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Building a Career Growth 'Flight Crew'

Space & Airborne Systems
Apr 2, 2024 | 1 MINUTE Read

With a career that spans decades in roles across the aviation industry, Kathy Crandall, president of Mission Networks for L3Harris Space & Airborne Systems, has learned plenty about leadership and career growth. Yet her biggest piece of advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps remains simple: Be excellent in the job you have today, and opportunities will follow.

Kathy Crandall bio portrait

 “Early on in my career, I focused on mastering each role and performing tasks with excellence, rather than solely focusing on advancement opportunities,” Kathy says. “Along the way, I built a foundation of knowledge and experience that has been pivotal in my career progression.”

It also helps to be passionate about the industry you serve – and for Kathy, that’s always been aviation. The daughter of an Air Force serviceman, she grew up on air bases surrounded by the sights and sounds of airplanes. After college, she started her career in aerospace and defense before shifting into the world of commercial aviation a decade later.

In her current role as Mission Networks president, Kathy leads a portfolio that includes mission-critical networks, surveillance, and enterprise information management solutions for major government, commercial and international customers. “There’s something so compelling about an industry that has such a profound global impact while also touching people’s lives in such a personal way,” she says.

Cultivate your network
Kathy also credits her growth as a leader not only to formal training opportunities, but to the network of mentors she’s cultivated throughout her career. “Having a range of mentors from different backgrounds has been tremendously helpful in rounding out my own capabilities,” Kathy noted. “I’m also a big believer in finding your ‘champions’ – or those who will support your advancement and go above and beyond to help you succeed.” Some of her most important leadership lessons have happened outside of formal mentorships. “I also learned a lot about leadership simply by observing those around me,” she said. “I made note of the behaviors I admired, and those I wanted to avoid. And I’ve factored that into my own approach over the years.”

With a diverse network of mentors around her, Kathy’s gained a wide range of skills and insights that have fueled her ascent in the aerospace industry. Her guidance for the next generation of female leaders in aviation, Kathy says it all comes back to the basics: Focus on being the best in every role. “Take on challenges, demonstrate competence and hone your leadership skills, and the rest will follow. With hard work excellence typically prevails,” she concluded.