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JAELYNN WILLIAMS OPENS UP ABOUT BEING A WOMAN OF THE C-SUITE

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To kick off Women’s History Month, Air Methods CEO JaeLynn Williams recently participated in a virtual panel discussion from Barclays’ gender network’s Power Hour series, Leading Voices: Perspectives from the Female C-suite.

Williams stood alongside Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture, and Betsy Ward, CFO of MassMutual, and focused on the themes of leadership, diversity and inclusion, career development and the future of our working world. The discussion was facilitated by Barclays Global Head of Banking, and Co-President of Barclays Bank BBPLC, Paul Compton.

Highlights from the discussion included these thoughts and insights from JaeLynn:

On Leadership

I had an epiphany early in my career when I noticed my colleagues were applying for roles they were underqualified for–while I waited in the wings to gain the knowledge and become the expert. I knew I needed to look at my skills and what I brought to table, and have the confidence to ask for more. I reflected on my experience putting myself through college and the tough times that came with that. It made me realize I could solve problems and make things happen. I started reaching out and from that point, to where I stand now as CEO, I believe every role I have taken has been an opportunity to expand, and to know I have the confidence in myself to do it. While it hasn’t always been a slam dunk every time, I believe I can achieve whatever I set my mind to—and it’s worked out for me so far!

You must start believing in yourself. Reach out and find opportunity to grow your career and expertise. This was a great tool for me and a very defining idea that has informed all my professional decisions.

On Reacting to COVID-19

To be successful in a leadership position, start with your mission and values. At Air Methods, we are committed to serving the people in rural communities–which means transporting COVID-19 patients to receive treatment. We then look at every situation and make decisions through the lens of our core values. In the case of COVID-19, we looked at what we could control and worked swiftly with our PPE suppliers to ensure we could safely transport patients while protecting our crews.

Moving forward with a year of COVID-19 under our belt, we have defined criteria to measure against and look at what we did well and what we can do better. We kept all our crews safe and nobody contracted COVID-19 from transporting suspected COVID-19 patients and we were able to keep all our bases open—these were huge wins in our book.

On Diversity

In the aviation space, one of the challenges we face is a lack of diversity in our pool of employees. To combat this, we have focused on building a program that is not a flavor-of-the-month (not something you try on because it’s in the news). It comes down to cultivating a culture that promotes diversity and we have incorporated this into leadership attributes that define how we work on all levels.