Michael J. Cave, B.S. Interdisciplinary Engineering '82

Senior Vice President, Business Development and Strategy, The Boeing Company

As a child growing up in Virginia, Michael J. Cave was a sports fanatic. He loved basketball; maybe the result of having a father from Indiana. He learned from charismatic coaches who took their squads to state championships and rallied their teams week after week. Now, as a vice president for The Boeing Company, Cave is using that insight to lead the aviation industry.

Cave came to Purdue from the East Coast to prepare for a career in a high tech or defense business. He spent his first two years in the Krannert School, but knew success would come through the marriage of business and engineering − or what he calls "the two languages of business" − he found this in the interdisciplinary engineering program.

"The program provided a very good blend of skills in understanding how things work, how they can be efficiently manufactured, why they will cost what they will, and how to market and distribute them profitably," Cave says.

Since leaving Purdue, Cave has spent the last two decades in the aviation industry; first with McDonnell Douglas, where his appointments included heading the team that merged commercial airplane units of The Boeing Company and McDonnell Douglas. In 2000, he was named vice president and chief financial officer for Boeing Commercial Airplanes and faced perhaps the greatest challenge of his career − the turnaround of Boeing Commercial Airplanes in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

Boeing was in trouble. The company had not launched a new airplane in a decade, was challenged by Airbus, and was said to be no longer competitive in the commercial airplane business. In 2001, the industry's customer base faced the worst downturn in its history. But Cave and his team at Boeing prevailed.

"In the past few years we have regained our leadership in innovation, profitability and sales, and we have secured the United States' leadership in this great industry for a long time to come," Cave says. "It may be one of the great industrial turn-arounds of all time."

Cave likens the development of commercial air travel to that of the Internet in terms of connecting the world and nurturing global economic growth.

"If we are to continue to provide that impact we need to be able to grow the world's air transportation system rapidly, safely and efficiently, while continuing to minimize our environmental footprint," he says.

Career Highlights
2008 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award, Purdue University
2007 Senior Vice President, Business Development and Strategy, The Boeing Company
2006−07 Vice President, Business Strategy and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
2006−07 Named one of the 100 Most Important Hispanic in Technology and Business, Hispanic Engineer and Information Technology Magazine
2005−07 Krannert Dean's Advisory Council, Purdue University
2004 Hispanic Engineer National Achievements Award
2004 Corporation Award for Executive Excellence
2002  Outstanding Interdisciplinary Engineering Alumni Award, Purdue University
2001−07 Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Board Member and Treasurer
2001−07 Various positions with McDonnell Douglas, starting with estimating, contracts and cost management and concluding as Vice President and CFO for Douglas Aircraft
1983−06 Various positions with Boeing Commercial Airplanes including Vice President and CFO, Vice President Customer Support and Services, and Vice President Airplane Programs
BS IDE 1982 Purdue University

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