Navy experience, advanced degree boost Boeing manager’s career
Winding down his U.S. Navy career after 13 years, Steven Knickerbocker had only one new employer in mind – The Boeing Company.
Joining the Navy right out of high school, Knickerbocker traveled the world, starting as a fuel quality inspector before moving into operations. His responsibilities grew as he worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the Navy Region Northwest Operations command to provide real-time data for aircraft carriers and communications. He also managed escort operations for nuclear-powered submarines.
With that experience, Knickerbocker knew he wanted to join a company with a need for strategic and tactical planning, so he set his sights on Boeing. “I applied for several months and didn’t hear any responses back,” said Knickerbocker. “So I continued to revise my resume and finally received a call about an internship. Six months into the internship, I was hired on full time.”
In his role at Boeing, Knickerbocker supports Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense Services with site business-service improvements, from developing or building manufacturing space to relocating offices.
The job involves creating proposals, analyzing costs and implementing strategic plans that support the different groups and divisions within Boeing. “I like to challenge myself and I enjoy seeing new infrastructure built as a reflection of my project oversight,” Knickerbocker explained. “Right now, we’re developing 1.4 million-square-feet of manufacturing space in Everett, building a facility as large as CenturyLink Field (in Seattle).”
The new building will house manufacturing production for the wings of the 777X airplane, which are up to 110 feet long.
“We need a lot of special components to produce that type of assembly,” said Knickerbocker. He explained that the new wings will be made in the new facility, while the airplane body sections will be built next door in the current factory. “That’s what I love – this new experience,” he said. “I love the culture of Boeing – working with people who are supportive, yet down to earth, with a culture focused on people development.”
At the time he was hired at Boeing, Knickerbocker was just completing his associate’s degree, and he wanted a bachelor’s program that would give him “more of a management and leadership role.” He started working towards his bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership at Brandman University’s Bangor campus.
“Because of the staff support, the academics, and the flexibility with online and in-class courses, this program made it a good fit for me,” said Knickerbocker. “The organizational leadership degree can carry me forward, I can apply it and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
Once Knickerbocker completed that degree, he didn’t want to stop. He has completed his master’s degree in the same field, with plans to graduate later this spring from Brandman.
“I want to make a statement,” he said. “I don’t want to be just a manager, but a leader and have a successful impact on people and teams.” Once he receives his M.A.O.L., Knickerbocker has another goal: an Executive MBA. With his pursuit of higher education, he stops to acknowledge his wife Amy, and family for their support. “I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said. “Being able to juggle the different aspects of the household gave me a lot of support and motivation.”
As Knickerbocker advances in his career, he has a clear vision for what he wants to achieve at Boeing. “I want to lead the Boeing organization to a competitive advantage,” said Knickerbocker. “I know that I can support people using the best approaches and influence those to want to make improvements for the company’s future.”
A version of this story appeared first on Northwest Navy Life.
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