Claflin 'rock stars' needed at Boeing, official says

Feb 25, 2017

PANTHER convocation boeing speaker
Boeing South Carolina's Joan Robinson-Berry speaks at Claflin. (Photo special to The Panther)

A top Boeing executive said Claflin University produces "rock stars" every day.

Joan Robinson-Berry, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, was the keynote speaker for Claflin's 2017 Spring Convocation in January.

“I’m looking around at these amazing students … There are so many brilliant, talented young men and women here," Robinson-Berry said. “It’s no wonder why this university has been consistently ranked as one of America’s best colleges for the past 16 years by the U.S. News and World Report.”

She urged Claflin students to continue striving toward their goals of becoming “visionary leaders.” After college they could find themselves as candidates for positions at Boeing.

“I’ve read about you before I was here, because at Boeing, we look to try to find the best talent in the world, and we open this magazine up and you’re always there.”

Boeing, a builder of civilian and military aircraft, has established a major manufacturing presence in the Charleston area. But the company is more than aircraft.

Robinson-Berry said Boeing is going head-to-head with SpaceX to see who will reach Mars first, as well as coming up with a creative plan to drive down-to-earth priorities such as cost savings and innovation.

“I’m convinced, ladies and gentlemen, that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive on a Boeing rocket,” Robinson-Berry said.

“We need visionary leaders like yourselves to help us. We have to be smarter, faster, better and stay 10, 20, 30, 40 steps ahead of our competition," Robinson-Berry said.

Boeing needs engineers, plus information technology and technical professionals, firefighters, police officers, “and every discipline that you can think about, even chaplains,” she said. “And so there’s plenty of opportunity for all of you.”

At the beginning of her career, Robinson-Berry served as vice president of the Shared Services Group supplier management organization, where she led the strategy, contracting, daily management and development of the supply chain, providing more than $8 billion of non-production goods and services for The Boeing Co.

She was the previous director of Phantom Works Supplier Management for the Boeing Defense, Space & Security Division and had responsibility for implementing supplier management strategy and execution in support of the development of advanced concepts and technologies.

In 2016, Robinson-Berry was recognized as the one of Women’s Enterprise USA’s Top 100 Leaders in Supplier Diversity. She received the Women of Color Professional Achievement Award in 2015.

She received the Career Communications Group 2007 Black Engineer of the Year Achievement Award and was inducted into its Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012. Robinson-Berry was recognized in 2011 and 2012 by Uptown Professional Magazine as one of the Top 100 executives in America.

Robinson-Berry is a graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She earned her master’s degree in engineering management and business administration and a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology. Robinson-Berry is an Associate Technical Fellow and an African Scientific Institute Fellow.

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