Peter Hoffman is Vice President of Intellectual Property Management for The Boeing Company, the world’s largest aerospace company. Hoffman is responsible for strategies that protect and generate the highest possible value from this significant corporate asset. Hoffman specifically manages the company’s patent portfolio; protection of trade secrets; and licensing of technical data, images, consumer products, trademarks and patents. Hoffman, 57, reports to Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop.
Before his current appointment, Hoffman served as director of global research and development strategy for Boeing Research & Technology, the company’s advanced research organization. In that role, he was responsible for developing technology collaboration relationships with companies, universities and national laboratories around the world.
Hoffman played a leadership role in the expansion of Boeing’s global technology engagement, and he was instrumental in the establishment of research centres in Australia, India and China and numerous technology relationships in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
Hoffman earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering technology and a master’s of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, a master’s of manufacturing engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and a master’s of international business from St. Louis University. Hoffman is a board member of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Group at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, an Advisory Board member at the University of Tennessee College of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
I’m inspired by the people and teams at Boeing that make it look easy, when I know it is very difficult.
What attracted you to the aerospace sector?
I was mechanically inclined as a child and enjoyed drawing and have always been amazed by flying machines. Seeing an aircraft or space ship take flight still inspires me to this day.
What is your vision for Boeing’s future in the UK?
Boeing already has a strong presence in the UK; Boeing and its legacy companies have supported the Royal Air Force and commercial customers in the United Kingdom for 80 years. We’ve also doubled our own workforce in the UK since 2011, and our spending with the UK supply chain–about £2.1 billion last year alone–has since tripled.
We are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to meet our customers’ needs. I am excited that we’re building our first European manufacturing facility in South Yorkshire. Boeing Sheffield will open up a range of new opportunities for local employees, suppliers and partners and will expand our long-term relationship with UK industry, academia and government.
If you could change one element of technology, or a particular type of technology in the sector, what would that be?
Streamlining the path to certification. The rate of change and ability to leverage new innovations is often inhibited by the cost and time required to gain certification for new technologies.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When asking a trusted mentor many years ago about a full-time career move to international sales, he advised that I stay on my current path of keeping one foot in the technical world and one in the business world. I took that advice and the white space between these worlds has made for very interesting work.
What are your key successes to date?
My most rewarding professional moment to date has been seeing Boeing break ground for Boeing Sheffield in September of this year. Boeing Sheffield will be a 6,200-square metre building located adjacent to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a world-class research campus that Boeing co-founded with the University of Sheffield in 2001 and a partnership that I have been a part of since its inception. It feels like 16 years ago we had a vision and a dream, and that dream has come true. Boeing Sheffield for me symbolises how brave and open-minded Boeing is, and I’m honoured to work with inspirational visionary colleagues every day.
Describe your ideal day away from work?
A strong cup of coffee in the morning catching up on the news and pottering around my kitchen followed by getting some exercise and spending time with my family in the evening enjoying a good meal and a movie.
Who inspires you the most?
My Boeing teammates. It is truly amazing the level of expertise and innovation it takes to be a leader in the aerospace industry and I’m inspired by the people and teams at Boeing that make it look easy when I know it is very difficult.
What is your golden rule?
Treat others as you wish to be treated