Stephanie Pope admits that Texas isn’t what she expected. “I thought I would see more horses and more land—a lot more pick-up trucks,” she laughs.
Meet Stephanie Pope, CFO at Boeing Global Services
Since moving to Plano just four weeks prior to our interview, she’s fallen in love with Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q, “the one that’s part of a gas station,” she says; she’s discovered eight11 place, a cozy wine bar in downtown Frisco with live acoustic music; and she’s visited Magnolia Market in Waco.
With a team of just over 50, she’s also moved into the new Boeing Global Services headquarters at Legacy West. As vice president and CFO, she is part of the leadership team heading up this new business unit with which Boeing aims to increase their services revenue from $14 billion to $50 billion.
“We’re bringing together our commercial and government service capabilities into one business focused on being the number one aerospace service company in the world,” Stephanie explains.
In Texas, Boeing currently has 3,700 employees, as well as over 600 suppliers; that’s equivalent to $1.7 billion of economic value and a total of 49,000 people. As Boeing surges toward its $50 billion goal that number is set to skyrocket. “We’re really focused on growing and will continue to leverage the talent and resources of the area,” Stephanie Pope says.
As a little girl, she wanted to be a teacher—after growing out of wanting to be a princess. Today, she likens herself to a tiger. “It can appear to be very calm, but it’s powerful in its own way,” she explains.
An accounting major from Southwest Missouri State University, Stephanie Pope went to work for Boeing right out of college. A natural leader, she took a management position a few years later, serving in a number of leadership roles with increasingly more responsibility since 2007. In 2012, she was named vice president of Finance and controller for Boeing Defense, Space & Security before becoming vice president and CFO of Boeing Global Services in 2016.
As keynote speaker at Plano Profile’s 16th annual Women in Business conference on September 29, 2017 at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel, Stephanie has some advice for all leaders—male and female.
STEPHANIE POPE ON LEADERSHIP
YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR TEAM
“I think very early on in your leadership journey you recognize you’re only as good as the team, and that forces you to transition from being an individual contributor to being a leader.
“We don’t succeed as individuals; we succeed as teams, and the more collaborative your team can be, the more diversity you have within your team, the more innovation you’re going to get. If you can create that environment of openness and inclusiveness you can inspire people to participate.
“Colin Powell once said, ‘You can’t lead if nobody’s following.’ So if nobody is coming to ask you for advice or bounce things off you, you’re no longer being an effective leader. That’s an important reminder.”
THE RIGHT WOMAN (OR MAN) FOR THE JOB
“As a leader you’re constantly developing talent and matching talent with the needs of the business. In a very dynamic business environment you’re always assessing if you have the right people doing the right jobs in the right areas. It’s just an ongoing evolution as you grow and change and develop a team.”
“I have been very intentional as a leader. I come in every day and focus on being the type of leader that I’ve worked with in the past that I aspire to be: humble, thoughtful, very intentional in my actions and really focused on developing people. People took risks on me and gave me opportunities, so I try to be very intentional about building my team and taking risks on our future leaders.
“I once heard a phrase that stuck with me for years: ‘Image, intent, legacy.’ What’s the image you portray as a leader? What’s the intent of your actions? What’s your legacy, what do people say when you’re not around?”
“There have been times when I’ve had a personal family crisis. and I’ve needed to be there more than at work. I need to have an environment that can support that. And there are times, more frequently than not, that I need to be at work a little bit more, and so I’ve had to create a personal life that can support that. If we can strive to look at how we can integrate work-life so that they can both successfully support one another, we can be more content. You have to be very clear about your priorities and stay true to those. If you start to compromise, you’ll be very disappointed.”
CULTURE EATS STRATEGY
“Culture eats strategy: You can put together the perfect strategy, but if you have the wrong culture you’re never going to succeed. As leaders we spend so much time on execution and strategy, that we really have to work on being deliberate and intentional.”
FROM FAILURE COMES SUCCESS
“Very early in my career we had an issue—a big visible failure for the company—and I was leading the team. I remember going to speak to my boss, who was also my mentor, but before I could even get my first sentence out he said, ‘Stephanie, you need to stare into this and acknowledge it was a leadership failure.’ It changed my perspective on my career. We all fail, but out of failure comes success. You don’t innovate the right solution every time. You can’t be afraid of failure.
“Women hold themselves back. I think we need to be more proactive around our careers. We need to be more aggressive about taking chances and, maybe it’s counterintuitive, but be more aggressive and unafraid of failing. Look at failure as an opportunity to grow and develop. I really believe women tend to be, myself included, more hesitant around challenges or new opportunities, and it really comes down to fear of failure. We have to stare into that and be okay with the fact that we’re going to have failure along the way. That’s how we’ll grow and develop.
“I remember five or six years ago, one of our leaders, Greg Smith, chief financial officer and executive vice president of Enterprise Performance & Strategy at Boeing, took a huge risk on me. He asked me to come to Chicago and lead Investor Relations. I’d never done investor relations, and I had to pick up and move to a new city by myself. I remind myself that usually when I’m the most uncomfortable or the most fearful, those are the pivotal moments in life where I grew personally and professionally.”
Stephanie Pope follows her own advice. Throughout the interview she repeats two sentiments: “Be intentional,” and “From failure comes success.” It is clear that this is what she lives by. And when she’s struggling with fear of failure she remembers what she heard Senator Claire McCaskill say once, “You can’t be a leader and a victim at the same time.”