“I learned that I needed to view problems with a wider aperture,” reflected Maurita Sutedja in her email from Boeing’s Shared Services Finance and Business unit.
Sutedja is recalling a teachable moment from early on in her career. She had made a proposal that her then-boss had rejected. But instead of belaboring the setback, Sutedja took away three tips from the experience:
– View problems with a wider aperture.
– Have a thick skin.
– Keep focused on the long term.
“We all make mistakes–especially early in our careers. What is important is cultivating the ability to learn from mistakes and setbacks. That ability is a quality that every successful professional needs.
“Find out what went wrong, and figure out how you can do better,” she advised.
Sutedja quickly adds that her advice isn’t generation-specific. A combination of a strong work ethic, dedication to doing well, and an intellectual curiosity, works for any age in the workforce from 16 through 70+.
“The millennial generation may bring a different perspective to their role, but the basics of doing a good job have not changed,” she said.
“My advice is pretty consistent. Demonstrate integrity, show respect for people, tell the truth, say thank you,” she said.
Boeing has approximately 8,000 people in “finance” jobs, Sutedja explained.
“But we have so many other professionals applying their education in finance, and business-related fields. Supplier and customer contracts and business planning are a couple examples that come to mind,” she said.
Boeing’s global size and diverse business portfolio provide lots of opportunities for professionals to migrate. For example, one of the company’s top finance executives started out as an engineer. But the involvement and development that happens in Sutedja’s own organization can often lead people to opportunities in other parts of Boeing.
“We have around 700 professionals who have a lot to offer, and by encouraging their development and involvement, they go on to provide the innovation we look for in service delivery and productivity,” she said.
Sutedja herself is responsible for seeing that Boeing’s Shared Services Finance and Business unit operates both effectively and affordably. As vice president and chief financial officer, she leads the group’s accounting, financial planning, and cost management functions. She is also responsible for providing financial services–including accounts payable and payroll–to all Boeing business units and providing travel services to Boeing, its subsidiaries, and joint ventures.
Prior to this assignment, Sutedja was vice president and chief financial officer of Boeing Capital Corp. She was responsible for a multi-billion-dollar aircraft portfolio, including evaluation of prospective financing transactions, treasury, financial planning, aircraft portfolio analysis, contracts, and all aspects of external and internal financial reporting.
What keeps her up at Night?
“The business environment for Boeing is so competitive, fast-paced, and dynamic; we are often reacting to external forces or events that can pop up unexpectedly,” she said.
“We work to have contingency plans in place and risk mitigation strategies to address our primary risk areas. And because we’re involved in such a high volume of transactions, I pay close attention to having effective processes for our critical services, making sure every Boeing employee gets their paycheck and our travelers get where they are going on time.”
Sutedja said nothing beats deep understanding of your areas of responsibility and a good command of what is going on.
“A mentor of mine once told me that as a leader, you’re not allowed to have any bad days,” she notes. “That is because everyone is watching the leader. Leaders are expected to set the example for the group to follow. Showing calm and steady confidence in the face of stressful situations helps everyone else to put their fears to the side and focus on solutions.”
With high finance being such a high stakes game, what tips does she have for bouncing back from professional failures?
“We all experience setbacks. We all make mistakes–especially early in our careers. What is most important is cultivating the ability to learn from mistakes and setbacks. That ability is a quality that every successful professional needs,” she said.
“Find out what went wrong, and figure out how you can do better. It has helped me to have a thick skin when I have a disappointment and keep my focus on the long term.”