STEM Professional of the week

Gustavo Urzua      
The Boeing Company

With more than 30 years of aerospace experience, Gustavo Urzua has mastered the art of managing priorities, placing the appropriate balance on people and financials, all while successfully leading the largest program in The Boeing Company’s Defense, Space & Security’s Global Services and Support business unit.

Gustavo’s rise to the top came from an unrelenting drive to succeed. An embodiment of humility and perseverance, Gustavo came to the United States at the age of two by way of Santiago, Chile. His parents migrated from the South American country in hopes of providing Gustavo with all the opportunities necessary to live a prosperous life. His parents worked several jobs to make ends meet and by the time Gustavo graduated high school, they were faced with the reality that they would not be able to financially support his college education. Not one to give up, Gustavo enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an aviation structural mechanic and enrolled in a technical school in Tennessee where he graduated first in his class of 52 students. Recognizing his talents, the Navy gave Gustavo his choice of assignments. Gustavo chose San Diego, CA and spent six years serving in several squadrons on various aircraft carriers.

After his career with the Navy, Gustavo went back to school and received an FAA Airframes and Power Plant Mechanics license. Unfortunately, the airlines weren’t hiring at that time, but Gustavo persisted and soon landed a job with Rockwell International as a maintenance analyst on the B-1B bomber program. Two years later, Gustavo was hired by The Boeing Company and although his career was on the rise, holding numerous leadership positions focused on Logisics, including Support Equipment, Project Management, Proposals, Depot Activation, and Support Integration, he felt a strong desire to earn that all too elusive college degree. By 1995, and now in his late 30’s, Gustavo realized his dream, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Southern Illinois University.

Today, Gustavo is serving as Vice President and Program Manager for the C-17 Globemaster III Integrated Sustainment Program (GISP) within GS&S for Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security, where he is responsible for assuring that C-17 GISP continues providing the U.S. Air Force and C-17 international customers with value-added services and innovative solutions. His role focuses on aircraft readiness and after-delivery support through performance-based logistics contracts, innovative supply-chain management, industry-leading engineering and public/private partnerships. Gustavo is fully accountable for Boeing’s vital program for the defense business, valued at more than $1.9 billion annually, and he leads more than 1,600 Boeing employees globally. He has oversight for more than 500 suppliers in 40 states that support the program and generate more than $200 million in revenues.

Outside of work obligations, Gustavo shows great commitment to STEM education. He serves as a member of the board of directors at the Museum of Aviation Foundation at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Georgia. He and his fellow board members recognize that children can become alienated or energized and thrilled by math and science early on, and so the museum has targeted different programs for pre-K through high school students and their teachers. Gustavo also provides resources for his Boeing employees world-wide in an effort to engage with schools and other organizations supporting STEM education.

Gustavo holds a bachelor’s degree in aviation management from Southern Illinois University and an executive master’s degree from Pepperdine University in California.

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