StratPost spoke to Christopher Raymond, Vice President of Business Development & Strategy at Boeing Defense, Space & Security on the inaugural day of Aero India 2015 and asked him what he thought of the new ‘Make in India’ initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Has ‘Make in India’ changed the way Boeing sees itself doing business in India?
Not necessarily, because I think we’ve always had an approach where skills development, supplier development, getting people into the Boeing supply chain — that’s sort of something that we did in any case.
I think the policy makes all the sense in the world for what the Prime Minister wants to do for the aerospace and defense sector.
And I think where we’ve spent a lot of time so far is that we’ve built relationships with over about 18 companies now. And some of whom, they start by skills development, they start by teaching each other, teaching them how to read Boeing manufacturing drawings, getting to understand our quality system, holding up their supply chain capability, helping them write proposals. We’ve spent millions of man hours and investing money already doing that, just to get the relationships we have with the 18 companies.
I think the Prime Minister referenced Dynamatic this morning in his speech and that’s one of the small and medium enterprise companies we identified two or three years ago. We got the thing really going in 2014 – that’s kind of what we like to do. And some of those companies we end up finding because they are just really capable companies and they can help do things affordably. They have nothing to do with the product sale, they’ve to do with just — it’s good business.
Then, other relationships — it started as a result of product sales. So you end up meeting companies because you have to partner with people on C-17s, P8 — we meet companies both ways.
How does ‘Make in India’ help Boeing do the things it’s already been doing?
I think we’ve been very focused on skills development. We already have a partnership with the National Skills Development Corporation — we’re already working with certain companies on pilot skill training programs. So to us, ‘Make in India’ made all the sense in the world. I think it’s just going to cause all of us to get even more focused on something we’ve already started to do.
Do you think Make in India could provide solutions to the challenges that the offset policies pose?
Yes I think they’re related. Actually, I could see them be a little bit related. It’s also caused them to take a step back and look at some of their policies — for offsets — and where might they make some changes where it would help the investment in Make in India go even faster.
And I think that the government’s been very receptive. They’ve been very open to taking inputs on the offset policies and what kind of changes might help make that kind of engagement in sector development go even faster.
Some of those offset policy changes have been things that have been talked about by the USIBC and the individual companies for a while. But I see a new momentum; I guess I’ll say, because of such a relationship and linkage with ‘Make in India’.
And IPR concerns as well?
I think those are always concerns, no matter where. That’s not something that’s unique to India. The concerns over intellectual property, the sharing it with partners, there are no new issues there that are unique to India.
In fact this morning I thought the Prime Minister spoke to that point very well when he talked about how ‘we have to be trusted on things like technology release and security requirements’ and I read into that: intellectual property.
I think the governance systems here, desire for transparency, the focus on anti-corruption, the focus on economic development — all the ingredients are here.
So I don’t see that being a special issue with India.
Is the ‘Make in India’ initiative creating tangible incentives?
I think if your viewpoint is: ‘I expect things to be better overnight’, then you are going to be disappointed.
But you have to start with a vision and I think the Prime Minister has a vision for the aerospace and defense sector.
And yes, he is going to have to align the other parts of the government to make those changes that will better enable that vision.
But if you are in this business and you want to have the relationship with India — and we’ve had it since 1945 — you see the vision, you see the intent, you see the direction they are trying to go. It will take time for certain things to change but if you’re in it for the long haul, then you better start working on it.
Chris Raymond joined Boeing in 1986 as an engineer. His organization is responsible for international defense-related sales activity and leads business capture efforts. He earlier held leadership assignments in Engineering, Supply Chain Management, Program Management and Operations before joining Business Development.
A graduate and now advisory board member of the Defense Acquisition University, he also serves on the boards of the Center for New American Security and the National Defense Industrial Association. He is also an associate fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a fellow in the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Raymond holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Illinois as well as a contract management certificate and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California-Irvine.