Q&A: Boeing works 'hand in glove' with local commands

WAYNE HEILMAN Updated: December 14, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 14, 2012

After spending 34 years as the customer for defense contractors like Boeing, Anthony “Tony” Przybyslawski is now on the other side of the table as Boeing’s executive director of marketing for Air Force network, space and strategic systems, based in Colorado Springs.

Przybyslawski spent 1½ years as a senior consultant for military contractor Aerojet, advising the company’s CEO and senior management about business development and long-range strategies after retiring as a major general in 2011. His last military assignment was special assistant to the commander of the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base and he also served as vice commander of the Air Education and Training Command and director of the training command’s intelligence and air, space and information operations.

A former wing commander of two bases, Przybyslawski is a pilot with more than 3,700 flying hours in the B-52, B-1, B-2 and various training aircraft. He graduated in 1976 from the Air Force Academy and received master’s degrees from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the University of Southern California.

Boeing employs more than 2,200 in Colorado, mostly in Colorado Springs and Denver.

Question: What are the primary programs Boeing now provides to the Air Force and Army in the locations where you are managing the customer relationships?

Answer: We work “hand in glove” with the major commands here in Colorado Springs. Our focus is on establishing a trusted relationship with our customers so that we always understand their needs and requirements. Our focus is not necessarily on specific programs and program management but on building the partnerships needed to solve our customers’ problems.  

My team is not limited to the Colorado Springs area alone; we are also responsible for the field marketing offices in San Antonio, Texas, for the Air Force Cyber Command; Shreveport, La., for the Air Force Global Strike Command; Albuquerque, N.M., for the Air Force Research Laboratory; and Omaha, Neb., for the U.S. Strategic Command.

Q: With or without sequestration, federal budgets are likely to be tight. What is your message to the customers you will be working with on how best to cope with tight budgets?

A: Clearly, tight budgets are something that we and our customers need to deal with, and this situation is unlikely to change anytime soon. It’s difficult, but we’ve done a lot of work as a company to cut costs, consolidate facilities and take other actions in order to prepare ourselves. I know our customers have been taking similar actions so they can be prepared as well. So in that respect, we’re in the same boat, and I think we can help guide each other if we continue to communicate often.

Times like these require a tremendously strong partnership between industry and defense. Our customers need to share their priorities and requirements so that we can focus our research and development efforts on their needs. Cost and value are extremely important in this environment, and we need to execute on schedule and meet or hopefully exceed our customers’ expectations. Program delays cost money that just isn’t there.

Q: As the war in Afghanistan winds down, what missions will be the highest priority for Boeing’s Army and Air Force customers and how will Boeing’s marketing efforts address those priorities?  

A: While I can’t speak for the Army or Air Force, I can share what Boeing views as “enduring needs” of the warfighter, like command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) solutions that will help a warfighter to better understand their environment and have the information they need in order to execute their mission successfully and safely. Greater situational awareness and the ability to take significant amounts of raw data and turning that data into actionable information — those needs aren’t going away anytime soon. So we will continue to market Boeing’s innovative C4ISR solutions, our platforms, our satellite systems and our lifecycle services.  Additionally, we continue to see growing demand for cybersecurity, unmanned systems, logistics management and other areas where Boeing has developed innovative capabilities.

Q: What can local economic development officials do to foster expansion of the area’s aerospace industry?

A: I think there are a number of things that can be done to improve the area’s competitiveness in terms of economic development.

First, it’s important to have a balanced and stable tax policy. Many of our products at Boeing have lifespans measured not in days or months, but in years and even decades. A stable tax policy is really important so we can plan for the long term.

It is equally important for the state to have a robust economic development incentive policy so that it can compete not only in the aerospace industry, but in other sectors as well.

Also, the state needs to streamline the regulatory processes and eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens.  Municipalities should be encouraged to review and eliminate regulatory burdens at the local level.

Q: Your Air Force career took you from one coast to the other and back. Why did you decide to retire in Colorado Springs?

A: After 34 years of service and 17 moves, it was time for my family to decide where we settle.  My wife, Priscilla, who endured that lifestyle, got the majority vote. Luckily, we truly love everything about Colorado. It also helped to have her family already living here.

Q: Can you talk about how you see Boeing’s role in the community?

A: I think one way you measure an organization is whether it is an active member in the community. I’m proud of what I see at Boeing in that respect. From community service projects to our involvement at the Air Force Academy, I feel like we’re saying that we don’t just work here — we live here too, and we want to be a part of this community and help it grow. Last year, Boeing distributed over $1.5 million across the state in various charitable, business and employee contributions.

As a graduate, the academy is near and dear to me. In my new role, I also serve as Boeing’s executive focal for the academy and it really is an honor. In October, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Center for Character and Leadership Development, which will help facilitate developing leaders of character, which is the academy’s first strategic goal. Boeing is supporting this important facility, and it’s that kind of partnership that I feel demonstrates a real commitment to the academy.

Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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