When André Caldwell ’05 talks about climbing the career ladder, he uses the words quickly, efficiently and humbly.
Caldwell, senior counsel and director for mobility, surveillance and bombers at Boeing Defense, Space and Security, will serve as Wofford’s opening convocation speaker on Thursday, Sept. 7. The convocation begins at 11 a.m. in Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.
Caldwell visited Wofford’s Career Center in the Mungo Exchange earlier this year to share his career path and answer questions from students, many of whom are interested in careers in the law.
“I consider the weekend I came to Wofford to interview for the Richardson Scholarship the most pivotal weekend of my life to that point,” says Caldwell, who was awarded the scholarship and went on to double major in government and philosophy and become a student-athlete on the college’s track and field teams. “After that, I never turned down the opportunity to listen to possibility. My career has been a pipeline of relationships, mentoring and trust.”
Caldwell surprised even himself when he chose to attend law school at the University of Oklahoma, far from his family, hometown and Wofford friends. The decision, however, turned out to be what he needed, and the relationships he developed there led to an internship with the U.S. attorney’s office and a job as an assistant U.S. attorney (or federal prosecutor) after law school, an atypical path to that role.
“I’ve tried to pick the opportunities that would challenge me,” Caldwell told students. “That’s how you fuel growth, by making choices that stretch you.”
While in the U.S. attorney’s office, Caldwell worked a large-scale wiretap drug conspiracy case against the South Side Locos, a gang that was featured in an episode titled “Crazy Killers” on the FX TV series “Gangland.” He also prosecuted a doomsday prepper who was found in possession of a grenade launcher. In his four years as a prosecutor, he took 25 cases to trial and was awarded the FBI Excellence Award, presented by the director of the Bureau.
When Caldwell left the U.S. attorney’s office to work with Crowe & Dunlevy, at the time the oldest and largest law firm in the state, he did so with the idea of making himself a better candidate for a judicial position.
“I knew I needed civil experience,” says Caldwell, who later applied for a federal magistrate position and made it to the final round of interviews. Ultimately, the experience made him rethink his desire to join the judiciary and helped him realize that he needed another challenge.
Caldwell, now versed in commercial litigation and with the experience of helping the firm develop its white-collar criminal defense practice group, accepted a position with Ogletree Deakins, a large international firm that could give him the opportunity to return to the Southeast. At Crowe & Dunlevy, he was one of the go-to trial lawyers, mainly because of his courtroom litigation experience with the U.S. attorney’s office. At Ogletree Deakins, he was eager to build knowledge in employment law, and he helped establish a workplace investigation practice group, co-chairing the international arm of that practice area. With the firm, he quickly made partner and accepted leadership positions, including leading the firm’s Black Attorney Resource Group.
Then came another opportunity — this time with The Boeing Company in corporate law — thanks to the people who mentored him at the U.S. attorney’s office. He’s been with the company since June 2022 and is embedded in the mobility, surveillance and bombers group within the defense business division.
“It was a left turn in my career, but I knew the pedigree of the Boeing legal department, and I just kept thinking about how much I could learn from them,” says Caldwell. “So, here I am in a new challenge, and I love the challenge.”