at Boeing. Employees can take online workshops. Business meetings start with a "diversity moment or ethnic moment," Cook notes. The company also has a "diversity passport" series: an in-house training and awareness tool which has reached thousands of employees. Most company leaders retake it several times a year.
There are also diversity councils, teams and taskforces. Most business divisions have their own diversity councils, some led by global diversity and employee rights organizations.
Several times a year Boeing hosts a diversity summit where all the councils share their best practices and diversity awards are handed out.
There are nearly a hundred chapters of various affinity groups across the corporation, Cook points out. Set up by affiliation and region, they include the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Asian American Professional Association, Black Employees Association, Association of Gays and Lesbians, and Women in Leadership. "Most of the councils have a very robust following," Cook notes.
An enterprise-wide program requires all Boeing execs to mentor at least one employee. "We have a focus on diversity, and on moving people through the pipeline to make sure we have a diverse perspective on leaders. As a participant, I can tell you there's a lot of learning that goes on from both sides," Cook says. The program provides guidelines and the ability to track the career progress of mentees. The affinity groups offer additional, less formal mentoring programs.
A strong succession plan is in place, of interest to employees hoping to enter the executive ranks. Potential next-generation leaders get mentoring and on-the-job experience, rotating to various areas of the corporation.
Regional volunteer opportunities are plentiful. Everywhere Boeing has a major hub its businesses coordinate with their communities for outreach, and some affinity groups host their own outreach events. The Boeing website offers a calendar and signup opportunity.
The company leads the Business and Industry STEM Education Coalition (BISEC) and partners with the White House-led Change the Equation (CTEq) initiative and For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics. In 2009 Boeing announced a four-year, four million dollar national commitment to FIRST to encourage students to explore math and science careers.
"We've done extensive work with K-12 educators in communities, and some of our professional affiliation groups are doing tutoring and mentoring," Cook says. "We encourage our technical people to work with local students, especially in math and science."
Employees enjoy many work/life benefits at Boeing. There are flex schedules, with the opportunity to work virtually. There are onsite fitness centers and mothers' rooms, and several locations have service centers to help employees with their chores.
Two childcare facilities are either onsite or nearby in the Puget Sound, WA area where Boeing has several major facilities. An employee assistance program helps with childcare and eldercare services. Domestic partner benefits are available.
Last but definitely not least, Boeing offers its "learning together" program for employees continuing their educations, and the Boeing leadership center offers leadership training.
"Technology is advancing so rapidly," Cook says. "A lot of what you learned in college becomes outdated. The only way we can keep our talent growing is to keep up with the learning process!"