July 25, 2024

Viasat host AIX Women in Aviation panel

Viasat hosted a Women in Aviation panel discussion on May 29 at the 2024 Airport Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany. Female leaders from the aviation industry were on the panel for the future-focused discussion featured .

Michelle Munoz-Talcott, Senior Director – Marketing, Aviation and Energy at Viasat, moderated the discussion. Mariya Stoyinova, formerly of JetBlue and a member of the Crystal Cabin Awards jury participated, as did Julieta McCurry, Vice President of In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity Strategy at Delta Air Lines, and Helga Huld Bjarnadóttir, Director Product and Service Management at Icelandair.

They discussed key topics shaping business strategies, notable challenges and technological developments which are changing aviation.

“Never stop growing, and find new ways to grow. There’s ways to grow in everything. Failures and missteps are the best lessons. When you get comfortable, question if you’re too comfortable,” said Stoyinova during the discussion when asked for advice for people starting out in the aviation industry.

McCurry added that is important to follow opportunity: “You need to say yes to more things than no and to trust your gut. If you see something you really like, be it a project or a role, raise your hand. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.”

Bjarnadóttir added: “Opportunities are everywhere, never stop looking for them. Most of the opportunities in my career would not have come unless I raised my hand, made myself visible, and had others bringing me along the way. Find the people who match you and who match your passion and growth.”

Effective leadership

McCurry presented the viewpoint that to be effective as a leader, it is necessary to build a great team of talented individuals who complement both the leader’s skills and each other’s. She added that authenticity is important and that competence is not enough, especially when working on things that are innovation-driven or new.

Stoyinova commented: “This industry is not for the weak of heart. Persistence is so important. We often hear, ‘No that can’t be done’ but in my vocabulary, ‘no’ means ‘find another way to do it’. No should not stop you, ever. We need to break through a lot of walls and build things quicker.”

Supporting women in aviation

Bjarnadóttir said: “Having more females on board gives you more teamwork, more views on things and more ways of doing things. It’s not just about females but all genders. To have this diversity benefits us in all aspects of decision making and innovation.”

She discussed how parental leave varies between countries but is vital for people of all genders who want to start families to have the opportunity to leave and come back without it having an effect on their career development. “Companies also need to have thorough plans on training, mentorship, development programmes and more for women,” she suggested.

Stoyinova added: “We all bring something different to the table, not just for gender equality but for diversity of thought. Everybody is so unique and brings a unique perspective, which prevents tunnel vision. Diversity of thought is critical. That said, women bring a different type of skillset – we’re just built differently.”

Technology in aviation

She added that every moment of the travel journey is an opportunity for brand building. “Technology is helping to engage customers but also to reduce friction. It’s that combination of the human aspect and technology. I’m looking forward to us infusing technology more and more in the travel journey, while also increasing hospitality and the human touch.”

On the impact of technology, McCurry added: “It’s all about experience. We have an ambition to become not just a loved brand but an experience brand – and technology plays a big role in that, in the inflight experience especially. Customers are pushing us to think about loyalty differently. They’re seeing membership experiences as another benefit to loyalty. In addition to the core benefits of miles and status, they are leaning into in-the-moment experiences like fast, free Wi-Fi and Delta Sync.”

aircraftinteriorsexpo.com ; viasat.com