Fighter Pilot Keynote Speaker

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Manufacturing Keynote Speaker | Manufacturing, Automotive, Supply Chain Keynotes | Mach2Consulting

Manufacturing industries are undergoing increased digitization, where much of the value creation is coming from technologies driven by software and big data.   Automotive, chemicals – even consumer packaging is being increasingly impacted by Moore’s law.

In parallel with all of this, the US military has also been undergoing a process of digitization – in all the services – and it’s dramatically impacting how we prepare to fight wars.   The parallels that can be found in business are legion, and those involved manufacturing – planners, plant managers, material buyers, and so forth – can take many lessons from what is occurring in the domain of the warfighter.

Below are summaries of some of the learnings that we like to run over when delivering manufacturing keynote speeches at association meetings, annual sales meetings, and the like.

Manufacturing Keynote Speech
Manufacturing Association Keynote Speech
Robotics in Manufacturing Keynote Speech
Semiconductor Manufacturing Keynote Speech
Digital Transformation of Manufacturing Keynote Speech
Automotive Keynote Speech
TQM Keynote Speech
Plastics Manufacturing Keynote Speech
Supply Chain Keynote Speech
Consumer Packaging Keynote Speech
Chemical Manufacturing Keynote Speech


Keynote Speaker on Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Manufacturing Speech

Manufacturing Keynote Speaker | Manufacturing Keynote Speech

Manufacturing in the United States is increasingly fueled by technologies such as advanced additive manufacturing technologies, robotic manufacturing techniques, and predictive maintenance.  Another trend that is reshaping manufacturing is real-time data collection and analysis. Increasingly, manufacturers are automating all facets of their production process. This includes workforce management, asset management, and real-time data collection and analysis. Real-time data collection and analysis allow manufacturers to make the most of their existing and future resources by enabling them to make informed decisions on the manufacturing floor.

The military is doing similar things with weapons systems; for instance, maintaining a virtual clone of a fighter jet that tracks every aspect of its component parts, including maintenance that has occurred, wear and tear, and so forth, to give maintenance teams a complete 360-degree view of the system. Another example would be the adoption of additive manufacturing for some components in the field, to allow maintenance teams to more rapidly replace parts without having to incur the time and waste of a long supply chain.

Manufacturing Association Keynote Speaker Speech

Manufacturing Association Keynote Speaker Speech

Manufacturing Association Keynote Speaker | Manufacturing Association Keynote Speech

For the past 26 years, Anthony “AB” Bourke has been delivering highly interactive keynote speeches to manufacturing associations around the world.  Groups like The American Chemistry Council (ACC), Manufactured Housing Association (MHA), The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), International Society of Automation (ISA) and many others have used Bourke to inspire their people to raise the bar on quantity, quality, efficiency and safety in the manufacturing industry.  AB’s fighter pilot focused themes like “Executing at Mach 2”, “Leading at Mach 2” “Innovating at Mach 2” and “The Chain of Events Leads to the Scene of The Accident” resonate deeply with manufacturing groups who are looking to raise their game and stay ahead of the competition.  For manufacturers who are focused heavily on Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma, The Fighter Pilot’s Feedback Loop of Regular Briefing and Debriefing are a natural complement to any manufacturing company trying to drive a culture of continuous improvement.


Keynote Speaker on Robotics in Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Robotics in Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Robots in Manufacturing | Manufacturing Robotics Keynote Speech

The debate as to whether industrial robots are a positive thing for the economy has been settled.  As with all other technologies introduced in the last several hundred years, industrial robots free up workers to focus on other things; and in cases where fewer workers are needed, they can work in other industries.  

However, the military is just now coming to grips with its own version of this debate.  Specifically, in the realm of fighter jets.  Automated fighter jets that can fly themselves are currently termed “loyal wingman” – essentially a PR move by the military to make them sound friendlier and more acceptable to pilots.  They are being marketed as attritable weapons systems that can be sent on ahead into a hostile area, drawing enemy fire so that the pilot can then take out antiaircraft systems and so on.  This innovation in aerial warfare technology isn’t lost on tactical aviators. It seems fairly obvious where this trend will lead.  The fighter jet eventually becomes essentially a cruise missile capable of dispensing other types of weapons – missiles, bombs and bullets, and the pilot may become a thing of the past.  Do I support this?  No.  Am I happy about it?  Also no.  Is it inevitable?  Very likely!   The debate occurring in the military over these types of technologies (not just for fighter jets but for land-based systems and even robotic soldiers) is a microcosm of our society.  One thing that is certain in combat and in business is that change is inevitable.  As a former United States Air Force F-16 pilot who also flew the F-4 Phantom, technological innovations and upgrades only made my job easier and made me much more effective in the cockpit and on the battlefield.  The same is true for employees on an assembly line or in manufacturing plant right up until the technology is so good that fighter pilots and “manufacturing fighter pilots” are no longer needed.

Corporations can utilize “big data” to replace numerous white-collar workers. Insurance company’s “robotics” efforts to handle claim processing exceptions is a good example.  This is little different than replacing a blue-collar worker with automated manufacturing and artificial intelligence on the assembly line.

Our society is going to have to come to grips with these trends; one thing is clear – robotics companies, big data companies, and software companies all have a bright future – workers and corporations would do well to take heed of that!


Semiconductor Manufacturing Keynote Speaker Speech

Semiconductor Manufacturing Keynote Speaker Speech

Semiconductor Manufacturing Keynote Speaker | Electronics Keynote Speaker

Semiconductor manufacturing has undergone some recent high-profile issues that have been at the forefront of international news. A combination of factors such as the post-COVID recovery, huge demand for IT equipment due to workers as well as teens and young adults working from home during the COVID lockdowns, concentration of manufacturing into a small number of players such as TSMC, and even a few fires at several semiconductor manufacturing plants have caused chip shortages that have impacted everything from home appliances to cars. The United States military has traditionally dealt with key component risk via a variety of means – requirements that certain parts be manufactured by United States companies, “second source” agreements where a particular design can be manufactured by another company if the need arises; even buying large numbers of strategic parts years and years ahead of their need has played a part in planning. Now corporations throughout the economy are discovering that they need to take a page out of the US Military’s book and pursue some of the same approaches.
The electronics industry, with its emphasis on contract manufacturers operating out of China and various Southeast Asian countries, has its own vulnerabilities as well. Seeing some re-shoring of manufacturing in some of these cases may not seem a realistic objective, given the huge cost advantages of assembling products overseas, but it’s hard to imagine that the US will simply continue to offshore manufacturing to China until there’s nothing left.


Keynote Speaker on Digital Transformation of Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Digital Transformation of Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on the Digital Transformation of Manufacturing

There are a number of challenges that face the manufacturing industries. They include issues related to labor and productivity, issues related to environmental cleanliness, issues related to the adverse effects of information technology on competitiveness, issues related to the loss of competitive advantage and issues related to the introduction of new business processes and technologies. To face these issues, transformation strategies need to be devised and implemented.
Automation is emerging as one of the most important tools for the digital transformation of manufacturing capabilities. It helps manufacturers reduce the cost of production, which is highly beneficial to the overall profitability of the manufacturing industry. It helps the manufacturers to achieve greater levels of productivity and to accelerate the speed at which changes are made in the manufacturing process.
Digitization is having a huge impact on the product design and manufacturing process. Boeing for instance has been pursuing a strategy of digitally designing their planes; the U.S. military has taken this a step further and has been creating digital analogs of F-35 fighters whose components digitally “age” and all have detailed maintenance logs attached to each item. One can see a future where a design originally intended for manufacturing purposes may actually end up being be a living document that lasts throughout the entire lifecycle of a product or system.


Keynote Speaker on Automotive Speech

Keynote Speaker on Automotive Speech

Keynote Speaker on Automotive | Automotive Keynote Speech

It’s easy to see how the car industry is very similar to the fighter jet industry.  Both involve expensive individual systems comprised of numerous components; both markets share concerns about performance and fuel efficiency; and they both have very specific market requirements and regulatory constraints that they must satisfy.  Safety, standardization, integration with supply chains of subcomponent vendors – all quite similar.  In fact, one need look back no further than World War II, where Automotive factories in Detroit manufactured fighter planes to support the war effort. While one could argue that specifications and safety standards must be even higher in aviation manufacturing than in automobile manufacturing, the commitment to quality and excellence is very similar.  

As a fighter pilot I was always amazed at how many technologies that I used for years in my F-16 ultimate ended up in my automobile.  GPS is the most visible example of this phenomenon today.  Most automobile drivers in today’s world remember a time when we heard about the capabilities of GPS but that it’s applications were limited in automobiles and other civilian applications because the military wouldn’t allow their satellites to be used for commercial purposes.  Slowly automobile manufacturers and their partners were given access to GPS satellites but they could not access the same degree of accuracy that we were granted flying F-16, F-15’s, A-10’s and F-18’s.  Today every automobile manufacturer in the world is benefitting from installing onboard GPS systems in their automobiles that are good enough to navigate in the most congested cities and the most untraveled rural routes.  Better yet every cell phone now contains the exact same technology making navigation by car, bike or on foot easier than ever before.   

But there’s more coming.  As automobile manufacturers around the world develop driverless cars, the data-link systems that fighter pilots and tank drivers use to track our wingmen and their weapon systems are being incorporated into the world of driverless automobile and truck manufacturing.  The radar technologies that fighter pilots have used for years have also been incorporated into manufacturing automobiles both driverless and driver assisted.   

The bottom line is that the automobile manufacturers of today and tomorrow have the same high standards and need for perfect execution as do our military airplane manufactures.  The technology developed in the military is highly applicable to the civilian and commercial world and the military will continue to have a significant impact on innovation and product design and development in the world of automobile manufacturing. 

Keynote Speaker on TQM Speech

Keynote Speaker on TQM Speech

Keynote Speaker on Total Quality Management TQM | Total Quality Management Keynote Speech

In the words of Mary K. Pratt ”Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management framework based on the belief that an organization can build long-term success by having all its members, from low-level workers to its highest ranking executives, focus on improving quality and, thus, delivering customer satisfaction.

TQM requires organizations to focus on continuous improvement, or kaizen. It focuses on process improvements over the long term, rather than simply emphasizing short-term financial gains.”

I love this definition of TQM and have always been amazed at how similar the TQM approach to manufacturing is to the approach that fighter pilots use to fly, fight and win in modern day tactical jets. For tactical aviators this starts with the credo that fighter pilots are made, not born. While some would try to argue that there are pilots graced with god God-given flying skills, what really make a great fighter pilot is training and constant reinforcement of standards, procedures and techniques that allow us to achieve peak performance in a safe manner every time we fly.  As importantly, fighter pilots never settle with “good enough”, and are constantly striving to drive a culture of continuous improvement.   

Great manufacturing operations embrace this same ethos through Total Quality Management.  They know that if they invest in training their people to do the job the right way, and the way that’s been proven to keep everyone safe that their factories will operate more effectively, and efficiently which will ultimately lead to happy customers and happy employees. The TQM mantra of constantly improving quality starts with setting clear, measurable goals and objectives and then going back to review how the individuals and the team performed against these objectives.  In a manufacturing facility, these objectives are often around output, quality of products, costs, as well as safety tracking against accidents and incidents in the plant.   

Fighter pilots approach their business the same way though what we call a “Feedback Loop” of regular Briefing and Debriefing. Just like like with TQM, pilots believe in open planning and soliciting input from all stakeholders in a mission so that our flight lead can come up with the best and safest possible plan to ensure mission success.  Once that plan is fully formed, it is always the flight leads job to “Brief the plan” to his team.  This Briefing includes measurable mission objectives, clear tactics and contingency plans so that the team will be aligned, will fly in formation, will execute at the highest level and will come home safely.  TQM also emphasizes that leaders provide clear communication of plans and objectives to their people so that every person on the team knows their role, is aligned with the rest of the team and will operate in a safe manner. 

But tactical aviators and great manufacturers know that nothing ever goes exactly as planned.  Fighter pilots like to say that “no fighter pilot has ever flown the perfect mission” and manufacturing organizations know that they will never have a perfect shift, a perfect day, or a perfect project.  This is why great manufacturers focus on Kaizen and great fighter pilots put a huge emphasis on Debrief.  Both processes are designed to look back at the objectives we set out to accomplish, identify how we performed against those stated objectives and most importantly explore how we can do things even better and more safely the next time we embark on the mission.  Kaizen and Debrief are designed to drive a culture of continuous improvement, and continuous innovation that will keep our organizations leading in their space.  For manufacturing operations this approach leads to better products, safer operations and happy customers and for fighter pilots this leads to winning the war and bringing everyone home safely.


Keynote Speaker on Plastics Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Plastics Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Plastics Manufacturing | Plastics Manufacturing Keynote Speech

Over the past 25 years, I have had the pleasure of working with many manufacturing teams and associations around the world.  My first exposure to the world of plastics manufacturing was working with Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), before they changed their name to the Plastics Industry Association.  While many of us will never forget the great line in The Graduate when Mr. McGuire pulls Ben (Dustin Hoffman) aside and famously says “Ben, I want to say one word to you. Just one word: Plastics.”  That quote stuck with me for years in my high school and college days and I’m not sure it made the best impression.  For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised when I met the members of SPI’s National Board.  This group was composed of CEOs of family businesses and Leaders of the biggest companies in the plastic manufacturing space like Dupont, Dow Chemical.   

What I took away after delivering a 60 minute, interactive keynote speech to this group on “Leading at Mach 2”, that these were people who were highly committed to quality, innovation, leadership, investment in community, as well as hiring and retaining the best talent available.  This last point struck me as ironic, since I had always assumed that working in a plastic manufacturing plant was somewhat mindless work.  They helped me realize that innovation in plastic manufacturing represented the cutting edge of technology and that 98% of 3D Printing at the time was done on plastic. They pointed out that plastics were critical to everything from manufacturing light weight, fuel efficient cars to manufacturing the best medical devices in the world. They also forecasted that in the not too distant future, every Operating Room around the world would have a 3D printer in it so that they could design and produce perfect parts for their patients.   

I learned more about the plastics industry a few years later when I delivered a keynote speech titled “Innovating at Mach 2” to Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. based in Ontario, Canada.  Husky makes the molds for bottling lines at companies, like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and many others who make high quality plastic containers at high volume and low cost.  Husky was and still is all about Executional Excellence.  It is critical to them and to their clients that once the assembly line is running and bottles are being molded that the process flows smoothly and that exact specifications are achieved every time.  Husky believes that this type of precision manufacturing relies on cross functional cooperation across many company disciplines.  They invested heavily in my Feedback Loop of regular Briefing and Debriefing to ensure that the team was aligned and flying in formation throughout their projects and that they were driving a process of continuous improvement.  Just like for fighter pilots, if the project goes smoothly and plastic molds are produced to perfection, no one ever says thank you.  You’ve just done your job.  But if anything goes wrong on the plastic bottling line, or someone gets hurt there’s hell to pay and they take the brunt of the blame. 


Keynote Speaker on Supply Chain Speech

Keynote Speaker on Supply Chain Speech

Keynote Speaker on Supply Chain | Supply Chain Keynote Speech

I will never forget when I was the keynote speaker for the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference in 2018.  It was packed with over 2,200 attendees who were there to network, learn, and think about new ways to innovate in what had become one of the hottest industries in the world.  Once considered a “boring” industry often referred to as shipping, trucking and logistics, The Global Supply Chain was now one of the sexiest places to work in the world.  Thanks to innovations by FedEx, UPS, Amazon, the internet, cell phones, bar code scanners and a host of other cutting-edge technologies the global supply chain was the lifeblood of every manufacturing company in the world.  It allowed inventory to be delivered to the factory just in time so that products could be produced right on schedule and delivered to stores or the customers almost on demand.  This intricate dance called the global supply chain dramatically drove down costs and inventory hold time which resulted to quality goods being delivered to customers at a dramatically reduced cost.  

The attendees of this conference were no longer considered truckers and shippers.  They were business leaders who were all committed to the conference theme of “Move to Mastery – Innovate, Disrupt and Scale the Digital Supply Chain”.  The global supply chain was no longer static, instead it was a business of disruption and leapfrogging previous solutions and technologies in a world where goods and products were moving around the world at transonic speeds.  My speech to them was titled “Leading at Mach 2” and I focused my messaging heavily on adapting to rapid change.  I also talked about how they could help their key customers grow, change and innovate with them so that they Global Supply Chain didn’t leave them behind.  With the growth that all of these global supply chain leaders were experiencing, they are very focused on scalability from a perspective of leadership, recruiting and talent which they knew was critical to help them keep pace with the constant innovation in the global supply chain. 


Keynote Speaker on Consumer Packaging Speech

Keynote Speaker on Consumer Packaging Speech

Keynote Speaker on Consumer Packaging | Consumer Packaging Keynote Speech

Consumer Packaging is increasingly going to be impacted by the effects of Moore’s law in the coming years.  As sensors and processors get cheaper and more powerful, the Internet of Things will extend to individual product packaging.  Imagine for instance picking up grapes at the grocery store, in packaging that can monitor the grapes off-gassing and determine when they are no longer fit to eat. This would allow both supermarkets and consumers to recognize that they will soon spoil so they can prioritize using them.   The US Military similarly may end up with self-monitoring artillery shells, fuel tanks, and so forth.  Any time you can monitor a product, component, or material as it is manufactured and moves through the supply chain, the opportunity to eliminate defects and perform predictive failure analysis becomes greater.

This technology was adopted by the United States Air Force many years ago with the arrival of the F-16 Viper.  Prior to the “electric jet” coming on the scene, aircraft mechanics and crew chiefs often conducted countless visual inspections to make sure that all of the systems in the F-4 Phantom, the A-10 Warthog, The F-15 Eagle and other weapons platforms to make sure all systems were working correctly.  With the arrival of the F-16 all systems were digital and now crew chiefs would simply plug a diagnostic code scanner into the jet to see which systems were working and which had problems.  This approach reduced the ratio of maintenance hours to flight hours dramatically and led to much safer flight operations. The ultimate outcome may lie in having many components live virtually in some way; similar to the Air Force’s vision of maintaining a virtual analog of a fighter jet that reflects  and wear and tear of each component.


Keynote Speaker on Chemical Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Chemical Manufacturing Speech

Keynote Speaker on Chemical Manufacturing | Chemical Manufacturing Keynote Speech

Deglobalization, reshoring, and nearshoring are trends that can impact not only markets for finished goods and components, but also materials and supplies like chemical inputs.  These trends are being driven by an increased sense of Nationalism around the world, deteriorating US-China relations, and the increasing realization that having certain key supply chains dependent on another country can be a real national security risk.

With all its admitted faults, cost overruns, and bureaucracy, the fact remains that the US Military’s procurement arms have done a good job of minimizing dependencies in its supply chains on the US’s large competitors; other manufacturing ecosystems can take a page out of the Military’s playbook and emulate some of those practices, including the Chemical manufacturing industry.   Risk mitigation by the Chemical Manufacturing industry’s customers will inevitably result in less of a “just-in-time” focus (think how the military orders spare parts literally decades in advance for certain critical weapons systems); as a result, capital allocations, manufacturing strategies, and key supplier relationships are going to be impacted. Fortunately, modern technologies such as IoT-enabled supply chain monitoring, and smart contracts with suppliers leveraging blockchain technology, as well as AI/Big data type solutions, should be helpful to Chemical Manufacturers looking to weather the storm of change.

If you’re looking for a military veteran keynote speaker for your upcoming annual meeting or event, we hope you’ll consider Anthony “AB” Bourke, a former USAF F-16 Pilot and proven business leader as great solution to inspire and motivate your group. For more details click here:


The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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