We Are Honeywell Aerospace: Esther Massimini

August 17, 2018 | Author: Aerospace Communications

Esther Massimini’s corner cubicle at Honeywell’s Deer Valley campus is sort of like a science fiction version of a neighborhood barber shop.

“She’s the queen networker,” says Esther’s co-worker of eight years Cherise Stevens.

Esther has been at work for about two or three minutes and already she’s surrounded by fellow engineers.  In her 30 years at Honeywell, Esther has earned the attention.

“She's multi-faceted, she knows a great deal, she's energized when it comes to her work,” says Esther’s manager Rod Robertson. “If you ask her to go dig into something, you'll know about it later today.”

“If you know Esther, you can get all of your work done,” co-worker Gordon Golding adds.

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The discussions are mostly about work, but there’s a twist.

“We’re all into Star Trek,” says Cherise Stevens. “But Esther is on another level. For instance, she’ll pitch ideas by tying them into a Star Trek episode.”

Esther smiles as if she knows there are many more Star Trek onion layers to peel away throughout the day.

“Oh...and she also named her children after Star Trek characters,” adds Cherise.

Esther makes no apologies for her Picard passion and Kirk compulsion.

“I'm a classical music, Star Trek nerd, and I'm really into world building and societies and the way societies can be changed,” Esther states proudly.

EM1 This Deer Valley team’s job is all about creating ways to help make engineers faster and more productive. They do that by coming up with consistent, stable processes.

Esther puts it in Star Trek terms because that’s what she does. “If there’s an anomaly in the path, we think of a way to correct the course.”

“You can talk almost any subject with her, and you'll find out that she's had some level of expertise in it,” says Rod. “It's amazing. All you have to do is spend some time with her, and you'll realize just how diverse she is.”

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Esther grew up in Germany,  the oldest of seven very closely-spaced children. She says that was the springboard to her appreciation for diversity.

“There are seven years between me and my youngest brother. I had  a lot of responsibility early,” Esther recounts. “I grew up on a French army base in Germany, and I went to Canadian Air Force base school. And so I learned three languages, and if you count French Canadian really four. I was always used to switching and looking at different cultural things and being very open minded. Our friends were a mix of all three countries and quite diverse because of the many Vietnamese and North Africans in the French Army.”

When she discovered Star Trek at an early age, she discovered  the realization that she could boldly go where very few woman had gone before.

“I think the main experience was seeing Nichelle Nichols as Uhura on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise,” Esther says. “She is African American and a woman cast as someone able to do things that were officer-type things or military-type things with the men. And being part of the team. In a role different to what may have been expected, she was this other character.”

So Esther joined the Air Force because of Nichelle’s inspiration and eventually became a Captain. In fact, she played an integral part in the historic Iran hostage rescue attempt, calculating flight trajectories of support aircraft in surrounding countries.

“After being a part of something like that, everything else seems easier.” Esther states seriously.

EM6 After wrapping up a team meeting, Esther, Cherise and Rod dive into the latest developments with their newest project called the Fingerprint tool.

“This tool will help everyone at Honeywell avoid unintended consequences,” says Esther. “We want to find mistakes early to make sure they never make them in the field.”

Esther is quick to emphasize that this is a team effort. To further explain, she uses a Star Trek analogy. Because that’s what Esther does.

“Yeah well, now it's interesting. The two Star Treks have different management styles. In the first one, Kirk is the leader,” Esther preaches. “He has to be there all the time. But, in Next Generation, Picard has a ready room. And whenever there's a decision to be made, he calls in his whole staff and they all go around the room. And it’s more of a team."EM7

 

Esther walks in the door of her Phoenix home after her Honeywell work day and greets her husband of 31 years, Tony. They interact with smiles and laughter, like they’re still on a honeymoon. The couple speaks fondly of their courtship. Early on, they each showed up at a mutual friend’s costume party. Tony was wearing a Captain Kirk shirt and Esther sported a homemade Romulan gown.

“I always tell people, look, I did the math,” Tony Massimini begins. “What are the chances of finding a woman who's interested in a science fiction loving, gourmet cooking, opera buff. I figured my chances were one in a million. Which is why I tell her I know I hit the jackpot with her.”

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The only thing Esther and Tony love more than Star Trek and opera is Star Trek operas. “I don’t think there are enough of them,” Esther says. “Europe has a Klingon opera.”

Family pictures dominate the decor but the Massimini house is also a subtle shrine to sci-fi and Star Trek. Tony has Klingon BBQ tools. There are autographed photos of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner. A curio cabinet is filled with collectible Star Trek plates. And then, there are the souvenir coffee cups from their 10th anniversary wedding vow renewal ceremony, emblazoned with their photo. Esther is wearing a Star Trek outfit. And so is Tony. “We got ‘re-married’ in Vegas by ‘Elvis’,” Tony says.

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But don’t be fooled by Esther’s love of Star Trek. It really has nothing to do with Hollywood, the actors or the pop culture. She truly embraces the meaning.

“I like Star Trek because it’s entertainment that goes deep and deals with social and moral lessons.”

And that’s really what Esther wants her legacy to be. Her career is Honeywell, but her passion is helping women, specifically women engineers, realize their true potential.

“What I really like is being able to make an impact and being able to let other women and girls know about the engineering field.”

She’s a mentor for SYSTERS, an organization that strives to increase the number of women in computer science and improve work environments for women. She also volunteers her time with the Aerospace Woman’s Council and Women in Honeywell Engineering Network.

“I was always one of the the only woman engineers for a long time,” Esther recalls.

She's also involved in a lot of other activities and diversity programs,” Esther’s manager Rod proclaims. “She's out making sure that we're attending all the right conferences.”EM12

So what does Esther want to do when she decides to retire? Live long and prosper, of course.

“I want to have a non-profit and I want to follow in the footsteps of someone I admire greatly, computer scientist and social entrepreneur Dr. Sue Black, and teach young mothers who are homeless how to code.”

“We also want to travel more,” says Tony. We already get away every now and then, but we’re looking forward to traveling the world a bit more.”

Right on cue, Esther adds. “Yes. And perhaps we’ll finally get to that Klingon opera in Europe.”

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Comments

 
 
   
  • Irene Ewers

    Such a terrific and inspirational article on so many levels. Great to see people like Esther so motivated at Honeywell! Love the human interest element - very nice.

    Reply
  • Parthiban Murugasan

    I was impressed after reading all the articles about Esther and totally agree she is one of the wonderful women in Honeywell and am proud of that . Well done Esther and keep rocking ! Thiban Senior Engineering Manager - PSE APAC Honeywell Aerospace Aviation Malaysia

    Reply
  • Jyotichandra Jingade

    Very very Inspiring Journey...

    Reply
  • Gomez Sy

    Fun, interesting and inspiring! Thanks for sharing Esther.

    Reply