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Andrea Birdsall

Business

Senior Manager, Engineering at Safran Electronics & Defense Avionics

How long have you been working at Safran?

I started with the company back in November 2006. [Note: Safran Electronics & Defense Avionics' EMS division was acquired from Collins Aerospace in 2019.]

What are you passionate about?

I am most passionate about people. Meeting new people and getting to know them is what drives me. It doesn't matter if they're a connection through work or a social function, young or old, female or male. I never turn down an opportunity to learn from others. 

Why do you think it is important to celebrate Women's History Month?

It is important to celebrate Women's History Month so that we remember all those that came before to pave the way. It's a yearly reminder to keep fighting for equality and advancement of women. There are still challenges today, but we can show the younger generations that the possibilities are limitless if you put your mind to it.

Have you been inspired by any women in your life? Please name them and briefly describe how they have impacted you.

I have been fortunate to have many amazing women help me throughout my career, the first of which was my mom, Michelle. She taught me to push through when things were tough. She taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. She taught me to reach for that next opportunity.  I will always be grateful to her for instilling in me my core values. The second most influential woman in my life was a mentor of mine. At the time, Alice was the only female upper-level leader at my site. I looked at her and wanted what she had so I absorbed everything I could over the course of our relationship. I learned many things, but the most valuable thing was to advocate for myself, how to go after a new position instead of waiting for someone to approach me. 

What is your proudest professional moment?

My proudest professional moment came early into my career. I was onsite to watch the launch of a satellite I had worked on. The moment that I realized something I helped build was being rocketed into space was pretty amazing.

What are your three tips for young women starting out in the industry?

I have learned many things since starting my career. The three things that have benefited me the most are: 

  1. Take a seat at the table. I've seen it over and over. A woman walks into a conference room, heads straight to the chairs along the walls of the room and takes a seat. There is no reason not to sit at the table and in fact, you deserve to be at the table. You are more likely to be noticed and taken seriously if you're at the table with everyone else. 
  2. Take risks. This has many meanings to me: ask for that promotion, take a different position, volunteer for the next project. Have confidence in yourself. Just because you don't possess all of the skills today, trust that you will find a way to overcome that gap. 
  3. Embrace differences. Recognize the benefits of diversity. We all bring something to the table that is unique. We can't all be the same because how boring would that be? When your team is filled with people from many backgrounds and experience levels, creativity will flow. 
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