MROs Must Take Action On Sustainability And Workforce Diversity

Tiara Atwater of GE speaking to the diversity org students

Tiara Atwater of GE speaks to The Diversity Org students during MRO Americas.

Credit: Lindsay Bjerregaard/AW&ST

When faced with a big project or daunting task, breaking it down into steps makes it more manageable and establishes where to start.

When thinking about big challenges our industry faces—reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (that can seem a long way off, right?) and diversifying our workforce—taking this approach can be helpful. Neither of these will happen without doing things differently, and neither will happen without taking action now.

At MRO Americas, Aviation Week and our parent company Informa partnered with The Diversity Org to bring underrepresented and minority students from Atlanta to the event to introduce them to careers in the aviation aftermarket.

Derrick Siebert of Lufthansa Technik speaks to students
Derrick Siebert of Lufthansa Technik spoke to local Atlanta students around the CFM Leap engine Lufthansa Technik built out of Legos, on display at MRO Americas. Credit: Lee Ann Shay/AW&ST

Students pursing a variety of majors—including psychology, finance and engineering—from two HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in Atlanta, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, toured the MRO Americas exhibition and met with five companies. Each of the companies—AAR, Boeing, GE, Delta TechOps and Lufthansa Technik—did a great job explaining opportunities in the aftermarket and answering students’ questions. I learned a lot from their questions and the company executives’ answers.

Boeing Chief Mechanic Jennifer Radtke talks to students
Boeing Chief Mechanic Jennifer Radtke talks to students about being the minority in a workplace and shares advice on how to thrive during MRO Americas. Credit: Lee Ann Shay/AW&ST

After the tour, Diversity Org and Aviation Week hosted a panel and lunch with executives from AAR, AirExpert, FEAM and STS Services.

Talking with the students and listening to their questions was a highlight of MRO Americas for me. They inspired me, and thankfully, we inspired them.

A survey conducted by Diversity Org after the event appears to confirm this:

  • 100% of surveyed students said the event with The Diversity Org, Informa Markets and the exhibitors motivated them to perform better academically based on their understanding of the companies they could work for.
  • 100% of surveyed students said that this workshop taught them about careers they didn’t know about before.
  • 100% of surveyed students said this workshop motivated them to think more seriously about their career options.
  • 100% of surveyed students stated this workshop motivated them to build connections and network with professionals.

In addition to this solid feedback, a few students added these positive comments:

  • “I enjoyed the motivational gems and opportunities discussed during this event.”
  • “The panelists gave really good information about their companies and what they look for in employees.”
  • “I loved the information that was provided and the advice about networking.”

The event was a positive step toward change. It also helped a Morehouse College student, who was not previously aware of financial roles in the aviation industry, to find an internship with one of the companies within a matter of days.

That’s a measurable result and one that hopefully will reoccur frequently.

“The problem with doing nothing is not knowing when you’re finished,” states my quote-of-the-day calendar for today.

Let’s all take steps in the right direction, and that includes addressing sustainability, too.

Lee Ann Shay

As executive editor of MRO and business aviation, Lee Ann Shay directs Aviation Week's coverage of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), including Inside MRO, and business aviation, including BCA.