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Women In Aviation - Sarah

Women In Aviation

Hello, I am the Director of Sales for the Americas for L3Harris’ Commercial Aviation products, based out of Phoenix, Arizona. I began work at L3Harris in September 2018 after more than 25 years in the global aerospace industry including service in the United States Air Force (USAF). I elected to move to L3Harris based on the opportunity to develop and mature a cross-division sales team for CAS. It has been incredibly rewarding to work with the Americas sales team as we forge a new structure and new processes for our expanded product portfolio.

The Americas team has responsibility for sales of all CAS products and services across North and South America. The Military sales team has the responsibility for the sale of our commercial avionics to the military and defense customers across the globe. My role is to ensure that CAS is successful in providing solutions for these customers. Every day is unique, but my activities are focused on aligning our capabilities to our customers’ needs. 

I love my job; more specifically I enjoy the fast-paced challenge of a sales leadership role within the aviation industry. Our current environment has been daunting and unpredictable, but has reinforced my belief in the importance of strong relationships with my team and with our customers. Taking care of our customers and our employees will result in a healthier business when the industry recovers.

This type of customer relationship enabled my participation in recent dialogue on a key industry issue. In 2020 I received an invitation to participate in an Asia Pacific Economic Council study on the how to increase opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups in the freight transportation sector. Participants from aviation, trucking and marine industries were consulted to develop a series of recommendations ranging from recruitment to retention. The final recommendations of the study were encouraging as it highlighted discrete actions that would have an economic benefit in the region. 

I believe there have been more conversations with deeper engagement in the industry in the past few years on the importance of diversity. I have not experienced many of the biases from my early career days (i.e. no women’s restroom in my work location, asked to get the coffee order, idea hijacking etc.) but I am still concerned that progress is too slow. For instance, I didn’t get a diverse candidate pool for a current open requisition, so I’ve had to go and personally recruit externally to ensure I have one. I have to ask, was the job description off-putting, did it not get marketed to the right folks? I am thrilled that I have a leadership team that supports and understands the benefits of diversity, but it still takes too much work to make it come to fruition. 

There are several important things I have learned during my career. First, make sure during meetings that you seek inputs of those that might not speak up in hopes it will lead to decisions based on multiple diverse inputs. Secondly, don’t compromise your ethics but know the consequences of not backing down for an issue, cause or opportunity. Finally, take action, don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.

To all women looking to start in the aviation industry, raise your hand for the task or assignment you aren’t quite sure you can do. Apply for the job you want even if your skills don’t match the criteria 100%. More importantly, be a role model for the next generation by volunteering in sports, clubs and charitable organizations.

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