Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program Builds Stronger Partnership with Military Customers

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pratt & Whitney recently hosted eight military officers participating in the Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program during a two-day visit to East Hartford and Middletown, Conn. The visit included tours of the Turbine Module Center in East Hartford and the Middletown Engine Center, as well as discussions with President Dave Hess and other members of the P&W leadership team.

The Corporate Fellows Program is highly selective. It was established in 1994 with the goal of enhancing the relationship between the corporate sector and the military, by encouraging a culture of creativity and intelligent risk-taking to promote a more entrepreneurial approach to military leadership. Companies selected to participate host company days with the current cohort, enabling fellows to get deeper insight into industry best practices.

The 2012 class has a fellow, Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffry Gates, at Pratt & Whitney, and others assigned to diverse companies that include Google, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, EADS, DuPont, Merck, General Dynamics, NCR, ExxonMobil and Accenture.

"What we're seeking to achieve is a partnership that goes even beyond the standard supplier-customer relationship," explained Dave Hess, president, Pratt & Whitney, during the kickoff of two days of meetings with the corporate fellows.

"Since the government doesn't build products and we don't operate our products built for the government customer, we do well to find ways to deeply understand each others' requirements and build a strong partnership," he said. "In the end, it adds up to a more successful partnership in defense of our nation."

According to the program's charter, annually, two or more officers with highly successful operational command and staff backgrounds from each branch of the armed services are selected to receive their senior service college credit outside the traditional career path by training with Corporate America. They are exposed to businesses reshaping organizational structures and methods of operations to provide innovative and competitive advantages. The fellows are able to glean the best of change, innovation, and leading edge business practices that can serve to transform DoD.

During the tour of the Turbine Module Center, Hot Section Operations and Engineering leaders gave an overview of how Operations and Engineering work together to design and build the most advanced turbines in the industry. Manufacturing engineers, cell leaders and operators demonstrated some of the unique and innovative processes used in the production of P&W's advanced airfoils, according to Kip Wyman, general manager of the Turbine Module Center.

"The group really appreciated the opportunity to interact with our workforce, and I believe they went away impressed with the passion and knowledge of our employees," said Wyman. "We were certainly proud to showcase the high-tech manufacturing processes and inspection methods that we've developed, and which are critical for the pilots who depend on our engines."

"This was a great opportunity for members of the program to get a better understanding of what makes Pratt & Whitney an industry leader," said Gates, P&W's resident corporate fellow. "It also gave me a deeper appreciation for the work done throughout the industry to support the customer and our war fighters."

"I think Pratt & Whitney has really rolled out the red carpet for the SECDEF Fellows, and I really think we've raised the bar for the rest of those guys when they have their company day," Gates added.

Pratt & Whitney has a history of support for the Corporate Fellows Program. Col. Kevin Fesler, who is now the Commander of the 414th Fighter Group at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, was a Pratt & Whitney corporate fellow in 2011. Clyde Woltman, who now is employed by P&W Government Relations in Washington, D.C. as director of Navy and Marine Corps programs, was a colonel in 2001-02 as a Pratt & Whitney corporate fellow.