Boeing CTO to Graduates: Be Humble, Change the World

Boeing Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President Greg Hyslop.

Boeing Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President Greg Hyslop spoke to graduates of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering and Applied Sciences last week, with a message of the power of humility.

“Maintain a sense of wonder and discovery,” he said. “Welcome surprise, and maintain humility… It is difficult for the arrogant to be surprised, but it is not hard for the confident to still be amazed.”

Responsible for more than 50,000 engineers worldwide, Hyslop oversees Boeing’s engineering team, the company’s central research and development organization and its test and evaluation division. What Boeing looks for in its employees is that sense of wonder.

“We know how things that fly work and how they fail,” he said, “but when we see something up in the air, we’re still amazed.”

Part of being humble and open to amazement is recognizing that solutions can come from anywhere—and anyone.

“Every problem in your career is multidisciplinary,” Hyslop said. Discovery and creation aren’t solitary activities. “Learn from your teams and seek out diverse views, because that is how new ideas will be uncovered.”

It’s all about the bigger picture. Learn about it, and change it. “As engineers, you are one of the creatives, making people’s lives better,” Hyslop said.

That drive to change the world is at the core of Boeing’s ability to do so. “Inspire others,” he said. “Change the world.”

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