Emerging Leader

Kia Smith

The Boeing Company

For technical excellence and transformative leadership; for championing diversity and inclusion in her workplace; and for serving as an inspirational role model for girls in her community.

Kia Smith serves as a regional supplier quality manager for Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS). In this role, she is responsible for 157 suppliers providing multiple parts and material to BDS, to build quality military and space products on time and within budget, using her practical engineering experience to guide organizational strategy. She and her team provide product verification and problem solving/analysis support when defects occur within the California region.

She interfaces regularly with senior management to improve the productivity of Boeing’s supply base. By training and developing her team, leading supplier recovery initiatives, and scheduling improvement events for high-visibility suppliers with defects, Smith helped to change quality management systems for suppliers. She implemented robust corrective actions for long-term impact and filled gaps between suppliers and subtier suppliers producing parts for Boeing space and defense products. Under her leadership, there has been a 10% improvement in first-time quality metrics.

Smith joined The Boeing Company in El Segundo, California, in 2018. She held positions including enterprise cybersecurity engineer, senior engineer, project manager, and project engineer within Boeing Space & Launch. As the Space & Launch external technical affiliate (ETA) focal, she connected employees with industry partnerships, enhancing career opportunities for people of color and diversifying Boeing’s talent pipeline.

Prior to joining Boeing, Smith served as a systems engineer with Raytheon in El Segundo, a project manager with Sullivan International, and a senior project engineer and program manager for Eaton Aerospace, where she earned certification in Design for Six Sigma.

As a volunteer, Smith has devoted many hours to mentor students as part of the Historically Black College and Universities Boeing Buddy Scholarship and Internship Program. As a Boeing ETA focal, she supports Boeing global engagement by attending and leading community events such as the Compton STEAMFest, which brought science, technology, engineering, art, and math to life for 300-plus students. She also created a “Girls in STEM” event to share aerospace opportunities with middle school children. Since 2000, she has volunteered at local schools and museums promoting STEM in the Black community.

Smith joined SWE in 2005 as a university student and is an active member of the SWE Boeing EL Segundo group. She volunteers for SWE annual conferences, where she represents Boeing at the career fair and hospitality suite. She has spoken on numerous panels as well as hosted a webinar for WE20.

She has received numerous awards, including the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year Modern Day Technology Award, 2021 Women of Color Technology Rising Star Award, and 2020 Bridge-To-Africa Connection Community Award. As she grows in her career, she continues to enact strategies to champion diversity and inclusion.

Smith earned a B.A. in physics at Southern University and A&M College and an MBA at Pepperdine University. She has many interests, including spending time with her partner, singing in the church choir, dancing, and karaoke.