Friday, June 19, 2009

The wind beneath our wings


WSU prof Jean Johnson with Boeing's Jeff Robinson.

Our West Side students have a special appreciation of how crucial Boeing is to the economy. Crucial to Boeing is the success of the much-delayed 787 Dreamliner, especially given the slow sales at this week's Paris air show.
The good news is that the Dreamliner is about to take its maiden voyage, and that Boeing may be planning a new assembly line.
A WSU professor was aboard a mockup of the 787 Dreamliner recently, interviewing a Boeing executive for the university's EMBA program. Here's the story:

Top-flight course: The sky-blue ceiling creates a feeling of openness. The overhead bins glisten like clouds. The windows dim so travelers can dial down the outside world.
Stepping into a Boeing 787 Dreamliner is designed to be a magical experience. Behind that magic are focus groups, psychologists, and the expertise of top industry professionals, such as Jeff Robinson, brand marketing director for Boeing Commercial Airlines and Washington State University alumnus (BSEE, 1983).
More... At the request of a WSU marketing professor, Robinson is sharing that expertise with the University’s new 18-month Executive MBA program. Students meet twice a month in Spokane and attend online courses designed by the Center for Distance and Professional Education, working with the College of Business. (For students wanting a fully online program, WSU also offers an Online MBA.)
“Students always relate more to real world examples,” said Jean L. Johnson, Gardner O. Hart distinguished professor. “If I can bring a big, powerful, high-visibility company like Boeing into the classroom, it helps the whole program.”
She and Robinson recently got together in a 787 mockup at Boeing’s Customer Experience Center in Renton, Washington. Brian Maki, CDPE media production manager, videotaped the discussion for Johnson’s online marketing strategy course. Also present was Boeing brand differentiation strategist Blake Emery, who joined in a wide-ranging conversation on such topics as incorporating brand identity in a product, being a market driver vs. being market driven, and creating brand equity.
Robinson has deep connections with WSU. He’s the vice chair of the marketing department advisory board, and sits on both the executive council and full national board of advisors for the College of Business. He mentors two WSU students. He has guest-lectured at marketing courses, spoken at marketing club meetings, and judged the business plan competition.
His wife also has a BSEE from WSU, his oldest daughter graduated from WSU after majoring in marketing, and his son is studying marketing at WSU. His youngest daughter, a high school freshman, is planning on becoming a Coug.
When Johnson asked for his help, “I was delighted to say yes,” he said. “It was a great way to share with WSU students a little glimpse into how Boeing is designing our brand into everything we do.”

Video: Watch the interview with marketing experts.

Story by Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education
Photo by Brian Maki/Center for Distance and Professional Education

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