Caterpillar leader and military vet relies on teamwork, integrity for success

If you were to stop by Aaron Boyles’ desk at Caterpillar, in the procurement department in Peoria, Illinois, you wouldn’t find him there. Not until March 2020.

The reason?

He’s on a deployment with the U.S. Air Force, as part of the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Aaron joined the military after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., which inspired him to step up and defend his country’s freedoms. While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Aaron worked full time and also earned a bachelor’s degree and became a commissioned officer. He’s currently at the rank of Major.

When he’s not deployed, he does double duty – working at Caterpillar as global strategic buyer and serving as the commander of the 182 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, responsible for the team that maintains the wing’s eight C130 airplanes.

Both of these passions combine in his role as the treasurer for Caterpillar’s Armed Forces Network, an employee resource group that aims to bring awareness for military veterans interested in or currently working at the company.

For Aaron, there’s a lot of common ground between working for Caterpillar and serving in the military, starting with the company’s values and ethical culture – especially the commitment to integrity.

“Integrity is a huge key to the success of any corporation or organization. Are you going to do what’s right when no one is looking? I think that’s what really pulls people together despite their differences,” he said. “It takes everyone to contribute to our success. There’s not one position that’s more important than another – whether you’re in a support role or whether you’re designing a product. It takes everyone on our Cat team to move the needle forward.”

As a part of the global buyer team, Aaron is responsible for overseeing the purchasing from U.S.-based suppliers for the global market, sourcing the gearing for transmissions that goes in the axels and machines. His peers are buyers in other regions, responsible for purchasing from suppliers in other countries.

“We have one goal, and that’s to get the highest-quality parts at the best cost for Caterpillar – and for the best delivery performance for our suppliers. We work together cohesively to accomplish that,” he said. “If we don’t have different perspectives within a team, then we get siloed. Successful balance is being able to look at the facts and data as a team, and put on the team Caterpillar hat, instead of being siloed in our regions.”

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