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Honeywell Aerospace Celebrates International Women’s Day
Honeywell Aerospace Celebrates International Women’s Day
Harriet Mountcastle-Walsh has been a champion for diversity and inclusion for almost two decades at Honeywell. Not only was she the founder of the Aerospace Women’s Council, but she continues to be an advocate for the advancement of employees across functional and business roles. It’s not uncommon to see a line of people outside her office eager for advice and guidance.
Lisa Butters, General Manager of GoDirect Trade, talks candidly with Harriet about a range of topics that will both inspire and surprise you.
Lisa: I know you have a large family with four children, and specifically, you have two daughters. Today, we're seeing more critical mass around feminist and equality movements in the workplace. What advice would you give your daughters in today's changing landscape?
Harriet: Yes, we have two daughters—Ali is 20 and is currently studying abroad in Spain and my other daughter, Kiley, is 15 and in high school. I know this sounds cliché but so much of what my mom has taught me is advice that I try to pass onto my kids. Be an independent thinker. Rely on your own resources, your own smarts, your own common sense. Approach challenges head-on because you’re smart and can problem solve. I want our daughters to never doubt their ability to think through challenges on their own as well as seeking out the advice of others.
Lisa: You are well known at Honeywell for mentoring many men and women throughout your career. As you see the younger generation flowing into Honeywell, what advice would you give this up and coming generation of employees?
Harriet: Treat every assignment as an opportunity to learn new skills. Don’t be afraid to move laterally in your career to create a portfolio of experiences and continually broaden your network. Work outside your comfort zone or swim lane on occasion. This will give you a broad foundation that will open up wider opportunities later for promotion and job success.
Lisa: You've been a career woman ever since you got out of college. From the time you started Corporate America until today, I'm sure you've seen lots of positive changes in gender equality. What are your thoughts on the progress of these current movements?
Harriet: I won’t deny that we’ve made progress but it’s not at the right pace and not in all the right areas. We need to move faster. On top of that, we haven’t made the necessary progress in the most influential job roles in Corporate America. In my opinion, we need a broader population of diverse CEOs, General Managers, and Business Presidents in technical industries across the country. Particularly in jobs that are central to business decision making.
Lisa: Tell me about an influential woman in your life.
Harriet: I really have to recognize my mother again. Following World War II, my mother eloped with my father and they both went to Kent State. She took notes in classes for both of them while my father worked to support their growing family. She earned her science degree and my father earned a journalism degree. As soon as they had enough for a down payment, they instead bought a small farm. They were resourceful, worked hard, saved every penny, and made college possible for all five of us. There was no question in my mother’s mind that all of her children – boys and girls -- could have any job they wanted, anywhere. She would routinely put articles about successful career women on my bureau to prove her point!
Lisa: I don't know if it's the same for you, but for me, the daily grind to get through life can be utterly exhausting. Any tips on re-energizing yourself? What are some things you do to try to be your best self?
Harriet: Some days I feel like I am on a treadmill and someone just keeps cranking up the speed till I am ready to fly off the back! On these days, we need to be self-aware and come to grips with what energizes us. Invest in it, find time for it and allow yourself to protect it. For me, finding time for my family is what makes me genuinely happy. Yoga is another thing that I consistently do to decompress. Not only is it about understanding what motivates you and finding the time to invest in it but more importantly, it’s about being okay with using that precious time on occasion for yourself.
Lisa: We have to end this interview with an interesting tidbit on "The life of Harriet Mountcastle-Walsh." What is your favorite life hack?
Harriet: This probably isn't a life hack per se, but over the years, I've made it a point to always say "yes" to my kids.
Lisa: Wow, I'd love to be one of your kids.
Harriet: Okay, some points of clarification. When my kids were smaller, and they would ask to play a game or hang out, I found myself saying things like, “Not right now” or, “Let’s do it later.” Over time, I realized the dishes and email could wait. I was signaling to my kids that they weren’t my priority and I wanted to change that. Yes, let’s play now!
Lisa: On behalf of the Women in Tech (WIT) community, thanks so much for taking the time to give us a glimpse of your life and insights.
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It marks a particularly significant “first” for the aerospace industry. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action around the world to prioritize diversity and inclusion – in all industries and in all communities. This week, people from around the globe are sharing their own milestones – big and small. As an organization, Honeywell Aerospace strives to offer all employees an opportunity to thrive and grow without barriers.