By Dominic Gates / The Seattle Times
Nicole Piasecki, long one of the most prominent women executives at Boeing, has retired.
In a message to employees in her business unit, Piasecki said her retirement, effective Sept. 15, was prompted by touring colleges with her eldest son, who has two younger brothers.
“I look forward to more actively sharing in some of my sons’ most defining teenage experiences,” Piasecki told the employees.
Piasecki, 55, who most recently was vice president of propulsion systems, was practically groomed from birth to work in aviation.
Her father, Frank Piasecki, invented the twin-rotor helicopter that later evolved into the U.S. Army’s heavy-lift Chinook, and his first company, Piasecki Helicopter, later became Boeing’s rotorcraft plant in Philadelphia.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Yale.
After stints at Piasecki Aircraft and Weyerhaeuser (her mother was Vivian O’Gara Weyerhaeuser, from the wealthy timber family), she started at Boeing as an engineer on the 777 program in 1992.
She later stepped up to a series of executive roles, first in 1999 as a vice president in charge of sales to the large aircraft leasing companies
Alan Mulally tapped Piasecki to lead marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, a position she took just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She helped navigate the steep downturn that followed.
She became president of Boeing Japan in 2006, and worked there for three years trying to maintain the close relationships the jetmaker had with Japanese suppliers and airlines through the early years of the 787 Dreamliner delays.
She returned to the U.S. in 2010 as vice president of business development and strategy, and played a role in defining the next generation of Boeing aircraft, particularly the 737 MAX, the 787-10 and the 777X.
In 2013, she took over the propulsion systems division, where she brought back in-house some of the engine systems work on the MAX and the 777X that Boeing had outsourced on previous jets.
Her retirement was first reported Wednesday by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Reached that afternoon at home, Piasecki was going over college applications with her son.
“The timing is really important,” she said. “I’ve had 25 wonderful years.”