Michael J. Cave

Senior Vice President
Business Development and Strategy
The Boeing Company
BSE '82

For his financial and managerial leadership in the commercial aircraft industry

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

2007- Senior Vice President, Business Development and Strategy
The Boeing Company
2006-07 Vice President, Business Strategy and Marketing
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Named one of the 100 Most Important Hispanics 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
Corporation award for Executive Excellence
2002 Outstanding IDE Alumni Award, Purdue University
2001-07 Seattle Symphony Orchestra
board member and treasurer
1983-2006 Various positions with McDonnell Douglas, starting with estimating, contracts and cost management and concluding as vice president and CFO for Douglas Aircraft.
Positions at Boeing Commercial Airplanes included vice president and CFO, vice president Customer Support and Services, and vice president Airplane Programs

BSE '82, Purdue University