August 20, 2012
Credit: Credit: Rockwell Collins
Carole Hedden Washington
When Wanda Austin and Clay Jones talk about the organizations they lead, they are focused on investing in innovation.
Austin, at the helm of The Aerospace Corp., has a simple formula. “We are about reducing the cost of space systems, not just lighter-weight materials or how to squeeze every inch of space out of every payload bay, but also how we integrate the data we collect and deliver it to our users,” she explains.
Jones's perspective at Rockwell Collins is similar. He says the future is about size, weight and power. “Electronics lends itself to this,” he notes. “Less fuel, less material, less weight, extending power in terms of battery life and throughput. That's our mantra.”
This clarity of vision is what the two organizations have in common and what has landed them at the top of the rankings in Aviation Week's 2012 Workforce Study category of Where A&D Professionals Want To Work.
Based on data gathered for the Workforce Study, the rankings represent an index across three areas: technological challenge, professional development/learning, and respect for/valuing the individual. These are the areas employees in the industry indicate are most important to them as they make career decisions. Readers, AviationWeek.com visitors and respondents to our Young Professionals Survey rank “ability to contribute ideas and solutions” as the No. 1 return on their work effort.
For Austin, the link between the three areas is basic business and resonates with the federally funded research center's values: dedication to mission success; technical excellence; commitment to our people; objectivity; and integrity. The objectivity value—basing decisions and conversations on fact rather than emotion or hype—links directly to technical excellence, ongoing learning and respect. Regardless of rank or degree, the measure of a person at Aerospace Corp. is the value and content he/she adds to a conversation.
Similarly, Austin relates professional development to the business. Employees must stay aligned with the customer, remain in sync with the customers' toughest problems and assure that “what we do is not redundant.” To ensure its staff can offer this value to the customer, Aerospace Corp. must provide opportunities to learn so that each worker is able to “recast their knowledge and experience to where the customer is going,” Austin says.