By Karen Guzman
Businesses must take the lead in fostering global relationships if they want to survive and thrive during this period of geopolitical change, according to Marc Allen, president of Boeing International.
Allen, a 2002 graduate of Yale Law School, shared this view with students when he spoke at the Yale School of Management on January 29. “There is more dynamic change happening now than in the last 40 years, or arguably the last 70,” Allen said, pointing to a number of trends that are reshaping cultures and nations. “Companies and governments have to react to more, and have less time to react.”
Forces such as aging international institutions and a rise in populism are converging on the world stage at this time, making it imperative for international businesses to forge “company-to-country” relationships that can help them navigate the present political moment, Allen said. “There are tremendous opportunities to position ourselves by building solid relationships.”
Allen spoke at Yale SOM as part of the Gordon Grand Fellowship series, which brings prominent business leaders to Yale to deliver a public lecture, to meet informally with faculty and students, and to participate in classes.
In a talk titled “The Changing Global Business Environment,” Allen discussed the challenges that businesses are facing and how he approaches them.
As president of Boeing International since 2015, Allen is responsible for the company’s international strategy and corporate operations outside the U.S., overseeing 18 regional offices in key global markets.
Yale SOM Dean Edward A. Snyder introduced Allen. “He’s an expert on international business, on global regulation of business, international legal and policy matters,” Snyder said. “He knows everything anyone could know about world trade organizations and the kinds of disputes they have.”
Deputy Dean David Bach moderated the discussion, which included a question-and-answer portion with students.
There are two possible paths for the global future, Allen said: a fragmented world order and a “unified world” that would be more conducive to trade and business.
To help bring about a world of global unity, where businesses and nations alike can prosper, Allen said, business must make the case for globalism by showing the benefits to policymakers. “We demonstrate the math, and the math is pretty strong and does stand on its own,” he said.
Allen pointed to recent successes in trade talks between the E.U. and the U.S., and Boeing’s own collaboration with partners in China and Russia, where negotiations are typically more fraught. There is a divergence, he said, between political rhetoric and “real-world outcomes.”
For multinational companies, listening to customers and respecting host countries is also critical, Allen said.
In his own aviation industry, Allen said, there is a need to reduce the reliance on fuels linked to environmentally damaging emissions. “The industry has to drive emissions down,” he said. “We’re very focused on it. Three out of every four research dollars are going into it.”
Global business savvy and cultural awareness are increasingly critical skills for business leaders to cultivate, Allen said. He commended the Global Network for Advanced Management for exposing students to different cultures and business practices.
Allen, who was based in China for three years, said that it’s important to recognize the “[cultural] filters” we all wear. “So you can take off these filters,” he said, “and if you can’t take them off, at least realize you have them on.”
About the Event
Please join us for The Changing Global Business Environment: A Conversation with Marc Allen, President, Boeing International, on Tuesday, January 29.
As president of Boeing International since 2015, Allen YLS ’02 is responsible for the company’s international strategy and corporate operations outside the U.S., overseeing 18 regional offices in key global markets. His responsibilities include developing the company’s growth and productivity initiatives outside the U.S., forming new business and industrial partnerships, overseeing international affairs, enhancing Boeing’s local presence and providing global functional support. Read more.
The Gordon Grand Fellowship brings prominent business leaders to Yale University to deliver one public lecture, meet informally with faculty and students, and participate in classes.
This event is open to the public.