Richard Wynne ‘88
Director, Policy Analysis and Management
Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Seattle, WA
“I secured my first full-time position with a defense consulting firm in Pentagon City through the assistance of a Patterson School board of advisors member. The work was rewarding and provided my initial exposure to how Washington works, but my heart was in civil aviation. In 1990, with neither engineering nor commercial aircraft marketing experience, I landed a position at British Aerospace Regional Aircraft, launching a career in an industry that, though occasionally turbulent, has never been boring.
My experiences and education at Patterson – along with persistence, intellectual curiosity, and luck – proved instrumental in making a go of it in aviation. Even when my specific jobs (be they at British Aerospace, United Airlines, or Boeing) did not directly revolve around “diplomacy and international commerce,” those concepts and skill sets were intimately related to everything our teams did to sell and/or operate airplanes profitably and successfully.
Ironically, 21 years after leaving Lexington, my current position is the one most directly related to my Patterson education. Though the world changed dramatically since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the principles and analytical processes learned in 1988 are directly relevant to how one thinks today about free trade, liberalization, export finance, the environment, global aviation security, and every other issue we focus on today at Boeing.
I will forever be grateful to former Director Vince Davis for his insistence that we all practice delivering complex messages in a concise manner. I didn't much care for those timed sessions in front of my peers – I don't believe any of us relished them – but they were invaluable, and stand out as some of the most useful single experiences from my undergraduate or graduate days. Whether selling a plane to an airline executive or persuading a government official of the merits of a policy position, a good “elevator speech” is critical!
I encourage Patterson School students who are undecided on their career focus to consider international commerce, and in particular commercial aviation. From geopolitical intrigues in sales campaigns, to an increasingly global customer base, to complex international supply chains that require detailed knowledge of trade, currency, and customs issues, to the challenges of managing growth in a carbon-sensitive world, and much more … this is a business where the disciplines of international relations all come together to drive economic growth and jobs for millions.
I love what I do and am grateful for the preparation I received at Patterson that helped make it possible.”