Gina Emrich, senior manager, customer experience and accessibility for American Airlines, spends her time focusing on the customer experience strategy for passengers who travel with any type of disability. Speaking to Reed Exhibitions for a series of articles celebrating women in aviation, here she reveals what she loves most about the industry.
I’ve been working in aviation since 1987 when I joined American Airlines. My dad is a pilot and I got my private pilot’s license when I was in college. American Airlines was recruiting on my campus and a friend signed me up to interview because he knew I loved aviation.
I love the opportunity aviation gives us to bring people together’ connecting them and doing things to make their experience better. Every day is different, everything that happens in the world affects the aviation industry.
As a woman in this industry it can be difficult to find fellow women leaders who have multiple children and juggle both their family and their career so the challenge has been finding that community and building more support in the workplace for balancing those priorities. On and off through the years, I’ve seen peers and leaders who don’t always respect women. However, most typically improve their attitude if you are confident and capable.
The most important thing is to have a balanced set of leaders who bring diverse viewpoints to decision making and company direction. If there are not enough women in senior leadership positions who are managing families, decisions can be one dimensional’ focusing only on the operation or financial success and not enough on the wellbeing of employees or the experience of our customers.
The benefit of having women in leadership positions is that we bring a very different perspective than men so more balanced decisions can be made. I feel like I’ve been able to have an impact on the company by building tools for our employees and products for our customers that they need and want. I also focus time and energy on my team so that they are developed and fulfilled at work, which improves their quality of life. You need flexibility and humility.
My favourite part of my career is the positive impact I’ve had on the people on my team. Developing skills, mentoring, and supporting people in their career, which in turn supports them in their personal life, is very rewarding. My advice is always: Whatever you do, do it well.
During my time in the industry, technology has made both the employee and the customer experience so much better’ electronic ticketing and boarding passes, online booking, and mobile apps are some examples. But I would still like to see a greater focus on the customer, particularly on those who travel with a disability. Improve the experience for them and you’ll improve it for everyone.