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Next week, March 14-16, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) will be holding their Spring Supplier Management Council (SMC) meetings in Phoenix, AZ, hosted by my friends at Boeing. This will be my last AIA SMC as I will be saying “hasta la vista” to the industry, and my professional career, all-together.

I have many fond memories of my time with the AIA SMC. I will truly miss so many good friends who I have worked with, commiserated with, and helped challenge the industry, over this time! There are far too many to mention and I’m afraid I would miss or forget someone, if I did try to list all the great people, I’ve had the pleasure of working with!!!

I don’t remember the timing exactly so apologies if I’m off a year or so, but my life supporting my employer at AIA started 15 years ago, I believe, in 2008. I was the Procurement Compliance Officer with Rolls-Royce when my Executive Vice-President Bev Gaskins asked me to attend these meetings on our company’s behalf. That first conference was in Charleston, SC; what a beautiful location. I got to visit Fort Sumter which was a real thrill for a Civil War buff, and we toured the Vaught plant, site of the world’s largest industrial oven, where they make portions of the Dreamliner fuselage and ship it via the custom built 747 to Everett Washington for final assembly.

A few years later, Vaught was acquired totally by Boeing. I can’t get past the irony that in essence my first, and last SMC, will be hosted by the same company Boeing; clearly a, or should I say THE, leader in our industry.

I have been blessed to visit many wonderful cities in this fine country, and sit talking strategy with many of the very best companies in aviation and aerospace.

I have enjoyed my time at AIA so much that I video taped a testimonial for them, and I began campaigning, in 2015 at Northrop Grumman’s location, close to nearby Manhattan Beach, CA, to host an actual AIA SMC event in Indianapolis, at Rolls-Royce. I actually failed in this campaign, but fortune ultimately resurfaced with me victorious in this effort. So, in 2018 when Rolls-Royce, along with a great partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), hosted the most successful and widely attended AIA SMC in history, at that time.

*To be totally honest, Boeing’s SMC in Seattle, a year or so earlier, had a few more people in attendance…BUT…roughly 25% of those who attended were Boeing employees. At Rolls-Royce, we limited the attendees from our company and in doing so, we achieved the distinction of having the most non-host people in attendance ever!!!

One more point in an effort to be truly transparent. You may be noticing that I have made several references to my employer Rolls-Royce, but yet my LinkedIn profile says I work for GE Aerospace. In another ironic twist, I retired from Rolls-Royce in early 2019, thus ending my time on the AIA SMC’s Executive Committee’s elected seat, held by Rolls-Royce. Shortly thereafter, one of my former Rolls-Royce leaders, now with GE Aviation at that time, offered me a job at GE. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join the world’s largest jet engine manufacturer, so I agreed to come on board at GE in July of that year. Ironically, at this time, this particular leader actually held the AIA SMC Executive Committee seat for GE. Knowing that I had held that position previously, he asked me to take his seat on the AIA SMC Executive team. All told, I was off, and back on, the AIA SMC Executive Committee, in a span of less than one month, representing two different companies.

This has been a wonderful ride and I have loved every minute of my time with the AIA SMC. There are so very very many wonderful companies and people amongst the AIA SMC, that I could spend an hour listing everyone and still miss many key people. I have served on many committees and working groups. I have developed special bonds with these folks and helped our industry improve and share best practices.

Most importantly, I love these people and all that they do to provide for the Warfighter, protect the Taxpayer, and make the Aviation and Aerospace industry the leading economic producer for this great country of ours.

Thank You teammates, customers, suppliers, “competimates,” AIA, and DEAREST FRIENDS, for this incredible 15-year ride!!!

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