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   Vol. 17 No. 64
Sunday September 30, 2018

Toward A Perfect Blendship At AA Cargo

Jessica Tyler

School is back in session, but for Jessica Tyler change is in the air as newly named American Airlines Vice President, Strategy and Development.

IBS Partnership Heats Up

     “We officially announced our partnership with IBS in January of this year and have been hard at work completing the first major phase of work, designing our future business processes that are enabled by the iCargo solution.
     “We are now working on the detailed plan to support our teams and customers through this transition over time.
     “The devil is in the details and let’s just say we’re in the ‘hot’ part of the project.”

Sharing Expertise & Finding A New Road

     “We are excited to join an incredible community of IBS customers.
     “This community is helping us learn and that’s a big part of why we chose IBS. Many of these airlines have been gracious enough to spend time with our implementation team to share their successes and challenges. Our team also just returned from one of the IBS customer forums a few weeks ago, where I got a better glimpse at the collaboration across carriers and IBS to continue to push the industry forward.
     “What makes our partnership different is that AA Cargo is one of a handful of carriers that leverages all of iCargo’s various modules, implementing a true end-to-end platform from booking to accounting and everything in between.
     “We are also the first major North American airline to join IBS’s customer group, which is a very unique aspect to our relationship.”

The Pride of Place

     “I love supporting the teams that are driving culture and transformational efforts within our business.
     “So while my title seems a bit fancy, it means that my team gets to think about and implement ways to support our people (no, I’m not HR) and how we move our business forward every single day.
Angela Hudson      “I have four areas of responsibility: the overall success of this effort to modernize our processes and systems, a project management office that supports all other strategic initiatives, engagement and recognition efforts, and regulatory compliance.
     “Just this week, Angela Hudson (right)—the manager of team and customer readiness for this major effort—and the broader project team executed an incredible day with more than 100 frontline team members, whom we call Captains, who will start engaging and involving our team members from Operations, Sales, Customer Experience, Accounting, Revenue Management, and all our vendor partners across the globe.
     “These folks came from all over the globe and will begin engaging with the project team to ensure a successful effort.
     “I can’t tell you how proud I am to work with such passionate, experienced, talented people.
     “I feel lucky.”

A Perfect Blendship

     “At AA Cargo there are team members working to ensure regulatory compliance in our global cargo operations, and that requires constant coordination and partnership with station leadership, regulators, and our internal safety and security teams.
     “Julia Ford, Manager of Regulatory Compliance on our team, leads a group of incredible auditors that travel around making sure we run a safe and compliant operation.
Kelly Shoaf  Debbie Edwards   “Kelly Shoaf, (left) Manager of Strategic Projects, and her team work to project manage several key initiatives throughout the division, from station moves to improvements to our website, to supporting our alliances team.
     “Then I have Debbie Edwards, (right) who leads all of our efforts to ensure we recognize and engage our global team. She helps support our leaders and most recently is working to support American Voice, our company’s internal team member feedback mechanism. With her help, we work to equip our leaders to make meaningful change that improves teamwork and engagement across our teams. She also leads all of our division’s recognition programs, like our Cargo Champions program. Like I said, we have our hands in just about everything the broader Cargo team is working on—great meaningful work!”

The New Incredibles!

     “I think our customers and the industry know that we have an incredible team. What excites me most is what this team will accomplish with modern tools. Today, our award-winning team delivers outstanding service with one hand tied behind our back. And, that’s pretty incredible!
     “Imagine what we’ll be capable of together, when we have better tools, better insights, and an IT landscape that enables our ability to shift quickly.”

Dean KnightLessons Dean Knight Taught Us

     “The integration (USAir into American Airlines) was an incredible experience for our team.
     “Mostly, I learned that talented, passionate people can do just about anything when we work together.
     “We were the first major division to merge in the airline—that’s a huge accomplishment within itself.
     “Dean Knight, who is our program manager for our current technology project, taught us all how to work within and develop these incredibly complex programs.
     “He was recruited by other divisions at American to go help other teams manage their integration efforts and now he’s back to help us again (we are lucky!).”

Never Lose Money Underestimating Change

     “We certainly created some best practices for others to use, but we also created a lot of lessons learned that others benefited from as well.
     “One of which is don’t underestimate change. “What seems like a minor change on paper can be a major change for the human being experiencing it.”

The Paperwork Jungle

Julia Ford      “Julia Ford, (left) as I mentioned earlier, leads our regulatory compliance team. When I first started supporting this group, I’d been around a bit so I understood the amount of paper in our process, or so I thought. When you follow an auditor around, you see paper that supports the paper and we make an extra copy of that paper so that we can keep that on file.
     “You also see the files of paper that we have to keep around to show we follow policy and regulations.
     “I think if we can leverage technology more in this industry, it not only helps the environment and makes it easy to share and leverage information, I think we actually make this industry even safer than it is today (and it’s already safe!).
     “We could repurpose the human energy put into checking all the paper, to let humans do what they do best—share and learn from each other.
     “We should be putting our energy into teaching and supporting the teams that have to execute on the complex policies and regulations that we have in this industry.
     “Julia’s team tries really hard to take a teaching approach to auditing.
     “The people on our audit team are some of the best educators I’ve ever been around and with paperless processes and things like IATA’s One Record initiative, we can transform what our team’s energy goes toward.”

About Jessica

     “Honestly, my ‘look to’ role models are my parents. I admire the incredible sacrifices they made along the way to raise four children.
     “They owned a small business for 40 years and the work ethic, the constant reinventing of their business to stay competitive, the way they merged work and life, and the importance they put on education, are all things I try to emulate as a mom and a leader that supports super-talented people every day at work.
     “Time off is mostly spent traveling to lacrosse tournaments all over North America or vacationing in Maine, Florida, or Colorado, our favorite spots to be with extended family or the great outdoors.
     “While I’ve done quite a bit of international travel in my lifetime, we aren’t quite ready to take all three boys on that journey.
     “We are very close; the youngest is seven and is becoming a very seasoned domestic traveler, so I see international family travel in our very near future and I can’t wait to expose them to the people and cultures that make up this great planet.
     “I would whole-heartedly recommend an airline career to others.
     “The dynamic nature of the business, the incredible mission to connect people and the goods that fuel life is great, meaningful work.
     “You can have five different careers within a career at an airline our size.
     “Whether you are into revenue management, operations, leading and supporting teams, charitable efforts, logistics and supply chain—you name a talent or interest and there is a job within the airline that would allow you to shine and learn.
     “My favorite city is probably Mere Point, ME. I like it mostly because of the poor cell service.
     “My in-laws have a cottage right on the water, with no TV, no internet, and the sounds of the water always in the background.
     “My kids love collecting sea treasures—claws and sea glass are top finds—and we spend a ton of time water skiing and picnicking on the tiny islands off the coast.
     “Exploring the outdoors is probably our favorite family activity—throwing rocks in a river, biking or hiking on a trail, paddle boarding, etc.—anything that’s outside and new is cool.
     “The last book I read was a Jack Reacher novel. I’ve read so many leadership books over the years that sometimes when I have time to read, I want some action-packed mystery to engage my brain in a different way.”

Tyler Family

A Matter of Balance

     “Balance is a weird word,” Jessica smiles.
     “It’s kind of a myth if you ask me.
     “When you get to do what you love every day, work and life merge. I look at my day holistically—what can I do to support my work family and my real family today?
     “How can I divide my hours to give my all to both?
     “Not necessarily at the same time mind you. I don’t see work as nine to five, I see about 16-17 hours that can be divided up to give attention where it needs to be.
     “When it’s dinner time, it’s dinner time and I’m fully present.
     “When I’m working on something with our team, I do my best to be fully present.
     “Managing my calendar is critical to my ability to do that well.
     “I also have a very supportive partner who about a year ago gave up his career to be completely focused on our three sons.
     “That has helped tremendously as we coordinate our crazy schedules with lacrosse, swim team, school, work and business travel, etc.”

Jessica Tyler

Diversity & Women in Air Cargo

     “I don’t love generalizing about any ‘group’ of people.
     “To say ‘women are talented at X’ is weird to me.
     “I get that men are from Mars and women are from Venus (remember that book!?) and that there are some real differences—believe me, I live with three sons, a male spouse, and a male dog, so I get it.
     “To me, diversity is about variation of thought, perspective, experiences, talent, etc. and it’s really hard to fully get that without a lot of different ‘groups’ represented.
     “It’s about coverage, not numbers.
     “One of my very first large integration meetings at American was a gathering of all the various leads from different divisions, maybe 75 people in all.
     “There were very few women and very few people under the age of 50.
     “Those were the ‘groups’ I could visually see underrepresented, but I’m sure there were other diverse experiences we were missing and I’m sure there were other diverse talent/experiences that were present that I couldn’t see with my eyes.
     “I typically don’t notice things like that, but it was so evident it was hard to miss.
     ‘That was about five years ago and I’m happy to say that a short five years later, we are way more focused than ever on the diversity needed to make this great company even stronger.
     “When you barely hire for a decade, bringing in diverse talent just doesn’t happen, but with time, we are making progress in this area.
     “Today, I have the pleasure of serving as a steering committee member for our International Development Program—it’s a focused program meant to identify and develop frontline team members with the potential to lead.
     “It includes men and women, young and tenured, with all kinds of backgrounds.
     “Programs like this help us develop from within and when coupled with a talent and diversity-focused hiring approach, we are making great progress.”

AA Teams
Counting Blessings Instead of Sheep

     “Our project and the people involved are what I think about as I fall asleep and it’s first on my mind in the morning.
     “Every single day our team is working to ensure that not only do we have a smooth technology transition, which is complex enough to cause stress and angst, but most importantly, that our team and customers are ready when they need to be.
     “Taking care of our team and involving everyone along the way so that we all own this transformation is an every day priority.”

The Importance of Training

Summer Reruns     “Training is critical. But training alone won’t help get our teams ready.
     “You can execute your training plan ‘perfectly’ and still fail in a huge effort like this. Being thoughtful about managing change one human being at a time is how our team and customer readiness group is thinking about this effort. We are spending as much time and money on the change efforts related to this project as we are on the technology efforts, and have partnered with a niche firm, Emerson Human Capital, that focuses solely on these technology transformations that are won or lost on the culture front.”

Why The Math Matters

     “I love math, but not in the way that most math nerds love math.
     “I love a good debate around chaos theory. I believe that order is possible in the midst of mayhem.
     “I honestly think a mathematical mind is what keeps me calm in the midst of craziness.
     “I don’t love spreadsheets or modeling or any of that, what I love about math concepts is that no matter the challenge if you work creatively enough, you’ll find a fit—a model, a structure, or a framework. It might not be perfect, but it might just get you there- you’ll see the order out of what was once clutter.
     “All life and work challenges are that same way.
     “There is always a way, no matter the challenge.
     “I don’t use all of the upper-level math I learned, but I definitely use the concepts all the time.
     “I think of culture like a network (and not in the airline sense of the term).
     “I’ve always thought of leaders as the nodes in a network.
     “Formal and informal leaders are the hubs of care, influence, and information. They are the connectors. Just like we think about ways to optimize our hubs as an airline, I think about how we equip and support the critical nodes of the people network. If they aren’t supported and ready, the network of people falls apart.
     “If you support those critical connectors—the people hubs of the network—the right way, anything is possible.”

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
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