From the Boeing Space Program, to Tommy Bahama, CWU business grad Doug Wood, ’87, has a good-humored view of his progress to Chief of Operations at the fastest growing lifestyle conglomerate in America.
After graduation, Wood began work as an administrator for the Boeing Defense and Space group. He credits his forward-thinking professors at Central for his rapid advancement at Boeing. Wood recalls a required computer class in spreadsheets where “I worked my butt off for just two credits.” But he was astounded when he walked through the doors at Boeing to discover they were still using typewriters.
Finding a computer set aside in a box, Wood put it together and “they thought I was doing black magic.” He was able to enroll in a Boeing-sponsored MBA program within six months “because I had [CWU] professors that were on the cutting edge” of business practices.
After seven years at Boeing, Wood began working for McCaw Cellular, in a division that was developing phones that could be used on airplanes. In 2000, AT&T Wireless acquired the division and, just as the air-to-ground telephony project was completed, it was immediately made obsolete by cell-phone technology.
“We became the buggy-whip of the twenty-first century,” says Wood with a laugh. “As vice president of operations, one of my last jobs was to lay everyone off—including myself.”
He served as a consultant with AT&T Wireless for several months before being tapped by the Tommy Bahama Corporate Group.
At that time, Tommy Bahama was a $200 million company, specializing in apparel, accessories, and home furnishings. Since Wood has come on board, the company has reported sales approaching $500 million and has licensed a variety of products, from its signature rum to restaurants.
Wood, a native of Kittitas County, has deep roots in the valley. His father worked for the City of Ellensburg, and his mother owned Buttons Jewelers in downtown Ellensburg from 1942 until it closed recently. He graduated from Ellensburg High School and returns regularly to visit family and friends. Wood also sits on CWU’s College of Business Advisory Board. And he and his family cherish their decades-old tradition of celebrating at the Kittitas County Fair and Ellensburg Rodeo every year.
“I haven’t missed an Ellensburg Rodeo Parade in forty-two years,” he says.
Doug received his MBA from Pacific Lutheran University and his Bachelors in Business Administration and Economics from Central Washington University.