Adriana Ocampo is the definition of ambition. She moved to the United States from Colombia to study engineering at the University of Missouri, and is now a Chief of Staff at The Boeing Company.
Adriana credits her success to the values instilled in her by her mother — Colombia's first female marine biologist. But here, you can read her advice for your success. As Vice Chair of the National Board of Directors at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Adriana has vast experience sharing career advice and building an empowering community. But be warned; reading about Adriana's amazing drive will have you wanting to reorganize your house, ask for a promotion, and run a marathon real soon.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Adriana Ocampo
Chief of Staff to VP Engineering, Modifications & Maintenance, Boeing Global Services
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
My father is also an engineer. Since an early age, I developed a fascination with how things work and dreamed to study here in the US. I joined McDonnell Douglas in 1997, right out of college, as an Industrial Engineer. In that role, I supported the manufacturing of several military aircraft, and was involved in the implementation of lean principles becoming Lean and Six Sigma certified.
I got promoted into management in 2003 as the leader of Production Operations Assessment. In 2006, I moved into Supplier Management as the Program Manager for an Army program, where I served as the lean and the affordability lead. In 2008, I was appointed as the manager of the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program. In 2015, I moved into Corporate Audit where I gained broad exposure to the enterprise, as well as proficiency in internal controls.
Earlier this year, I got name the Chief of Staff to the Vice President of BGS Engineering, Modifications & Maintenance. I am currently responsible for developing and implementing strategies to strengthen Boeing Global Services. I interface with high-level internal and external leaders, and act as the liaison with key community, government, and business stakeholders.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
There are several milestones in my career that I am very proud of. My most recent accomplishment was to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of my alma mater — the University of Missouri Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering (IMSE) Department. I am the seventh female and first Hispanic to receive this prestigious recognition. My goal is to pay it forward and serve as an inspiration to young girls interested in getting into STEM fields of studies.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
I've learned the importance of "the three Cs" - competency, courage and confidence. I bring 23 years of diverse functional background, having experience in engineering, operations, supplier management and corporate audit. That gives me the competency. I had the courage to leave my home country and family to pursue my dream of studying engineering in the US. I've accepted challenging opportunities at work and moved 7 times with the company. I am courageous! My challenge is with "confidence". I'm my worst enemy. I'm usually really hard on myself and put a lot of pressure on me seeking perfection. I'm still learning to embrace the journey!
Why do you love where you work?
One of the great benefits of working for The Boeing Company is that I’ve been able to have many different careers without having to leave the company.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have strong female mentors and sponsors who challenge me every day to be great. Nonetheless, my Fairygodboss is my mother. I am the proud daughter of Colombia's first female marine biologist. A real trailblazer. My mother epitomized unconditional love, but she also epitomized unconditional discipline. Mom taught me the importance of earning my way. I wouldn't be where I am today, if it weren't for her unconditional support and the values she instilled in me.
What do you do when you're not working?
When I am not working, I enjoy dining out, listening to live music and spending time with family and friends. It's important for me to workout — it keeps me balanced — so I find time to run, go to the gym and stay active, whether I am at home or traveling. When I am out of town, I look for local races to participate in. I was recently relocated to Dallas, Texas for work, so I am enjoying exploring different places and meeting new people. I also make it a priority to go to church on Sundays.
Lightning Round: What is your karaoke song?
My favorite karaoke song is "Don't Cry" by Ken Laszlo. I love singing it with my best girlfriends from high school at our favorite "tiki." We take a weekend trip together every year, and sing this song at the top of our lungs.
Lightning Round: What is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie of all times is "Dirty Dancing" with Patrick Swayze. I think I watched it more than thirty times in my teenage years (thanks to the Betamax). Last year, I watched "Coco" with my young niece, Lucia, and really enjoyed the story.
Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
I'm currently reading the book "Yellow" by my good friend and author, David Gómez. This book is a business parable where the lessons from a taxi driver change the life of a company that needs to reconnect with their customers.
Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
My shopping vice is shoes. If I won the lottery, I would pay for my nieces and nephew's higher education, I would take my entire family on a nice trip overseas and would donate to non-profits supporting underrepresented communities, women and minorities interested in STEM.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Take risks! Be courageous! Understand financial acumen, invest in relationship and speak up and share your ideas. Remember: it's not who you know, but who knows you!
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.