Ken Aso, Director of Spare Parts Category Management, Boeing
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path since you left Oliver Wyman?
I worked at OW for about 8 years, from 2005 - 2013. These were some of the most satisfying and challenging professional experiences of my career. Since leaving OW, I was Sr VP of Strategy & BD for StandardAero for 1 year, and subsequently transitioned to Boeing, where over the past 2 years I have worked as Director of spare parts category management, overseeing a ~$2B aftermarket business with a team of 70.
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you most look forward to?
Working at Boeing has been fun in that I've had the opportunity to establish a new capability and build a new team. Because of that there has been a great deal of variety. It feels like a start-up environment within a large, conventional industrial company. True to my past as a former strategy consultant, I greatly enjoy the planning / priority setting process. But seeing commercial results is really satisfying too.
How is what you’re doing now similar to what you did at Oliver Wyman? How is it different?
The rhythm of corporate life is different than consulting. You direct your own time and your priorities more. There is less time for thinking deeply on important topics, and therefore you have to be quite deliberate about carving out time on your calendar to do that. We also spend a lot of our days in meetings. A lot more than in the consulting! My Thursdays are consumed in meetings typically.
What skills did you acquire at Oliver Wyman that have helped you throughout your career?
The ability to structure, analyze, problem solve, articulate ideas, and then influence, were all skills that I greatly advanced at OW. I feel like I can walk into most environments and contribute to the conversation in one way or another, whether it's through content leadership or process leadership. I owe a lot of that to my experiences at OW.
What accomplishments make you the most proud?
Winning as a team is an electric experience. Seeing business results, and the transformation of a business into a more formiddable one is intensely satisfying. Equally satisfying is seeing your team working well, getting results, and having fun while doing it.
What was one of your most important experiences at Oliver Wyman?
My first two years as an Associate at OW were by far the toughest, because the learning curve was so steep during that time. But that core consulting toolkit was so critical. And subsequently as an engagement manager, principal, partner, and now industry person, I find that I have simply continued to expand on that same basic toolkit.
What do you miss most about being at Oliver Wyman?
Working alongside so many smart, driven people was awesome. But perhaps even more satisfying was that people at OW were by and large some of the most fun people to associate with. I count many fellow OW'ers as my closest friends today.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Chasing 2-year old twins around the house and hanging out with family. I love that I check out of my business mindset for the duration of almost all weekends.
What are you reading?
Drive, by Daniel Pink.
What advice do you have for former and/or current consultants and staff?
Be willing to invest the time to build your skills, and try to capitalize in the culture of straight, candid feedback. Whether you launch out of consulting after 2-3 years, or stay for longer, you won't regret that experience of exposing yourself to gaps in your knowledge or skillset, closing those gaps, then repeating the process again and again. Also, take time to build relationships with people in your office and across the firm. There are truly exceptional people at OW!