Ray Conner is vice chairman of The Boeing Company and a member of the Boeing Executive Council.
In addition to his role as vice chairman, Conner had served as president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) until November 2016 when he announced his intention to retire at the end of 2017. He is working to ensure a smooth leadership transition of customer, supplier, community and government relationships, and continuity of operations and customer support. Conner also will provide strategic oversight and guidance for the company’s transition to a new, single integrated services business and remain involved in ongoing product development strategy at Commercial Airplanes.
As BCA president and CEO, he was responsible for delivering on a record backlog and overseeing the growth of its airplane programs and services. Boeing Commercial Airplanes accounts for more than 60 percent of Boeing’s total revenues and has nearly 12,000 commercial jetliners in service worldwide, which is roughly 75 percent of the world fleet.
Prior to that assignment, Conner had responsibility for leading Sales, Marketing and Commercial Aviation Services for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, having been appointed to the position in August 2011.
Prior to that, Conner was vice president and general manager of Supply Chain Management and Operations for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Appointed to the position in December 2008, he was responsible for overall leadership of Commercial Airplanes Supplier Management, Fabrication and Propulsion Systems and the Manufacturing and Quality functional organization.
For the year before that assignment, Conner was vice president of Sales for Commercial Airplanes, with responsibility for the sale of commercial airplanes and related services to airlines and leasing customers around the world.
Between February 2003 and December 2007, Conner was vice president of Sales for the Americas. As such, he was responsible for the Boeing business relationships with airline customers in North America and Latin America and for the sale of commercial airplanes to customers in those regions.
Before that assignment, Conner was vice president and general manager of the 777 program, beginning in June 2001.
Before leading the 777 Program, Conner was vice president of Asia/Pacific Sales for Commercial Airplanes. In that role, Conner led the Asia/Pacific sales team and was responsible for maintaining Boeing’s business relationships with Asia/Pacific airlines and Asian aerospace industries. He also was responsible for the operation of Boeing offices in China, Japan and Korea.
In addition, Conner served as vice president and general manager of the 747 program, overseeing a team that managed the design, development certification and production of the 747 airplane.
Before that assignment, Conner was vice president of the Propulsion Systems Division, where he led the development of propulsion systems and auxiliary power units for the entire Boeing family of commercial airplanes.
Before leading Propulsion Systems, Conner was director of Finance and Information Systems for the Materiel Division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. There, he was responsible for developing and implementing strategies to lower costs and achieve higher productivity in the procurement of contracts from suppliers around the world. Conner also oversaw information systems support for remote site networking, electronic commerce and workstation upgrades.
Previously, Conner held various other management positions in the company, including deputy director of Major Outside Production and Program Participants, and of International Business Operations, both in the Materiel Division.
As the Boeing Commercial Airplanes sales director for Thailand, Conner led a group working with the U.S. Government on political issues affecting the company.
Conner joined the company in 1977 as a mechanic on the 727 program. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University and a master’s of business administration from the University of Puget Sound.
Conner is a member of the board of directors for Johnson Controls, Inc.
In This Episode:
- The youngest of 4 brothers, he constantly competed with them during childhood and became accustomed to pushing limits
- A lack of emphasis on education leading to early struggles in the classroom and low confidence
- How goal setting, self-talk, and visualization became powerful tools for him in high school and helped him overcome his fear of public speaking
- Focusing on who he wanted to be as a person rather than what he wanted to do for a job
- Whether or not you can do anything you set your mind to
- The moment he was inspired and set his vision to become the head of Boeing
- Why he believes in being your best in every moment
- How he came to love servant leadership
- The importance of having a small business mindset while leading a massive company
- Emerging technology in aviation
- One the most difficult times of his tenure at Boeing: having to restructure his employees’ retirement plans in order to keep the same amount of jobs in Seattle
- Why having a strong personal value system can help you make tough decisions
- Setting aside time to reflect on your experiences
- The DNA he looks for in employees… it starts with courage
- Why being smart with your money allows you to be more courageous
- Why communication is key to having a successful work/life balance
- The most important mindset skill: imagery
“If you are doing imagery correctly, you are seeing and you are feeling, and that’s the movie you’re going to play.”
“It takes courage to be accountable.”
“Real peace is when you can look yourself in the mirror and say I did everything that I possibly could.”
“Growth comes when you can be honest with your self.”
“Sometimes in order to the right thing, that means you’re taking on some financial risk, hurting your business plan, to do the right thing for your customers. You have to be willing to take the heat for that.”
“You gotta be better today than you were yesterday and that’s the challenge. When you’ve done so well, to keep pushing yourself to be better is hard to do.”