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7 Questions with Ryan Chapin
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7 Questions with Ryan Chapin
Name: Ryan Chapin
Current title: Founder and President
Current organisation: Trusted Consulting
Ryan has been blessed to work alongside and lead some of the best aerospace experts in the world during his 26-year career at GE Aviation. While there, he was honored to serve in top 1% of company as Executive Engineering Manager in turbomachinery design, supply chain, additive, and digital analytics fields.
After designing commercial and military fan and compressor airfoils, Ryan found interest in LEAN Six Sigma, ultimately becoming a Master Black Belt with leadership responsibilities for 200+ Black Belts. He was later honored to serve as Executive Engineering leader of Design and Integration of the Joint Strike Fighter F136 engine program. After serving multiple management positions (with annual budgets up to $130M) in metallic and composite airfoil design, aeromechanics, and High-Pressure Compressor module designs, he transitioned into starting a new Digital Services and Solutions team. Through a focus on creating a data-driven culture coupled with data science with domain expertise, Ryan and his team were able to generate nearly $3B in new customer and business value. Most recently, Ryan served as Additive Advanced Technology Design Executive, dedicated to leading teams of world-class jet engine designers focused on introducing new additive modalities and components for commercial and military customers.
In May of 2021, Ryan left GE to started his own technology consulting firm, TRUSTED CONSULTING, focused on helping small and medium sized aerospace, automotive and industrial companies overcome key challenges. We do this by focusing on three key areas:
1. Design and Manufacturing
2. Digital Transformation and Analytics
3. Process Optimization.
Ryan is happily married, has two lovely children, and enjoys making music and serving his community.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Building a culture of excellence while striving to be the best servant-based leader. In many large, matrix-based organizations, leadership styles vary greatly. On one hand, you have leaders who see the value of serving their teams by bringing help where needed then getting out of the way. On the other hand, you have leaders that tend to be more the micro-managers who drive daily accountability in order to never miss a beat. In my opinion, a servant-based leadership style built on accountability and transparency is a worthy challenge to go after.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I've always practiced the philosophy of doing your best with the gifts and talents you have. While at GE Aviation, I was asked to join an Executive Leadership program initiated by then CEO, David Calhoun. The program was designed to evaluate and accelerate the readiness of high-potential, younger engineers for taking on responsibilities of Executive leadership within the company. Although the process didn't guarantee promotion into the top 1% of GE, I was fortunate to be linked with another senior leader to mentor and evaluate my progress. In the end, I became one of the youngest engineers promoted into Executive leadership at GE Aviation.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I always start each day with a fresh look at priorities for the day and upcoming commitments that need my attention. By ranking my priorities, I come up with an ordered list that I start working from the top.
In my new role as Founder and President of Trusted Consulting, I spend a solid portion of each day reaching out and meeting with potential clients who are in need of my industry expertise. I've found regional networking groups to be especially beneficial in building connections within companies I'd like to do business with.
Lastly, exercise and dedicated time to learning are also very important routines throughout each day.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Having left the comfort-zone of a 26-year career in corporate America, I've really begun to recognize the importance of paying it forward. Throughout my career, I've had a few key individuals that have taken the time to coach and mentor me. Because of the great value this brought to my career, I developed a strong interest in helping others achieve their goals and aspirations as well.
Outside of GE, I've benefited greatly from highly successful individuals taking the time to help a new entrepreneur like me accelerate their road to success. Instead of looking at me as a potential competitor, I've felt an overwhelming sense of kindness and a willingness to help someone other than themselves succeed.
Overall, I've learned there's plenty of work to go around and by paying it forward, everybody wins!
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The Bible. As a follower of Christ, I've found a tremendous wealth of examples of what servant based leadership really looks like. Two key examples that come to mind are Jesus washing his disciples' feet and doing unto your manager as you would do unto the Lord.
In today's challenging culture war, leaders can too often fall into the trap of thinking they are more important than those who work for them. In reality, by showing kindness and love to our work neighbors, more will feel accepted and valued for the unique skills, talents and diverse opinions they bring to the table.
Relative to those who we work for, I have always believed in the importance of doing your very best work with the utmost integrity. When we do our best work for our boss, the company and our customers, everyone wins!
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
As many of us leaders out there can attest, the best leaders lead by example and create an environment where everyone feels valued for their contributions.
I recall a time where I had the opportunity to build a world-class team of compressor module designers from around the world. In order to help this team of roughly 300 engineers from around the world function at their highest capacity, I focused on hiring leaders who excelled in three key areas: Integrity, Clarity and Curiosity.
In my book, integrity always forms the foundation upon which the house is built. Without integrity, leaders are tempted to do whatever it takes to get ahead, especially when no one is looking. On the flip side, a leader with high integrity will lead by example, readily admitting when they messed up. This, in turn, fosters a culture of transparency and a willingness to take honest risks.
The second key area is clarity. An old proverb once said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." By spending the time to ensure you have a widely communicated, "Sesame Street Simple Vision," teams become better aligned with what's most important. This eliminates uncertainty and waste that often hinders the capacity of the team.
Lastly, Curiosity is an essential trait for leaders to be their best. As a Lean Six Sigma Master Black belt, I learned the importance of Genba, or "going where the work is done." Leaders that are willing to get out of the office and get their hands dirty, are often more relatable and get to the heart of problems much faster than "ivory tower leaders."
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
As someone who worked hard, growing up in and out of poverty as a kid, I've always been a big fan of helping others become their best selves. Some of the most rewarding times at GE Aviation came as I was able to pay forward the investment others made in me. I've been very fortunate to have hired and promoted some of the world's very best jet engine designers. Just like Dave Calhoun took a chance on a young engineer like me, I've made a point to always look for a way to invest in the success of others.