Raul was interviewed by Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Dean, UW Bothell School of Business, in July 2010.
Sandeep: Tell me about your current role.
Raul: As the Chief Customer Engineer, 747/767/777 Airplane Programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, I lead a team of approximately 80 engineers, engineering technicians, and managers. The primary role of my team is to work with customers to configure the new airplanes they purchase. In addition, my team serves as the technical liaison between customers and Boeing from the start of configuration activities through the delivery of the aircraft.
I have always been attracted to airplanes. After high school I joined the United States Air Force where I became a B-52 Crew Chief. Later, I transferred to the Air Force Reserves and enrolled at California State University, Fullerton. There I majored in Mechanical Engineering. I worked as a flight instructor and charter pilot to pay for college. I’ve also owned an air charter company and an aircraft sales company.
After college I went to work at the Douglas Aircraft Division of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. At Douglas Aircraft, I held a number of positions in engineering, engineering management, and aircraft sales. After the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing I moved to Washington State.
Sandeep: What did you get most out of your MBA education?
Raul: While I had been fairly successful, I realized that I did not have a good grounding in accounting, finance, and statistics. In addition, I wanted to gain more knowledge in other areas of management. The MBA program at UW Bothell provided this and much more.
I learned many new concepts that I was able to put to use right away. For example, while I was still in the MBA program I had an IT project at work that required funding. Using what I learned in class I put together a business case that showed that the investment was a sound one. I received the budget I needed and the project was successfully completed.
Sandeep: Why is the UW Bothell MBA special?
Raul: The program attracts students from all walks of life, with extensive experience in a number of fields. This diversity, along with top-notch faculty and staff, creates a learning environment that has few peers.
In addition, the program is geared toward a working professional. The need to miss classes due to business travel and other activities is recognized and accommodated.
Sandeep: What do you remember from your MBA courses?
Raul: Since the total experience was so rich, it is hard to pinpoint any one instance that stands out. It really is about the total experience. The lectures are not traditional lectures, but rather discussion forums where one learns from peers, as well as professors.
Sandeep: What is the biggest challenge you faced after graduation? How did you deal with it?
Raul: Not too long after graduation I was promoted to my current position. I went from being a Regional Manager to running the organization and being part of the Boeing 747/767/777 Engineering Leadership Team. As a result, my focus had to shift from a tactical one to a more strategic one. I had to successfully lead the organization while working toward a future vision.
What I learned in the MBA program helped with this phase in my life. The knowledge gained in courses on leadership, operations, organizational development, strategic management, finance, marketing, statistics etc., all contributed to my successes in the new position.
Sandeep: What advice do you have for future MBA Students?
Raul: In order to successfully complete this program, you must have the will to do it. For a couple of school years you will feel that you live, eat, and breathe MBA. The weekday evenings will be consumed by classes and homework. Weekends will be used to meet with project teams. The people on these teams will become your second family.
Use your time wisely. Plan things and stick to a schedule. Don’t fall behind. Above all, make sure that you leave time for yourself and your family.
Make it your goal to learn as much as possible, rather than just getting an MBA. Have fun doing it!