Brandon Gene Kamanaonhiky DeCoito

Brandon Gene Kamanaonhiky DeCoito image

Product Review Engineer, 787

As a product review engineer for the 787 program, Brandon Gene Kamanaonhiky DeCoito works alongside mechanics to ensure the solutions he has engineered for product issues work well on the aircraft.

“I love my job because I get to see different things on a day-to-day basis,” Brandon said. “Most engineers work on one component of the plane, but we get to see the whole airplane and review everything from system to structure, how it flies and after the customers’ inspection. It’s one of the most fun jobs you could work in.”

Brandon was born in Kaimuki, Hawaii. His father is Hawaiian, and his mother was born in the continental U.S.

“When people look at my skin tone, they assume I’m white,” Brandon said. “It wasn’t until I went to a Hawaiian-only high school that I began getting in touch with my Hawaiian roots.”

Brandon has since embraced his Pacific Islander heritage and works to apply its values of understanding others, respect, joy and family to his work at Boeing.

“One of the more traditional values in Hawaii is understanding what other people are going through,” he said. “That’s why I love my work and feel closer to my roots when I’m helping customers and teammates. I get a better understanding of what they’re experiencing and fix it for them.”

Patty Chang-Chien

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Vice President, Mission Systems & Autonomy, Boeing Research & Technology, and Electronics & Electrical Engineering Functional Chief Engineer

Patty Chang-Chien has a dual role at Boeing. As the vice president of Mission Systems & Autonomy for Boeing Research & Technology, she works with a group of researchers and scientists on advanced technology research and development efforts in the area of electronics, sensors, network systems, cyber technologies, autonomy and advanced algorithms. And as the Electronics & Electrical Engineering (E&EE) functional chief engineer, she works with leaders across the company to strengthen people, processes (including design practices) and tools in the E&EE skillset.

“I got to where I am today because I work hard, because of my education and because I aim to do the best I can,” Patty said. “I learned very early on in life that I have to work hard for what I want, things are not given to me, and I need to put my best foot forward to get things done. Of course, I have help and support from loved ones and colleagues and am grateful for the help and support I receive from them.”

Patty’s family emigrated from Taiwan in 1988, and she became a U.S. citizen in 1994. Patty said since English is not her native language, communicating with people visually is the most effective way for her to connect. Working remotely as a result of the pandemic challenged her to adapt to interacting via webcams and to err toward over-communicating and actively listening.

Patty acknowledges that the pandemic and increase in anti-Asian hate crimes have disrupted people’s lives and caused them stress.

“I am deeply saddened by the recent events, and I urge people to put themselves in other people’s situations and reflect on how they would feel if they or their loved ones were treated that way,” Patty said. “I encourage people to treat each other in fairness and in compassion, to respect differences in opinion and work together to create a better environment for everyone.”

Minnie Kim

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Avionics Systems Engineer, C-17 Globemaster III Program

Minnie Kim is part of a team that modifies existing capabilities and designs new capabilities for the C-17 Flight Management System as well as other flight deck-related systems for Boeing’s U.S. Air Force customers.

She was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the U.S. when she was 3.

“If I think about what my parents had to sacrifice and the hardships they had to go through when they immigrated to the U.S., I have so much admiration and appreciation for them,” Minnie said. “So many families have gone through the same struggles, and it truly amazes me how much strength and courage they had to come to a completely new country in hope of giving their children a better life.”

As an adult, Minnie remains close with her family. She speaks with them in Korean several times a week and also celebrates her heritage by cooking Korean food at home.

She said current events affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community make it difficult to not worry about the safety and well-being of her parents and their AAPI community.

“I hope people can learn to set aside their differences and stop the pointing of fingers against an entire race and realize that underneath it all we are all the same flesh and blood. I think it is important to understand that people come from all types of cultural backgrounds,” she said. “Coming from a Korean American heritage myself, I try to appreciate others’ viewpoints rather than disregard them just because they are different.”

Rupinder S. Aulakh

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Wire Installation Design Engineer, Boeing Defense, Space & Security

Rupinder Aulakh grew up in Punjab, northern India, in a Sikh family, which meant the men in his family wore turbans and the women wore scarves with uncut hair underneath, a sign of spirituality. But when he moved to earn his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in South India, where Sikh students had been killed the year during riots, he decided to cut his hair. And when he immigrated to Canada in the late 1990s, he continued to not wear the turban both to blend in with others and to protect himself.

“Around that time, people also used to relate anyone wearing a turban to terrorism,” he said. “I didn’t have anything to do with terrorism, yet at times I felt like a target of hateful slogans and unfair stereotypes like others who looked like me.”

But after 20 years, Rupinder realized he wanted to share his heritage and values with his children. He embraced Sikhism, grew his hair and beard out, and began wearing a turban again. And when he joined Boeing in 2006, he also found a way to help others better understand Sikh culture.

“I saw employees talk about their global cultures at lunch-and-learn events. It gave me strength to be who I truly was. I began sharing about our folk dance and Sikh scriptures and educating about my heritage and used my native Punjabi language frequently through my calligraphy artwork,” he said.

Rupinder and two fellow Sikh employees created “Living With a Turban,” a presentation he shared with fellow employees, and worked with Boeing Environment, Health & Safety on Sikh turban protocol in a factory setting.

“Boeing provided me that culture to nourish myself and my values that I had long let go. It made me brave enough to realize it’s not just about your outer look, these small external signatures also help one build his/her character. There are stereotypes, but those should not take away our focus from our goal,” he said. “At Boeing, we work on a common goal and products that serve so many people on this planet who are different, who eat different, who look different, who think different. We need to bring that different part of ourselves to work every day to make the best in what we do at Boeing.”

Angela Chen

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Trade Control Specialist, Global Trade Controls

Growing up as a first-generation Chinese American in Philadelphia, Angela Chen often felt like an outsider.

“I didn’t feel a lot of racism in my own neighborhood, but I did at school,” she recalled. “If you weren’t Black or white, you weren’t considered American. If you weren’t born in China, you weren’t considered fully Chinese either. Sometimes, I felt discriminated against because I wasn’t a true American to Americans or a true Chinese to Chinese.”

Since her parents didn’t speak English, Angela acted as both translator and bookkeeper from a young age, which she credits with helping her identify goals. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, she began her career in the Supplier Management organization at Boeing Defense, Space & Security, working with both U.S. and international suppliers. She now works as a trade control specialist for Global Trade Controls in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, where she is also vice president of the Boeing Asian and Pacific Association (BAPA), an employee-led Business Resource Group.

“When I started, I thought, I’m not joining a Business Resource Group to go hang out with just Asians. I didn’t understand the purpose,” Angela said. “It wasn’t until five years ago that I joined the [BAPA] board, and I saw how being part of this BRG benefits Boeing and my community. That’s why I feel so passionate about diversity and inclusion, because being first generation, I can see different ends of the spectrum. I want to help bridge the gap where we look at each other as one race and that we’re all human.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an increase in anti-Asian racism, which Angela and her friends experienced firsthand, she used that passion to help foster awareness and change within the company.

“I voiced my concerns to leadership to see how we could address unconscious bias. It was amazing when they listened and responded. It’s important for managers, leadership or even colleagues to be sensitive and aware of the Asian community’s experiences,” she said.

“My mom thinks I’m crazy, that I speak up too much and advocate for things that will eventually get me in trouble. ... I told her I work for Boeing; if something is flawed, you don’t wait, you speak up and do something about it!”

Jacky-Vy Chau

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Senior Manager, Airplane Systems Skills, Integration and Processes, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Pronouns: he/him/his

Jacky-Vy Chau was born in Vietnam, after his grandparents and parents emigrated from China. However, his parents insisted that their children learn Chinese and didn’t allow them to speak Vietnamese at home.

“At first I felt caught between two worlds, but I got used to it,” he said.

Jacky-Vy again experienced the feeling of being an outsider when his family immigrated to Santa Barbara, California, when he was 15. Unable to speak English at first and later with an accent, he was afraid people would make fun of him, so he chose to be quiet. He likewise faced a further obstacle, coming out as LGBTQ+, both in his personal and professional life.

“Growing up in a conservative country, being gay is not OK,” Jacky-Vy said. “I came out to my friends and family when I was 26 years old, but I wasn’t out at work. That was my first or second year at Boeing. I’d heard that if you were out at work, it could have a negative impact on your career growth.”

But his perceptions changed when he participated in the Boeing Asian and Pacific Association’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program. According to Jacky-Vy, the program both helped him realize his leadership potential and better understand effective communication.

“I realized that I don’t have to use a lot of fancy words, just a simple sentence, to deliver exactly what I want to deliver,” he said. “It made me want to push myself to take on a leadership role to open up more and be a more effective communicator.

“The more I got involved in BAPA, I also realized it was my duty to support the company to help educate people about LGBTQ+. We’re just normal people doing normal jobs. I knew I could make an even bigger impact in a leadership role. If my employees knew they had a gay manager, and there was nothing different than with their previous managers, then I could educate 10 people, and they could go educate 10 people. Multiply that — it’s quite large,” he added.

Jacky-Vy is now a senior manager for electrical design processes and tools in Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He was also recognized as the Chinese Institute of Engineers – USA’s 2020 Asian American Most Promising Engineer of the Year. He believes that if he can achieve his potential, anyone can.

“I just want to be who I am,” he said. “I don’t like labeling. I don’t like using ‘I’m Asian’ as an excuse for what others may believe I’m lacking. I lead by example and action.”

Sanh Ha

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Design Engineer, 777X Autoflight Systems

Sanh Ha is no stranger to adapting to challenges. Born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, he immigrated to San Diego with his family when he was 3. At 15 months old, Sanh had experienced permanent damage to his auditory nerves. He grew up using hearing aids and learning American Sign Language (ASL).

His parents spoke Chinese and Vietnamese. Sanh spoke English and used ASL with his brother, who is also deaf. As his family grew, Sanh often became the medium between his siblings and his parents, who did not speak English fluently. This code-switching was often exhausting, he said.

Growing up, Sahn wanted to be an auto mechanic like his father, but his father urged him to be the first in their family to attain a college degree.

“My father knew that my hearing disability would make my career path more difficult,” he said. “But he told me to work through it. He had come to the U.S. so my brother and I could get a better education.”

Years later, Sanh obtained his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and his master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Washington. After graduation, Ha started his career in Boeing Defense, Space & Security. He later transferred to Boeing Commercial Airplanes, where he currently works in 777X Autoflight Systems.

And that is how he found himself sitting by the right wing during a recent flight test for the new 777-9, monitoring incoming flight data to evaluate automated landing during calm air conditions. During the flight, a teammate signed numbers and letters back and forth with Sanh, and cued him when his name was called during roll call. Sanh said he found the experience invaluable in observing pilot actions — information he’ll apply in the engineering lab’s simulated environment and on future test flights.

“It was exhilarating,” Sanh said. “If I am the first deaf employee to do so, I hope I’m not the last.”

As Sanh and his team continue to ensure the plane’s automated systems run smoothly, he is also exploring other accommodations to make flight tests more accessible for other deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) employees.

Sanh also shares his experience and lessons learned with the local DHH community, particularly young adults who are interested in STEM.

“I used to be one of them, with the same dreams, concerns, ambitions and frustrations,” he said. “When I was their age, I wanted to meet DHH adults who held a professional STEM career. I wasn’t able to, but it’s my hope that they will be able to carry on the knowledge we impart to the next generation.”

Veronika Andrews

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Project Manager, Business Operations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Veronika Andrews grew up in the small city of Surakarta, Indonesia. As a child, she had big dreams to learn English and travel the world as a flight attendant. She learned English from her father and, after earning her bachelor’s degree in political science, moved to Bandung to work in the hotel industry. After meeting her now husband, Veronika moved to the United States, eventually joining Boeing in 2008. Soon after, she continued her education, earning a master’s in international business.

“I believe success comes from hard work, dedication and believing in yourself,” Veronika said. “I have never given up on something I want, even though there are many obstacles along the way.”

The pandemic and current events in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community are some of those obstacles — which Veronika acknowledges have greatly affected her.

“I feel sad, frustrated and filled with rage,” she explained. “I can’t change the past. No one can. But what I can do at this moment is direct these emotions into action.”

In response, Veronika created an original art piece to express her emotions. It depicts Veronika in front of the 787 with the slogan “We are Asian strong and can do more.”

Veronika believes it will take everyone working together to educate themselves about AAPI issues, stand up to racism wherever they see it, support equal voting rights, and work to build safe and inclusive communities.

She challenges the next generation to recommit to becoming more anti-racist as individuals and as a community and to roll up their sleeves to make our company, our country and our world a better place.

“I am proud of where I come from,” Veronika said. “And I am deeply committed to promoting and advocating for diversity in the workplace and in my community.”

Christine Vasko

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Engineering Execution, Vertical Lift

Christine Vasko is one of the 20 employees selected to serve on Boeing’s Racial Equity Task Force, a long-term think tank that focuses on amplifying all voices at Boeing and leading the movement to make inclusion a top priority for every teammate. Vasko said her experiences being “the only” throughout her career have fueled her commitment to the task force.

“That feeling of being alone is so challenging in my opinion,” she said. “We want to make sure that we have a focus on inclusion in the company for everyone, so no one else feels that way. On the Racial Equity Task Force, we are trying to make a difference systemically across the whole enterprise.”

Christine’s parents immigrated in the 1970s to the United States, where she was born, but would travel back to India every few years.

“One of my favorite memories, my first trip to India, I was 4. I remember being in the airport and looking at and seeing the plane, a Pan Am 747,” Christine said. “I was gazing up at it in sheer awe of the size of it.”

Since Christine grew up flying frequently, she describes working for Boeing as a “dream come true.”

“I think about, would I be here today if it wasn’t for aviation?” Christine said. “My dad moved halfway across the world, and aviation made it possible for him to do that. Would he have taken a boat to get here? Aviation opened up so many more opportunities for people. Better opportunities for a better life.”

Dave Anana

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Payloads Configurator, 787 Engineering

Dave Anana has worked for Boeing for more than 25 years. In his current role as a payloads configurator for the 787, he meets with airline representatives to define the cabin interior and livery of 787 series aircraft.

Dave credits the tenacious survival skills and work ethic of his Pacific Islander ancestors for molding him and his family into who they are today.

“The gateways to cultural inclusivity open when we take steps to recognize, learn about and understand each other,” Dave said. “Making time to learn new languages, places and travel are excellent measures to learn more about others while also learning more about yourself.”

To the next generation of Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Dave has similar advice: “Explore, seek more and prepare in order to ensure a sustainable, viable and dignified future.”

Li Chang

Li Chang image

Boeing Technical Fellow, Advanced Manufacturing

Li Chang has received many accolades and recognitions throughout his career for his expertise in high-intensity radiated fields, lightning strike protection, composite dimensional variation analysis and innovation systems architecture. In 2017 the TED organization invited him to speak at a TEDx Talk in Charleston, South Carolina, on the subject “Drive Innovation Through Cognitive Diversity.” In fact, the video recording of his presentation continues to be recognized by the National Academy of Engineering.

The premise of his talk is that if we can all learn from each other, we are not limited by absolute advantages.

“People can have a comparative advantage — they are a doctor or an engineer or have a title. But on the weekend, they can be somebody else, have a secondary skill set,” Li explained. “If we can learn how to be more creative and knowledgeable, we can all learn from each other’s diverse cognitive thinking.”

Li applies this same line of thinking to his cultural background. He moved to the United States from Taiwan when he was 14.

“I feel if I can continue learning from different people and continue expanding my comfort zone, I can be better and have more influence,” he said. “Other people can benefit from me, and I can benefit from other people.

“I am blessed to be enriched from my experiences growing up in Taiwan as well as my teenage years in the United States, as it continues to empower me supporting my dream to connect with others, grow and learn together, and improve the quality of human life across the world,” he added.

Luizane Chiv

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Quality Assurance Specialist, Integrated AeroStructures

Luizane Chiv works in quality assurance in Auburn, Washington. She inspects aluminum parts to verify that they meet documented requirements. She also serves on her site’s safety committee, seeking out potential areas of concern or hazard, listening to any issues, and taking action to build a safety culture and environment of trust.

Luizane emigrated from Cambodia in 1991 when she was 18. She spoke no English and felt too young to leave her home country — and too old to begin learning a new language.

In 2012, she joined Boeing after working for an aerospace electronics supplier. The job was new, and so were discriminatory comments she faced when a teammate undercut her accent and ability to learn a new role.

“I had such excitement for the Boeing values and beliefs and had finally landed a job that a lot of people dream of,” she said. “It felt like I had climbed a mountain and saw the summit, but when I hit the shop floor, I felt as low as an ant. My excitement dropped.”

Luizane almost left the company in her first year. She later spoke up about the comments to a manager, who listened, sought HR counsel and took corrective action, which at the time meant demoting the employee. (In years since, Boeing has changed the default discipline for Equal Employee Opportunity violations such as discrimination to discharge.) For Luizane, the experience was formative.

“I told myself I would never accept that kind of environment or treatment,” she said. “I knew I would stand up and do something about it to make it better. I would speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. My manager encouraged me to pursue management and to build up confidence, and then things changed.”

She began to pursue her twin desires of safety and leadership. She created tip sheets for newcomers and trained them. She accepted a union steward position, joined Fabrication’s safety and health site committee and Integrated AeroStructures’ diversity and inclusion committee. She also encouraged fellow Asians to speak up if they experienced any issues.

“Some Asian employees were quiet because of the language barrier,” Luizane said. “My manager helped me correct my English as I went along, and I wanted to speak up for someone who could not speak up for themselves.”

Luizane said the early discriminatory experience, while difficult, fueled her to reach out to quiet voices, regardless of ethnic groups, and to speak up and take action when needed.

“We are here walking together, not working against each other,” she said. “We have to help people by listening to them and encouraging them. In the end, we have a plane to build and parts to make. Without people, those parts will go nowhere.”

Ngoc Le

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Quality Systems Specialist, 737 Quality

Ngoc Le works in the Quality Business Management team, supporting the 737 Quality organization with business intelligence solutions. She creates interactive dashboards, analyzes complex datasets and coordinates with multiple enterprise teams to ensure standardization across all programs.

“I have helped many teams improve and digitalize their traditional method of tracking and reporting performances, resulting in an increase in the teams’ capacity while empowering leaders with accurate and current visibility of their operations so they can monitor and improve their businesses,” Ngoc explained. 

Ngoc emigrated from Vietnam 16 years ago. She celebrates her heritage by participating in cultural activities and festivals throughout the year. She recognizes that this past year, the pandemic brought a negative impact to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, recalling how a stranger at the grocery store told her, “Go back to where you are from.”

“I have learnt that we need to speak up, seek help and support those in need,” Ngoc said. “Through hard times, I was reminded of the importance of family, friends and community support.

“I am proud of my heritage and I am glad that the AAPI community is becoming more vocal about the struggles that we are facing,” she added. “We need to treat people the way we would like to be treated. It starts with being open-minded and having curiosity and respect for others’ unique experiences and cultures.”

Roy Yang

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Engineering Lead, Boeing Zhoushan Center

Roy Yang manages the Engineering team in Zhoushan, China, Boeing’s first finishing and delivery center based outside the U.S. He emigrated from China to the U.S. in 1998, when he was 16, flying aboard a Boeing 747.

“If I was to take an ocean liner, it would have taken me weeks, months. But because of jet airplanes, I took a nap and woke up on another side of the world,” Roy said. “It always fascinated me how much Boeing has done to advance aerospace for the entire world, so I want to contribute to a great company like this.”

Roy joined Boeing 17 years ago as a wire designer for the 787. After several years in the role, he became the production engineering manager for the electrical system resource center, also known as the Boeing Wire Shop. In 2018, he applied for and was selected for the engineering director role in Zhousan, where he began strategizing and standing up engineering operations, including hiring the entire team.

The role took him back to China, 20 years after he had left the country.

“I had a reverse culture shock going back to China,” Roy said. “I did not expect China would be so different 20 years after leaving. I had to change myself to fit back into the culture again.”

Roy found he had to make adaptations to his “American and corporate” leadership style and reminded himself of the mindset he first struggled with in America — to not speak up to avoid making mistakes. As a result, Roy is introducing an ask-for-help culture, even pioneering an English program where Roy and other employees volunteered to teach English to locally hired employees weekly.

“I try to follow the Asian way, to be humble and approachable,” Roy said. “I walk the shop floor every day to learn about issues and let employees know I am one of them.”

Tien Mullen

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Product Lifecycle Management Manager, Airplane Level Engineering Integration

On Tien Mullen’s birthday in 1993, her family left Vietnam to come to America via the Humanitarian Operation campaign. A Boeing 747 brought her family to Seattle safely.

“It has become a family story that we joke about each year,” Tien explained. “I didn’t come to America by boat; I came by airplane. And not just any airplane — it had to be the Queen of the Sky. It’s also a perfect fit for my birth last name, Vuong, which means ‘the King, the Queen.’”

When Tien found out the airplane she flew on to America was made by Boeing, it made her want to work for the company. Fifteen years later, her dream became a reality, when she joined Boeing as a business and planning analyst for the 747-8 Program. 

“The 747 has become really special to me,” Tien said. “When I was assigned to work on that airplane, I was over the moon. It means a lot. It’s something I will love forever.”

Since that time, Tien has held varying roles at Boeing and was even one of 20 employees selected to attend the Boeing centennial bell-ringing event at the New York Stock Exchange in 2016. She is committed to serving others, dedicating many hours a month to nurturing the next generation in STEM (especially women in engineering) by providing career and technical guidance to more than a dozen engineers, interns and STEM students.

Shazaer Yusef

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Simulation Specialist, Boeing Additive Manufacturing Intelligence Center

Shazaer Yusef works in a research and design group at the Additive Manufacturing Intelligence Center in El Segundo, California, where he focuses on developing simulation tools and data analytics to operationalize metal additive manufacturing, or 3D printing.

His and his colleagues’ work has increased the simulation’s predictive accuracy, leading to the elimination of a show-stopping issue for a production part.

When he reflects on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, he thinks about how grateful he is to have been born and raised in the U.S. and the struggle and determination of his parents, who immigrated with very little.

“It was not easy, but they were fearless and driven to provide a better life for myself and my sister,” Shazaer said. “This month, it’s important for me to remember to honor them by striving to do my best in all that I do.”

Being of Pakistani and Indian descent and wanting to get involved to support Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), Shazaer joined the Boeing Asian and Pacific Association (BAPA) and writes about issues the Asian American and Pacific Islander community faces for his local BAPA chapter. He also started tutoring students through Step Up Tutoring, an organization that works with children in the Los Angeles area who are learning remotely. Through these actions, Shazaer is making a difference and leading change.

“AAPIs are not known for speaking up — I think that has to do with our upbringings and customs,” Shazaer said. “Unfortunately, staying silent doesn’t lead to change. As AAPIs, we need to speak our minds and ensure we’re heard. We need to share what we’re passionate about and lead from the front, rather than being led.”

Min Choi

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Contract Representative, International Government Services

Min Choi is the lead contract representative for direct commercial sales for the Far East, including her family’s native Korea.

“I work in a team where we interface with international customers from all around the world,” Min said. “Learning about the specific customer’s heritage and culture allows us to build a better customer relationship so we can understand issues from their perspective.”

From Min’s perspective, we must embrace diversity and be more vocal if we want to see change.

“I have learned silence does not fix the fundamental issues on race, prejudice and discrimination,” Min said. “If we want to see change, we must be change agents and reach out to one another for support. When looking at the larger picture to influence, you can make change by starting with your neighbors, co-workers and people around you.”

Min celebrates her heritage by recognizing Korean holidays and being involved in Asian American and Pacific Islander events in her community. She says listening is the best way to build a more inclusive culture.

“Listen to people who do not necessarily look like you or think like you,” Min said. “Put yourself in that person’s shoes and look at the issues and concerns from his/her perspective.”

Paul Segura

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Product Lifecycle Management Capability Leader, Boeing Defense, Space & Security

Paul Segura has worked for Boeing for 33 years. His father, Ed Segura, retired in 1990 after working 33 years at Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. During two of those years, Ed and Paul, who celebrate their Filipino heritage, worked together on the F/A-18 Hornet design engineering team, on the same floor in Building 270 in St. Louis, just two rows apart.

On the day Ed retired, Paul was walking with his father out of the building. Paul recalls that Ed said, “This is not the same company that I joined all those years ago.” Ed talked about how when he started, everyone in design engineering was on drawing boards. There were no cubicles and all the drawings boards were lined up in rows on one large open floor in the building in a setup they called the “the bullpen.” There was one phone for the whole department.

Paul said, “I remember that as a kid, I would sometimes call him at work and someone would answer the phone saying ‘Hydraulics’ (his department), and then I would ask to speak to him by name. I could hear the person call out my dad’s name across the room; a few moments later he would say hello. My dad did not smoke, but smoking was allowed at everyone’s desk and drawing board. When he retired, there were still drawing boards, but CAD (computer-aided design) was used for most new design work. The bullpen was gone and the floor was divided into cubicles. Everyone had their phone, and smoking was not allowed in the building.”

As Paul reflects back now on his own 33-year career with the company, he says he can say the same thing as his dad when he retired: “It’s not the same company I joined.”

“When I started, I was on the drawing board, too, although I used CAD a lot. Today there are no drawing boards; we have model-based definition and we’re on a journey to model-based engineering, which is part of the Digital Enterprise. We all had our own phones on our drawing boards back then, but if we were not there, the secretary for our group would answer and take messages. Today, we have voicemail, email and IM. The only computer we had was one terminal for the mainframe for the group. Today, we all have laptops,” Paul said. “The culture of the company has changed and is much more people oriented, and we have more diversity than we did in the 1980s. My dad would sometimes talk about how some of his supervisors were tough and aloof; today, most managers have great people skills. But what hasn’t changed is that we both worked with great people working on amazing fighter aircraft and we both were thankful to have jobs that supported our country’s defense.”

Yeong Tae “YT” Pak and Jason Pak

Yeong Tae “YT” Pak and Jason Pak image

Southeast Asia Regional Director, Boeing Defense, Space & Security Sales & Marketing;
Director, Boeing Global Engagement

Retired Col. Yeong Tae “YT” Pak and retired Capt. Jason Pak are like most other co-workers at Boeing — they arrive to and leave from work separately, have days filled with meetings, and may run into each other unplanned in the cafeteria or the elevator. The difference is, they are father and son.

“We’re more likely to see each other on the weekends than during work,” Jason explained. “We have offices on opposite sides of the building, and my dad travels quite a bit with his role.”

YT began his career at Boeing about eight years ago after a 30-year career in the U.S Army, most recently as the chief of staff for the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii. He also spent time as a senior U.S. defense official in Malaysia and operations chief at the Pentagon, among many other notable career assignments. His numerous international military assignments have enabled him to acquire a diverse international perspective, speaking multiple languages, including Korean and Japanese. “My background translated well with a world-class company like Boeing because of my diverse background and international experience,” YT said.

The move to Boeing in the Washington, D.C., area also worked well on a personal level. Jason had recently suffered critical injuries from an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan and was being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

“When you go through adversity, you become stronger,” YT said. “Less than 1 percent of the American population serves, so you have to think about that and be thankful. We are very fortunate of the opportunities that our respective military careers have provided our family and understand that we are one military family among many.”

After a year and a half of treatments and therapies, Jason went to work for Sen. Jack Reed as an assistant legislative fellow, aiding in understanding defense policies and requirements. Two years after his father, Jason also found a natural transition to Boeing, working as part of Government Operations before joining the Boeing Global Engagement (BGE) team.

“Leading the military veteran outreach and engagement effort for Boeing is a distinct honor and privilege,” Jason said. “BGE goes well beyond a typical philanthropic function. The impact of our work is felt across the enterprise, from those tied to the business like my father to diversity and inclusion — we want to ensure that internally and externally Boeing is present and partnered with the right organizations in the communities where our employees live and work.”

YT emigrated from Korea when he was 10 years old. He recalls his parents sacrificing all they had in Korea just to give his family a better life.

“We were the only Asians in Highland Falls, New York,” YT said. “It was a big change, but knowing my parents’ sacrifice, we all worked hard and valued diligence and never gave up. We faced some discrimination, but so many people were supportive and helped us. In the end, empathy, humility and mutual respect prevailed.”

When YT attended West Point, he was one of four Korean Americans at the school. When Jason attended, he was one of approximately 50.

“We are a minority, but I don’t dwell on it,” YT said. “You are going to look different, but if you do as well as others or better, it is harder for people to discriminate. Each diverse community has something to contribute, and that’s what America is all about! We are so proud and grateful to be American!”