Engineering Career Reaches New Heights For LGO Grad
By Josh Jacobs, LGO Director of Operations and Partner Integration
For Victoria De Matteis (LGO ’02), the past ten years at Boeing have been the “climb phase” in a challenging and rewarding career flight path that she recounted to LGO students and alumni in a recent web seminar called “Career Navigation at Boeing: The Sky is Not the Limit!”
De Matteis, currently Engineering Senior Manager for the 747-8 Program Airframe team, took her MBA and SM in Mechanical Engineering from LGO to Boeing in the midst of a major downturn. Since then, she’s enjoyed the company’s rising fortunes, with record aircraft orders announced just the week before her seminar. The lesson for her and LGO graduates who might navigate future cycles in large companies, she said, is to “understand how the organization evolves, and see growing opportunities for technical leadership” as the company accelerates.
As an LGO graduate, De Matteis benefited from the support network of over 50 other LGOs in Boeing. She also described how LGO helped prepare her to lead in a complex technical environment—for example, in knowing “when to stop collecting data and make a decision, and to understand the business and technical aspects of relations with suppliers.”
De Matteis talked about the satisfaction of working across her engineering area to collaborate with Boeing’s manufacturing research and development group in projects such as the introduction of a new aft door for the 777 freighter, where she helped develop new tools and introduce automated technology on the production shop floor.
Throughout her ascent at Boeing, De Matteis has sought to leverage diversity in many different dimensions. Based on the advice of her LGO network, she chose a shop-floor manufacturing role as her first job. In her unusual role as a foreign-born female supervisor, De Matteis (a native of Mexico) found she had to earn the trust of unionized employees and convince them that she was committed to the success of the whole team.
In learning about how people of different genders and cultures communicate in the workplace since then, De Matteis has aimed to understand how to “remove the noise and focus on technical decision-making” to collaborate effectively, she said.
De Matteis emphasized the importance of following your passion and understanding the pros and cons of working at a huge company like Boeing. Although a rotational program gave her an opportunity to move between “career flight axes”, one thing she learned from that experience was to avoid traversing all three at the same time. “In my next move, I won’t change my job level, network, and product line all at once,” she said.
For De Matteis, further development of the systems-thinking approaches she learned at LGO has spearheaded her growth as a leader in the past decade. She closed by recalling some of the LGO courses that are still relevant to her work, such as operations management, but focused mostly on how her “top-notch peers” in the program helped her set a course for a high-level career “cruising altitude” to which “the LGO education was intended to bring us.”