The BEYA STEM Selection Committee has announced that Theodore Colbert III, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services, The Boeing Company, will be presented with the Black Engineer of the Year Award at the 36th annual BEYA STEM Conference scheduled for February 17-19, 2022.
Colbert is a familiar face at the BEYA STEM Conference. He has served as a speaker on the BEYA seminar circuit and won the BEYA Cyber Visionary Trailblazer category award in 2010 and 2012, in recognition of his contributions to raising awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and ensuring that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.
Since 2009, Colbert has served in various roles at The Boeing Company. He has been executive vice president of The Boeing Company and president and CEO of Boeing Global Services since October 2019. Colbert became Boeing’s chief information officer (CIO) in 2013.
One of his highlights as CIO was launching the Analytic Lab for Aerospace Data at Carnegie Mellon University. In the fall of 2015 Carnegie joined with The Boeing Company to establish the Boeing/Carnegie Mellon Aerospace Data Analytics Lab, an academic research initiative that will leverage machine learning (ML), language technologies, and data analytics. The goal is to find ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to capitalize on the enormous amount of data generated in the design, construction, and operation of modern aircraft.
“We’re aiming to push the technology envelope,” Colbert said at the launch. “We have the best and the brightest faculty at a leading institution focused on how we can innovate and solve business challenges for today and into the future. “The amount of data created today is unprecedented. But it’s not about the data on its own, it’s what you do with it,” said Colbert at a recent Paris Air Show. “Through the products Boeing powers, we are applying scientific processes to data to solve our customers’ most pressing problems today while creating a world of limitless possibilities for the future.”
In a prior role, Colbert supported the growth of Boeing’s business through IT- and analytics-related revenue-generating programs. He has also led an IT organization where he was responsible for developing the network, computing, server, storage, collaboration, and infrastructure solutions across the enterprise. Before that, he led the IT Business Systems organization where he managed the computing application systems that support Boeing Finance, Human Resources, Corporate and Commercial Capital Business units, as well as the company’s internal systems.
Before joining Boeing, Colbert worked for Citigroup and spent 11 years with Ford Motor Company’s Information Technology organization. During his tenure with Ford, he championed and led campus recruiting, career development, and community service projects.
In 2017, Colbert was one of the many Morehouse men celebrated during a milestone celebration for the historically Black college and university (HBCU). Colbert won a “Bennie Leadership” award for Excellence in Business. The Morehouse College Bennie leader is one who goes in advance of others to direct or guide them. The recipient of this award has been at the forefront of the tremendous achievements and accomplishments of an organization.
Colbert earned a bachelor’s degree in science at Morehouse College. At the same time, he also pursued his degree in industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. After completing the dual degree program in 1996, Colbert had to decide whether to stay with industrial engineering or venture into IT. Colbert has been hooked on technology since he got his first Commodore 64 in 1982.
“To me, it was like a game, but what I was doing was really programming. The challenge connected me to the computer at a young age,” Colbert said. His interests led him to pursue simulation, using technology to solve challenges. He joined the Ford Motor Company in 1998 after graduation and was placed on the fast-track Ford College Graduate Program.
Mentoring, both formal and informal, is critical to Colbert’s philosophy about people and their ability to succeed. “We have to influence each other to be better by providing constant encouragement, feedback, and help,” he said.
“I try to touch as many employees as I can each day. We tend to put people in a box and we need to break out of that. There is a poem by Marianne Williamson that I give to all mentees called “Our Deepest Fear” and the essence is that we must shine our light to help others. We need to raise the game for each other.”
Colbert has served as a member of the board of directors for The Thurgood Marshall College Fund; the Georgia Tech Advisory Board; ADM, a global leader in human and animal nutrition, and the world’s premier agricultural origination and processing company; and New Leaders.
“My mother was a social worker and my father worked in labor relations for organizations such as the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” Colbert said. “The emphasis in my home was on valuing people and diversity.”