Strategy Amidst Complex Geopolitics

Fletcher students get strategy insight from Boeing in “Field Studies in Global Consulting” course
Rik Geiersbach addresses the audience in front of a screen

“What would you tell General Motors in 1960, if you knew the future?” Vice President of Strategy for Boeing Defense, Space, & Security Rik Geiersbach posed this question to a room full of Fletcher students during a recent visit to campus. Student responses varied: some mentioned the 1970s energy crisis while others remarked on long-term technical innovations. Geiersbach’s point was to underscore how difficult it was for organizations to prepare for significant change even if they had perfect vision into the future.

Hosted as part of the Institute for Business in the Global Context’s speaker series, Geiersbach’s visit marked an important moment in the semester for students in Professor DP Singh’s “Field Studies in Global Consulting” course. Singh’s students work on various client teams, consulting to companies such as Boeing on a variety of strategic questions; Geiersbach advises students on how they can turn strategy theory into practice. Jesse Nuese Yaker, a second-year MIB student currently enrolled in this course, explained that Geiersbach’s insight has helped shape his thinking on corporate strategy.

“The opportunity to work with a company like Boeing has innumerable professional development benefits,” said Nuese Yaker, “from understanding the types of strategy challenges organizations like Boeing face at scale, to grasping the perspective of an external consultant deep-diving into a new firm and set of issues.” Through this course, Nuese Yaker and his peers hope to learn how a company balances short-term actions while mitigating uncertainty in the long-term.  

Several students sit in a row in a lecture hall.

Whether reconciling short- and long-term pressures or diagnosing contemporary challenges, Geiersbach recognizes that strategy involves balance. Those developing and executing strategy must recognize that it involves making trade-offs between resources and monitoring market trends. Strategy is not static: it involves integrating geopolitics, national security, business, and law into a cohesive and comprehensive plan of action. At Boeing, this means embracing the vision of protecting, connecting, and exploring the world.

Geiersbach also explained that industry analysis, regardless of the sector, can be broken down into customer trends, competitors, and investors. Boeing, a company that has commercial, services, and defense portfolios, has closely followed the changing dynamics of the 21st century technology market, and is now spending more time and resources on space-based technologies and capabilities.

What this means for Fletcher students in Singh’s course is that they gain tangible and practical skills that prepare them for real world challenges. As first-year MIB student Nikki Vardiparti explained, “The opportunity to work with Boeing provides students with a unique chance to gain hands-on experience and build the necessary skills for the future. Working with Boeing, one of the oldest companies in the aerospace and defense industry, gives students a competitive advantage in the job market.”

Many students at Fletcher, including Vardiparti, recognize that developing effective strategy requires multidisciplinary expertise. Vardiparti’s interest in Fletcher’s MIB program stemmed from the fact that she could approach complex issues through business, policy, and international relations perspectives. Vardiparti and Nuese Yaker, who are both members of the Boeing client team, apply this multidisciplinary perspective to their current consulting project, which looks at the changing geopolitical landscape and its implications for Boeing.

Geiersbach emphasized how increased innovation in the technology and defense industries means that experts must come together to learn the “rules of the road” for operating in unknown environments. As a result, spending time with senior leaders like Geiersbach allows Fletcher students to combine hands-on professional development opportunities with rigorous academic training.

“The partnership between Fletcher and Boeing is a source of strength for the institution,” said Vardiparti, “and it serves as a testament to its commitment to excellence.”

Read more about Fletcher's MIB degree program.