Meet the Leader: Boeing CIO and SVP Ted Colbert
Georgia Institute of Technology (BS), Morehouse College (BS)
Ford Motor Company, Citi
His Leadership Philosophy
Everything that we do starts with the culture of the company, the organization we’re trying to transform. You know, a colleague of mine in the industry and others have said many times, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast every single day,” and I think that’s true … And so I think building a diverse team is so important, because when you have a team of diverse leaders that are focused on solving problems, then you have a broader spectrum of empathy at your arm.
One Surprising Fact About Him
I played the clarinet in high school.
Best Piece of Advice He’s Ever Received
Focus on getting stuff done today really, really well, and the future will sort of paint itself.
His Most Important Mentor
I just saw my parents as a collective. My dad was just a great human being and taught me a ton about people. And my mom is probably the most unselfish person I ever met in my life. Her sense of sharing and giving and selflessness, coupled with my dad’s focus on people and business and the like, helped mold me as a kid in big ways.
How Tech Will Transform the World
AI and a bunch of things emerging now will get us into this world that we can’t even fathom … I always joke about the Jetsons or Star Wars, right? We’ll be in a world where there’s going to be tons and tons of automation—tons and tons of assistance in everything that we do.
Favorite Tech Gadget
My Peloton. I just love riding Peloton. It is addictive … You end up after 45 minutes not realizing you just burned 600 or 700 calories, but you’ve been listening to great music and having fun and just getting into it.
His Proudest Moment
My son just started his freshman year in college, and I think my proudest moment is him starting school and the excitement in his eyes about his future and the opportunities ahead of him.
On What Makes a Great Leader
Being a great listener … The only way you can lead, and be just a great servant-leader, is to know how to listen and have empathy for people.
If He Did Only One Thing For the Next Week…
I would spend time going site to site to our factories in the company and learning more about where we have opportunities to drive our digital transformation.
Best Book He’s Read Recently
The Power of Habit [by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg] … By studying the psychology of people’s habits, you understand how to help them see the opportunities of new technology, how to incentivize the evolution to new technologies, and how to change triggers and behaviors and outcomes relative to those changes that you want to make.
(Watch: Ted Colbert on his favorite book)