Vice President, Mission Assurance
As vice president of Mission Assurance, Dr. Wade is responsible for leading end-to-end Mission Assurance, Performance Excellence, Records Management and Raytheon Six Sigma™ enterprisewide. He is focused on driving operational excellence and improvements across Raytheon’s full spectrum of programs to achieve mission success for our customers. With more than 19 years of experience in the public, private and government sectors, Wade’s diverse experience is well suited to address Mission Assurance. Prior to joining Raytheon, Wade led the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Safety and Mission Assurance Office. He also held several leadership and management positions at NASA, including manager for International Space Station Safety and Mission Assurance/Program Risk Office. Wade holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, space science and business administration.
He earned his doctorate in aerospace engineering sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Technology Today recently spoke with Wade about his priorities and strategies for Raytheon Mission Assurance.
TT: Given your background in both the private and government sectors, what attracted you to Raytheon?
JW: I was attracted to Raytheon because of its focus on technical excellence, its involvement in a wide range of programs and for its commitment to customer success. The performance of our systems is key; our nation’s strategic and security interests often lie in the balance. Having been involved with human spaceflight safety and mission assurance at NASA, Raytheon’s expectation for rigorous and thorough mission assurance is familiar territory. In contrast, when the concept of mission assurance was introduced at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, an FFRDC (federally funded research and development center) environment, the elements for mission assurance were identified and the approach tailored for each program, depending on that program’s risk tolerance.
Raytheon Mission Assurance uses the best of both approaches, bringing Raytheon’s vast resources to bear: diverse and talented people, rigorous processes, and a culture of excellence focusing on customer success. Raytheon offers a great opportunity to collaborate across the enterprise with outstanding teams to ensure the best solutions for our customers, and a culture of continuous improvement through Raytheon Six Sigma.
TT: What does Mission Assurance mean to you? Why is it important? How does it fit into the development process?
JW: Mission Assurance means delivering a solution that meets or exceeds customer expectations in terms of performance, reliability, safety, affordability and delivery time. It is a team effort requiring coordination and communication across the enterprise, across all functions and with the customer. All team members must know their responsibilities, execute flawlessly and be personally accountable. Our collective commitment solidifies our customers’ confidence that our products will perform reliably. Mission Assurance is the cumulative result of all of our efforts.
We employ checks and balances to ensure our processes and products operate correctly. We pay attention to detail throughout the program life cycle from initial design through fielding and support. We use the same approach with our suppliers.
Our commitment to Mission Assurance is demonstrated at every step in the product development process. Raytheon’s Integrated Product Development System (IPDS) integrates the work of engineering disciplines and organizational functions into one process framework. IPDS leverages Mission Assurance, driving proper development, production and support of products to deliver greater value and predictability.
TT: What Mission Assurance advancements have you initiated, and what are your goals for the future?
JW: Consolidating best practices across the company, four new policies were recently released that affect product requalification: failure reporting, analysis and corrective action; failure review boards; and counterfeit parts mitigation and prevention.
A Raytheon Mission Assurance guide is under development with the goal of providing common understanding and expectations, and to clarify and coordinate the key process elements that should be applied to programs based on risk tolerance. This guide will reinforce existing IPDS processes, and serve as a road map for continuous improvement.
We also launched an initiative to improve the level of performance of the Mission Assurance function to better support programs across the enterprise. This involves defining a career path for the Mission Assurance professional with major roles identified. Specific skills will be assessed through Raytheon’s Talent and Career Explorer (TACE) system. Skills will be developed through a combination of formal training programs and work assignment, including business-specific experience and training.
TT: Tell us more about plans for Raytheon Six Sigma, and how it affects functional and program performance?
JW: Raytheon Six Sigma is our culture of continuous improvement. Recently we identified three goals as we focus on our R6σ® program across the enterprise.
First, as an effort to re-engage everyone in R6σ, we set an enterprisewide target of 95 percent R6σ Specialist qualifications by the end of 2014. This timing allows participants to identify and complete meaningful projects with business impact. In 2011 approximately 2,000 employees attained R6σ Specialist qualification. Understanding the language of continuous improvement is the first step of Raytheon Six Sigma.
Second, upon review of employee survey results, focus group feedback and other inputs, we are initiating R6σ program changes that will streamline project execution, focus on our changing markets with affordability initiatives, and improve our utilization of external six sigma experience.
Third, through improved R6σ leadership engagement, we are achieving our goal to increase program performance, impacting our businesses positively from growth and productivity aspects.
Our R6σ program is poised to reach new heights. Early indicators for 2012 include elevated requests for R6σ Expert certification and a greater demand for R6σ Experts from our businesses.
TT: From a career perspective, how would engineers become involved with Mission Assurance? What is the nature of the work, and what career opportunities are available?
JW: Raytheon’s Mission Assurance organization plays a vital role in ensuring that the products and services we provide to our customers always meet or exceed their requirements. This is enabled by ongoing initiatives in the areas of quality, supplier quality and Raytheon Six Sigma. We have opportunities for highly motivated and innovative people to evolve our processes and policies and apply six sigma for continuous improvement as we move forward and address future challenges.
Raytheon’s commitment to Mission Assurance is clear. When program issues arise, we systematically investigate and verify root causes, and contain potential issues which may occur in related systems. We proactively prevent issues and failures by learning from other programs through common failure reporting and lessons learned systems.
If you are interested in helping programs succeed by ensuring robust designs, understanding and addressing weaknesses in a system, and performing forensics on program issues, you may want to explore a career in Mission Assurance.
TT: From a Mission Assurance perspective, what are the significant parts and materials challenges faced by our industry, and how is Raytheon addressing them?
JW: Two challenges related to parts and materials are obsolescence management and counterfeit products. Diminishing sources of supply for the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry, along with changes in worldwide commercial requirements and demands, have created greater challenges in procuring parts and materials. Original equipment manufacturers continue to shift their resources away from our industry to support higher volume and more profitable commercial products. That action, coupled with legislation such as Restrictions on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in Europe and Asia, which encourage the use of lead-free solders by many suppliers, makes it more difficult to identify sources of supply for parts and materials we need to support our products and customers.
The effects of these process and requirements changes may not be apparent with commercial products, which have short product life cycles. For A&D systems, however, these changes have longer lasting effects. Raytheon’s IPDS provides our programs with planning and management guidance for mitigating the risks associated with obsolescence.
Counterfeit products are an increasing challenge for our industry. The diminishing supply of original equipment manufacturer parts and materials contributes to the demand. E-waste recycling provides counterfeiters with the supply to illegally satisfy that demand, and the Internet provides an easy marketplace and distribution channel.
Counterfeit electronic parts marked as military grade are being discovered by Raytheon and our industry partners at an increasing rate. Raytheon’s policy on counterfeit products risk mitigation and prevention documents the extensive processes we follow to safeguard our supply chain, and the measures we take to detect and eliminate counterfeit products before they can become a risk to the systems we manufacture and deliver.