Virtual Recruiting Event: Nestlé Marketing Information Session - Creating & Innovating Through Food & Beverage
Interested in Marketing careers at one of the world's leading food and beverage organizations?
Nestlé's Marketing team is looking for collaborative and agile professionals to join our best-in-class community of innovators! They are hiring for marketing associates, marketing managers, and more!
Hear from several of their leaders at this upcoming virtual information session taking place on April 29 from 4:00-5:00 pm.
Inspired by aviators and astronauts, Rhonda Walthall turned an early love of airplanes into a successful career as an engineer (and Collins Technical Fellow). Here's what she's learned along the way as a woman working in aerospace.
If Neil Armstrong had looked out the window of his farmhouse in Lebanon, Ohio in the late 1970s, he might have seen a teenaged, future aerospace engineer named Rhonda Walthall waving as she went by. Walthall's family lived close, and she always hoped to catch a glimpse of the famous astronaut.
"Growing up, I loved everything about airplanes and space," said Walthall, now a Collins Aerospace Technical Fellow and an industry leader in advancing Integrated Aircraft Health Management technologies. "I always did well in science and math but had no exposure to engineering. Back then, there were no girls allowed in shop class – we had to take home economics. I refused to take typing or shorthand, because I wanted to get away from all the stereotypes. I wanted something different, and I knew I'd have to find it for myself."
While she never actually saw Armstrong, Walthall was inspired to follow his footsteps to his alma mater, Purdue University. It was there, while earning her degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering that she met other young women exploring careers in science. Walthall's less-than-stellar eyesight dashed her dream of becoming an astronaut, but a dream to become an aerospace engineer took its place.
"As much as I loved aviation, I didn't fly on a plane until my junior year," she recalled with a laugh. "In those days, some planes had rows of seats that faced one another. I flew the entire way from Indianapolis to Hartford – to my first Society of Women Engineers conference of all things – facing backwards! I had never flown before, so I didn't know the difference."
Walthall spent very little time looking back after that. Her first job out of college was with McDonnell Douglas, where she was a principal flight test engineer for the company's C-17 program and the first civilian woman to fly on the aircraft. She also worked as a power plant engineer for Northwest Airlines before arriving at Collins 18 years ago and working her way up to her current position. In addition to her day job working in predictive analytic solutions for aircraft, she's an industry technical advisor for Purdue and serves in leadership roles for SAE International and the Prognostics and Health Management Society.
She is also invested in the futures of current and aspiring engineers. As an advocate for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, Walthall mentors early-to-mid career engineers at Collins, hosts "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" events for the Collins Charlotte office and works with other organizations, such as FIRST's Project Scientist, with a mission to inspire girls to stay the course in STEM.
"I want the next generation to feel more comfortable seeking support for their careers than I was," she explained. "Mentors, whether they are older, younger, male, female, in or outside your company, above or below you in the organization, are more objective than your friends and family. They can help you see that you're ready for the next thing, even if you're not so sure."
She makes a distinction between having a mentor – someone you reach out to and ask for guidance – and having a sponsor.
"Sponsors come forward and speak on your behalf," she said. "You may not even know you have a sponsor, but they see you at work, know what you're capable of, and advocate for you behind the scenes. Most often, sponsors choose you."
Walthall says she didn't realize how important sponsors were, or even what they were, until she realized she had some helping her.
"To have a sponsor, you need to be visible, wherever you are on your career path. And for some women – especially those who are more introverted or may be working in a remote location, it's easy not to be visible," she added. "You have to challenge yourself to step forward out of your comfort zone."
To that point, Walthall and her former boss and mentor – and now her friend -- Brenda Mitchell, recently co-authored a book about what it's like for women building careers in aerospace and defense.
They interviewed 33 women and nearly all spoke about the support systems – at home and at work -- that enabled them to break through challenges and succeed. Walthall often says her husband, now retired from a successful aerospace career of his own, has always been her biggest champion.
When asked who her heroes are now, Walthall, who has blazed a few trails herself, answered: "Whether we're talking about aviation pioneers like Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart who opened doors for us all, or the women leading in the industry today, I admire those who aren't afraid to be the first to do something then pave the way for others to follow."
Her advice for those engineering a career in aerospace or any other industry:
- Trust the people on your team to do their best work.
- Trying times are temporary. Keep the end goal in mind.
- Take care of yourself – don't work so hard you overlook your health.
- Ask for help when you need it – it's a sign of strength.
- There's no success without support. Be gracious, share credit and thank people for their hard work.
Watch the inspiring video above originally published by Relativity on their Youtube channel.
In celebration of Women's History Month Relativity, Women of the Workplace (RelWoW) hosted, Building Your Bench & Owning Your Career, a dynamic panel experience centered on mentorship with respect to career development.
Gender equality, professional growth, work-life balance: these were the aspirational topics shared during a virtual panel discussion on International Women's Day (IWD).
Four female Collins Aerospace executives, shared their stories of success, leadership and overcoming challenges. Collins' Asia Pacific Employee Resource Group hosted the discussion, which reflected this year's IWD theme, #choosetochallenge. Isolde Karro, Collins' chief communications officer, moderated.
Get to know the challenges
Collins Aerospace is an advocate of Paradigm for Parity, a movement that reflects the business' commitment to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. The goal is to achieve full gender parity by 2030, with a near-term goal of women holding at least 30 percent of senior roles.
Advancing women as leaders
Women continue to make significant strides in aviation, and to inspire a new generation of leaders. The essence of being a leader is by exhibiting accountability, empathy, integrity, and respectfulness, even when things are challenging.
As you strive to become a leader, don't forget you can still be a leader on gender equality now by supporting the Women's Employee Resource Group, becoming a mentor, participating in local networking opportunities, and always being an advocate for inclusivity and equity.
Words of wisdom
Here's what we've learned from our leaders:
- "We have a very strong employee resource group network, and I think those are another great opportunity to leverage a group of people …who have likely very similar ideals and values and desire to create change." – Kimberly Kinsley, vice president and general manager of airframe and global engine components, Power & Controls, Collins Aerospace
- "I needed to take responsibility for growth, for taking risks, for putting myself in uncomfortable positions and reaching in and finding that confidence in who I am." – Bridget Sheriff, vice president of engineering & technology, Interiors, Collins Aerospace
- "Hold yourself to that standard of excellence so when people did question you, you would show them I do belong at this table. I am confident in this subject matter and I'm here and I have a voice." – Elaine Bitonti, vice president of business development, Mission Systems, Collins Aerospace
- "Don't be apologetic about being a diverse part of the conversation. Be comfortable in yourself and know that you bring a very valuable perspective to the conversation and do so with confidence."– Alison Davidson, vice president of aftermarket, Mechanical Systems, Collins Aerospace
Thriving in diversity
As we celebrate our women leaders, we are proud of all the women changemakers that lead the industry. Together, we can all help create an inclusive world.
To show your support for a more inclusive and equitable world, strike the Choose To Challenge pose, (right hand raised) and share it on social media using the hashtags #ChooseToChallenge and #IWD2021, encouraging others to choose to challenge today and every day.