Damien Mills: 40 Under 40 2012

Communications Director, The Boeing Company

In the highly sensitive world of military aviation, Damien Mills navigates a brilliant course as director of communications for mobility aircraft at Boeing Defense. Mills directs a nationwide team providing communications and marketing support for the company’s military airlift programs. During his 11-year career at the company, he’s been at the forefront of communications and media relations in the US and abroad, including managing international communications for Boeing’s defense business during a period in which revenues doubled.

Achievements include relaunching the corporate communications team for Boeing Australia, the largest Boeing subsidiary outside of the US. He built the team from two to 16 and expanded the budget by more than 800%. Mills headed up communications for the 2009 launch of the F-15 Silent Eagle tactical fighter jet, scoring cover stories in the world’s top four aerospace publications.

Among other notable successes was his deft handling of media relations around the multibillion-dollar US Air Force procurement program, which resulted in Boeing winning the contract to supply the KC-46 aerial refueling aircraft. Whether handling crisis communications or pitching stories, Mills is particularly adept at building good relationships with the media, working with reporters both on and off the record.

"This is especially noteworthy given the demands of his highly conservative industry," explains Amy Butler, senior Pentagon editor for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, who lauds Mills’ ability to deal with "extremely sensitive customers such as the US and international militaries and the pitfalls of the unusually thorny and relentless Washington, DC, media environment."

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," adds Butler, "and I see Damien’s colleagues, subordinates, and, at times, competitors emulating his no-nonsense style. It’s an indication of his skill and the impact he’s had not only on his employer, but also the PR profession."

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