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Safran USA: Employee Spotlight

Human resources

June 22, 2018

Sarah Grabinski, Director of Engineering, Zodiac Cabin Interior Solutions

In recognition of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day, Safran USA is spotlighting Sarah Grabinski. Holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, Grabinski works for Zodiac Aerospace, which joined the Safran businesses earlier this year.

Safran USA also is introducing the Women@Safran network, an employee-led resource group for women that will serve as an opportunity to share experiences, success stories, and resources. Women@Safran is open to all women in the company and will feature events with guest speakers and communications on a variety of topics chosen by its members.

Who: Sarah Grabinski, the director of engineering for Zodiac’s Cabin Interior Solutions division.

What: Grabinski oversees the engineering activity for Zodiac’s Integrated Interior programs, which has responsibility for the Airbus/Bombardier C Series, Embraer E2, and Irkut MC-21 jetliners, among others. She works with a group of technical experts and managers that make up the division’s core engineering team.

Where: Huntington Beach, California.

Why did you become an engineer? “I liked math and science and wanted to be able to apply them in practical ways. I knew I wanted to work in an industry where I would be close to both the development and delivery of a product to its end user.”

What has your career path looked like? “I would say that my career path within Zodiac has not been traditional. Upon joining the company in 1997, I worked as an engineer in the materials and process division on flammability and certification for approximately eight years, then moved into engineering management. Since then, I have worked with several engineering teams during critical start-up or growth periods. This includes sites in Montreal, Canada for business jets; Marysville, Washington for the Boeing 787; and Santa Maria, California for seat shells. Each of those experiences taught me something new and prepared me for my next challenge. In my current role, I work across multiple sites, programs, and engineering teams, often referencing those previous experiences to bring the right people together to solve a problem.”

What are some hurdles you’ve encountered in your career? “In addition to the multiple relocations, the biggest hurdle during my career was when I left the engineering division for an assignment in product support. I faced many new issues and problems outside of my comfort zone, and what I learned during that year has proven to be extremely valuable: I have a much better understanding of what our customers and operators face on a daily basis, and how decisions that we make during the very early development process have a significant impact after the delivery of our product.”

What has been your proudest professional moment? “After 21 years, it's difficult to select just one, but I am particularly proud when I see an engineer who I mentored finding success in his or her career.”

What motivates you? “Taking on new challenges, changes, and working with a strong team. I truly believe that with the right people working as a team, we can overcome any challenge. Strong tools and processes are important, but I am motivated by the people with whom I interact every day.”

What does Safran bring to Zodiac after the acquisition? “Both companies bring valuable people and skills to the Group, and this means we can only get stronger overall. So far, my impression is that the Safran organization is here to support not only the business and our customers, but also the employees. I really look forward to being a part of the successes ahead of us.”

What advice would you give young women considering a career in engineering? “Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that come your way, even if you may not think you're 100 percent prepared for it. Have confidence in what you do know, draw on your experiences, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Keeping an open mind and asking questions shows that you're willing to learn and therefore you will always have people around you that will support you. You don't always have to have all of the answers – however, you do need to be ready to make decisions in any engineering position.”