Lizy Paul's abilities to actively listen, maintain flexibility, think strategically and collaborate to be part of the solution have earned her the trust and credibility of her peers in industry and academia.
Paul, director of Technical Strategy for the Advanced Solutions, Data Links, and Tactical Communications businesses within Mission Systems at Collins Aerospace, has been elected to a two-year term as chair of the National Spectrum Consortium.
The National Spectrum Consortium is comprised of technologists, engineers, scientists, manufacturers and program managers from more than 400 U.S. companies and academic institutions. These individuals work closely with their counterparts in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to solve problems regarding spectrum-related technologies. Paul is the first woman to chair the organization.
"Never in a million years did I think I would one day end up working with senior U.S. defense officials to help solve tough technology challenges," said Paul. "And then to be elected chair of an organization that's working to accelerate the development of next-generation technologies that will provide our warfighters an edge on the battlefield … it's almost surreal."
The consortium's newly formed joint working groups (U.S. government, industry and academia) will enable close collaboration to proactively shape and influence U.S. and global technology standards in key areas like Spectrum Superiority and 5G, said Paul.
"The electromagnetic spectrum is getting increasingly congested, constrained and contested," said Paul, who has been with Collins since 2005. "This means we need innovative solutions for spectrum dependent systems to operate in these challenging spectrum environments for robust uninterrupted warfighter communications."
Surfing an unexpected wavelength
Born and raised in Bangalore, India, Paul — a self-proclaimed tomboy — always enjoyed spending time with her father, learning how to run a successful company and learning about building homes and churches. He's also the person who inspired her to pursue an engineering career.
"My dad was very supportive and always told me I could do anything," recalled Paul, who became the first person in her family to earn an engineering degree. "I've also had very strong mentors over the years and a good support network. They've always reminded me to be confident and have no fear."
That's not to say Paul hasn't had to overcome obstacles. There have been times throughout her career when she felt she was unfairly treated, "not only because I was a woman, but because of my Asian heritage. Having the courage to address these instances as they unfolded has proven to be the best approach," said Paul. She believes everyone should rise above these challenges and feel empowered to advocate for themselves and positive change.
A trailblazer since childhood, Paul didn't let those obstacles stand in her way. She has worked hard to develop her own personal brand, and today strives to inspire women and young engineers.
"The advice I give young women is to always rise above and don't let others define you. Aim high and don't be afraid to follow your passion," said Paul. "Have confidence in your capabilities with a 'can-do' attitude. Surround yourself with supportive family, friends and mentors, and they will lift you up and give you the courage you need to push through difficult situations."
When she thinks about where her career has taken her — to more than 19 countries and a two-year expat assignment in Singapore — Paul finds herself somewhat in disbelief.
"I'm grateful to the United States for giving me so many opportunities," she said. "My passion is to keep this country safe and I can do that by helping it solve its hardest problems."