GE Aviation Edison Works, Director Technical Products: Never Worry About Being the Only Girl in the Room

GE Aviation Edison Works, Director Technical Products: Never Worry About Being the Only Girl in the Room

Jill Campbell, Director Technical Products, GE Aviation Edison Works, talks to Catherine Bushong, Director, Strategic Accounts and Partnership Engagement, Vernovis, about continuously progressing through her career as a woman. Especially as she began her career journey as a help desk technician and has now reached a leadership position. 

Campbell feels she has reached her level of success the moment she declared that every profile that reports to her has been accomplished by herself before. She shares that she started as a help desk, taking calls and getting beat up, and learning technology. 

Sharing further about her out-of-college time. She said she was handed just a pair of crimpers and ordered, "good luck, figure it out." So she did the same, and it was again that drive to figure out the pieces and understand how things work that helped her a lot. She is the daughter of an aerospace and electrical engineer. She shares that she had almost no choice because that's how she was raised.

It was always; she had to be self-sufficient, needed to figure it out, needed to stand on her own, and needed to understand the pieces behind there. So while her career was growing from a help desk to her first manager role at Reynolds and Reynolds, she was torn between the fact that she wanted to be hands-on and work with people. So she tried to work with smart people, learn more, and help them be successful and organized in the IT space. So as she was working, progressing through Reynolds and Reynolds, and then, she landed up in Cintas, and that's where her leadership was starting to come out more and more than her technical expertise.

She explains during the late nineties, one had to make choices. It was either you to become an architect or a subject matter expert in a specific field like storage and networking, servers, data, or all the infrastructure. So she started to gravitate to helping provide the organizational structure and helping to provide guidance and vernacular that came up the other day, removing the logs jammed in front of these guys.

So as a woman, it was pleasant that she had to make a choice. So she started moving towards leadership roles, and while she could still have the technical acumen. So she would kick off the heels, and she would cable with them, or she would tear up a server or whatever, or stay on the phone for hours and hours through an incident call, and her roles started aligning with more leadership.

So she said she would spend some time at an adventive, a spin-off of fifth, third right now, which is WorldPay, and that was where she had the most significant and most comprehensive area of responsibility. So there were 300 people under her, but she could communicate with the team technically. And also, she would take the time to speak basic things like show me or help me understand. So she can talk to other leaders and share what is going on. So she became that type of leader who could hang with the text and communicate with the engineers. But then turn around and have a conversation about why we need to spend this amount of money, or this is why we need to invest, or this is why we have to mitigate this type of risk. But unfortunately, she has also had the flip side of downsizing in her career.

She has two gaps of over a year of being unemployed, and that's hard when you're in a leadership role and progressing up, especially as a woman. So she has worked in this space and created an Opportunity during those breaks to find consulting in the background and help other people, which led to networking into the next role.

She shares that Vantive was an excellent experience to learn about leadership, outsourcing, and other things. At Trimble navigation, she got international and global responsibility. However, she terms it a humility exercise as she learned about different cultures and how people behave differently. Even though technology remained a common ground or the common language, there were a lot of other forms like how teams worked, etc., which really stretched her leadership goals. 

Those years taught her a lot about listening and understanding, and it is essential to hear a different perspective, and it's not only about technology. She thinks this role added to her career. She worked in another small bank locally, which extended an opportunity to be a CIO level with Heidelberg Distributing. 

When she joined Heidelberg Distributing, she shared that it was still in 1990 technology-wise. But nevertheless, they could work with teams and the leadership and help them understand the difference between a business organization and an IT project. She made them understand knick and knacks like they need to know how they want to work as a business, and she, as an IT leader, will put in whatever solution they need. That's what her focus has been and the niche as well. She has worked in different industries, and her expertise is in technology. 

She shares how mentors made her move towards operations and product lifecycle management and even in the military space to use all that she has learned in her previous career.

Jill shares that the male-to-female ratio is getting smaller within the infrastructure space and how she always tries to encourage other women to partner and come into the IT field. Her advice for women professionals is to stay strong, not doubt themselves, believe in what they have learned, continue to learn, and ask questions. 

She thinks it is more than time to say it's alright to be in this field and not to be afraid. There are many opportunities as there are a million infrastructure jobs, and if we, as women, are not looking at that as an opportunity, we're selling ourselves short. She thinks the best thing in the professional world is studying, learning, and asking questions. Never worry about being the only girl in the room, even though she counts every time she goes in. She stresses finding the comradery in another woman and thinks that as women support each other, she can see the numbers growing. It's slow, but it's growing. 

She thinks that the women bring a different perspective. We are all working together to support each other in many different ways, help a team excel in many different ways, and have a different perspective. Diversity is important.

Related Stories

No stories found.
CDO Magazine