You don’t have to have a round-the-world trip under your belt to be the Chief Financial Officer at Boom. But it definitely doesn’t hurt.
That’s just one of the many facets of Steve Weiland’s life, which he sometimes refers to as “delightful chaos.”
Weiland brings a wealth of financial experience to Boom. He joined after seven years at Caterpillar, most recently as CFO of one of its largest global divisions of 15,000 people. He also served as CFO of two procurement organizations. Prior to Caterpillar, he received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and then worked as an investment banker for 10 years.
Despite Weiland’s background, he wants you to know that he believes in balance, and has plenty of life outside of work as well.
He loves the outdoors, Colorado skiing, and playing guitar. He even sang in the Chicago Lyric Opera as a child and is a hobbyist beekeeper. Weiland and his wife have a 13-year-old son and 11-year-old identical twin girls. That keeps them pretty busy. Like he said — delightful chaos.
We sat down with Weiland recently to learn more about his role as CFO and how he’s helping Boom build the supersonic future.
What is your role at Boom?
I’m Boom’s Chief Financial Officer, leading finance and IT to help transform commercial air travel. My responsibility includes areas like accounting, financial planning and analysis, IT, tax, controls, raising capital, and supporting our team.
I am thrilled to be leading such an accomplished, diverse team that includes people with backgrounds from public audit, corporate finance, and successful start-ups. As a member of the executive team, I also have the opportunity to provide input to our other executives on the overall strategic direction of the company.
Explain your career journey. How did you make your way to Boom?
I’ve always had a lifelong intellectual curiosity in mechanical things and science. For example, even though I majored in accounting, I took engineering classes in college and earned a minor in technology and management. My parents were entrepreneurs who ran a small financial software company. Now looking back, perhaps it seems natural that I would ultimately gravitate to an innovative company like Boom.
When I received a call from an executive recruiter to explore Boom, it just seemed like a lot of things combined to make a wonderful opportunity for me. Of course, the pure excitement and transformational power of our mission and our CEO’s vision were enormous factors. But also looking back, my varied career experiences I think uniquely positioned me for the role.
What inspired you to work in aviation?
Who doesn’t think supersonic jets are cool? Seriously, though, I have always had a deep interest in mechanical things. I love being part of a company that manufactures a complicated, physical product. There is an excitement I feel when I walk through a factory or speak with an engineer about what they are working on. Those are always the best days. It’s hard to imagine what we will feel like when the first Overture rolls off the line at our Superfactory. It will be a historic moment.
How is your day-to-day work different at Boom than it was at other places you’ve held leadership positions?
Serving as the CFO of a fast-growing company like Boom has both similarities and differences to my prior roles. However, I’ll highlight just one thing: impact. Every single person on team Boom has a tremendous impact on our success — from the people helping to keep the office clean and sanitized to protect us from COVID so we can work, to the shop floor technicians working on our supersonic XB-1 demonstrator, to the senior team. As CFO, I have the privilege, with the support of our finance and IT team, to help shape decisions. It’s quite a responsibility and a source of fulfillment.
What role does finance have in building the supersonic future?
The teams in finance and IT have a critical role, just as do all the other teams. There are so many things come to mind — financial reporting and planning, IT infrastructure, systems and hardware, cyber security, financing the company as we grow, proper controls that balance the velocity we need while ensuring we operate in a compliant and transparent manner, and more.
However, in searching for the common thread here…it’s information. Finance and IT hold hands in providing the information necessary to manage the business and make strategic planning decisions — whether that is financial reporting or supporting the lifetime tracking of a part on a plane.
What inspires you most about the work you do?
This is an easy question for me: our team. The supersonic future is a heavy lift from all involved. Boom has assembled, and is assembling, a fantastic team. There is so much passion and excitement at Boom, especially now as more people return to physically working in the office. It’s hard to describe, but there is a huge buzz around our mission and it’s a source of energy for me. I think that working from home for most of the last two years was “draining” for a lot of people — it was for me at least. Working virtually has underscored the opportunity Overture has to bring more people together. Good things happen when more people can get more places in less time — it will unlock tremendous value.
Where is the first place you’ll go when you can fly supersonic?
My wife and I both studied abroad in college and traveled quite a bit before we had children. Sometimes we would even just go to London or Paris for a couple days. Please keep my secret, but I think I’d like to surprise her with a day trip to Paris for some wine and cheese on a park bench along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, then back in time to sleep in my own comfy bed.
Do you have a favorite air travel-related story you would like to share?
So many! One that comes to mind was answering my phone right before takeoff on a business trip, learning we were having twins, and then having to immediately hang up on my wife. My face went ghost white, and the person next to me asked if my family was ok thinking that something terrible had happened! Delightful chaos, remember?
But my favorite air travel story has to be our honeymoon. I had just graduated from business school and my wife was able to take two months off from work, so we traveled around the world. Departing from Chicago, we visited in order: Peru, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Dubai (UAE), Hong Kong, China, then back to Chicago.
On that trip, we hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, visited Igauzu Falls, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, went on a photo safari, went snorkeling in the Gulf of Oman, saw the Great Wall of China and Terra Cotta Warriors, and too many other adventures to list.
It was amazing and enabled by the time we had available at that point of our lives. I think about what else we can all do once flights take half the time. What will Overture unlock? Business, economic expansion, tourism, delivering life saving medical supplies — it’s very exciting.