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Driving leadership Michelle Burrell, Commercial Manager on the importance of attracting and promoting women to leadership positions.

Category: Women in Leadership, Women’s network, inspirational women, Top woman

Gender Focus

Michelle Burrell works as Commercial Manager and is a valuable part of the Business Aviation Commercial Team in Reston, USA. Just recently she was invited to speak at the IAWA (International Aviation Women’s Association) General Aviation Women’s Leadership Forum about the importance of women in leadership positions. We met Michelle to talk about how women can create opportunities to enter leadership roles and how Michelle developed in her career at Rolls-Royce.

How important do you feel it is to attract women to leadership positions within the Aviation industry and why?

It is very important to attract and promote women in this industry because it adds a different dynamic to the team. Younger generations of women are not holding back on making their mark in the workforce as well as entering careers that, at one time, were specifically seen as a man’s job. This industry needs to take advantage of that and make the environment diverse and inclusive to get the best women leaders excited about working in aviation.

 Tell us about your role with the IAWA General Aviation Women’s Leadership Forum & how this group has contributed to your skills and career?

I became a member of IAWA a little over a year ago. This was the second time I was part of the panel, and this time we spoke about ‘Leading Today and in the Future’. We specifically talked about the different generations in the workforce and how we can work together for a common goal. How we can be inclusive and respect each other? We discussed the different ways we can help women coming into the industry by mentoring and sponsoring. IAWA has expanded my network of professional women in this industry and provides a lot of good information on personal growth.

 What advice would you give to women that are looking to develop their leadership skills?

I would advise them to first have a mentor that can guide them through their current career path and help them understand the career opportunities at Rolls-Royce. Then, to take it further and find a sponsor who can become your advocate and invest in your career 100%. I would also advise them to immerse themselves in the industry by joining some of the associations, attending forums and by participating in outside events pertaining to the industry, which in turn will help them develop their leadership and networking skills.

 What experiences within your career-best contributed to your own leadership development?

I have been very fortunate to have had great mentors and advisors throughout my career at Rolls-Royce who helped to guide me. They informed me of the best job placements that they felt I was suitable for, but most importantly I had a sponsor who publicly advocated me and gave me a seat at the table. He supported my growth and set the tone for how I could grow my role within Business Aviation. It gave me a different perspective on my role, improved my leadership skills and opened my mind to other possibilities within Rolls-Royce.


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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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