Jeff Trauberman is vice president for space, intelligence and missile defense systems at Boeing, where he leads government operations activities.
According to the company, those activities include core and adjacent business growth in the areas of satellite and space systems, intelligence, integrated missile defense and cyber information systems.
The 18-year company veteran recently caught up with ExecutiveBiz to discuss his background in business development, how he identifies growth markets for Boeing and the changing budget environment in the space sector.
ExecutiveBiz: Describe your current position and how you apply your previous experience in business development.
Jeff Trauberman: My current position is Vice President for Space, Intelligence and Missile Defense in our Government Operations office. It’s been valuable to have been in business development as well as various other parts of the company. During the course of my career, I’ve been in supplier management, program management and, as you mentioned, business development. My current position requires a lot of external customer contact. So working across the company in those other roles has been directly relevant to my work.
As one former Boeing executive once said to me, “We’re all in business development.” So all of us have critical roles when you’re working at a company like Boeing in maintaining and growing our business.
Moving back and forth from a profit and loss part of the business into a different part of the business gives you terrific insight when you’re dealing with customers in the space, intelligence and missile defense world. I try to bring the capabilities that we have back to our customers in a meaningful and affordable way.
ExecutiveBiz: One of your responsibilities is to identify areas of adjacent business growth. How you define and search for those areas?
Trauberman: First we focus on our customers’ missions and mission needs. Then we look for adjacencies where we have new products and new capabilities to bring to our current customers or, conversely, extensions of current products we try to bring to new customers. We try to avoid bringing new products to new customers. We’ve looked at the landscape of businesses that have tried to do the latter and the pitfalls they’ve experienced. Of course we also look for adjacent market areas that are growing, preferably faster than the overall market trends.
Ultimately we want to convert adjacencies over time into core businesses. If we’re successful in doing so, they are no longer are adjacencies. They become part of your mainstream business. A number of examples that I’ve had the good fortune to work on have been things like tactical, airborne, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, satellite services, hosted payloads and unmanned systems. All of these were at one time adjacencies for us, and Boeing was successful in bringing them into our core business.
ExecutiveBiz: How is the company responding to the space sector’s evolving budget environment?
Trauberman: The good news for Boeing is we’re performing well in our core space business. We have sound programs across the space marketplace if you look at the military, the commercial, the civil, and the national security sectors. In the military market we have the Wideband Global Satellite System. We also have the Space-Based Surveillance System and our GPS IIF program as part of our core military space business.
In the civil market, we’ve built the GOES weather satellites for NASA and NOAA, and we’re building the next generation of TDRS (Tracking and Data Relay Satellites) for NASA. In the human spaceflight area we work on the International Space Station and we were the prime U.S. contractor in building it. Now we’re now looking to the future, by supporting NASA in developing the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket.
In the commercial space sector, we’ve increased our research and development because we think the markets are growing. We have some terrific customers that include Intelsat, Inmarsat, Satmex and Asia Broadcast Satellite. In the national security area we do work for the National Reconnaissance Office, which is probably all I can say on that topic.
Despite all that, we’re not resting on our laurels. The budget environment is evolving and challenging. So we’re looking hard at innovations and improved system and service architectures that we can bring to our customers. Examples of those would include things called hosted payloads, which are essentially piggyback payloads that ride on commercial satellites.
Satellites are not typically inexpensive items, so we’re looking at ways to build smaller and less expensive satellites. We’ve just brought out a brand new small satellite for some commercial customers in March. For NASA, we’re also looking at the commercial crew markets, as a way to bring passengers and astronauts up to the International Space Station. For our classified customers, we’re trying to bring the same streamlined processes, innovations, commercial practices and responsiveness to those customers as well.
We are generally looking at things that we can do to provide more affordable solutions, more resilient systems, and new ways of approaching programs of record.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you identify some areas within the C4ISR market as potential areas of growth?
Trauberman: Boeing is a global company, a global leader, and one of America’s top exporters. So it is well positioned to capitalize on C4ISR markets in general and more particularly on the global C4ISR portfolio. I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of this overall effort.
It just seems obvious to us that all of our customers need to obtain, analyze, process and then act quickly on increasing amounts of information and “big data” available to them. As you probably see in your personal life, the amount of information you get, the sources of information, are exploding exponentially. But everybody only has only 24 hours in the day and our customers are in that same situation. They need to make sense of it all.
So, the challenge for our customers, and for us in turn, is to be able to use limited time and available resources effectively to make sound rapid decisions; that’s underlying the whole growth in the C4ISR and cyber markets in our view. As to specific areas, we believe networking, communications and cybersecurity are promising growth areas, in addition to activity-based intelligence, secure information management and persistent battlespace awareness.
For example, in the area of persistent battlespace awareness, we just had the first test flight of our new Phantom Eye long endurance unmanned aircraft, which will be able to stay aloft for days at a time.
Overall, we’re continuing to focus on more affordable ways of providing better C4ISR capabilities. One other dimension of affordable C4ISR is that we’re pursuing greater levels of international collaboration. We look at our customers and they’re working more with global partners. Boeing has always worked with global partners in general, but in the C4ISR sector we’re seeing that trend accelerate.
For example, several of the recent Wideband Global Satellites were enabled by international partnerships with the U.S. Air Force. International partners provided funding to the Air Force to buy into the WGS constellation affordably and that, in turn, enabled the Air Force to procure additional satellites from us. In the military aircraft side of our business, we also focus on international C4ISR. Good examples are the P-8 surveillance aircraft for India and our airborne early warning control aircraft for Australia and Korea, all again made more affordable as derivatives of commercial aircraft.