“In the aerospace industry, innovation is welcomed – to a point,” says full-time Berkeley MBA student and aerospace engineer Chris Cindy Cordova. Since what's most important is the safety of the aircraft, it can take a while to incorporate new technology.
"Aerospace is a highly regulated, traditional industry, and companies tend to be hesitant about technology advances," she says. "Design changes have to undergo significant testing, so they're incorporated pretty slowly."
Strengthening leadership skills while balancing school and family
A desire to develop her leadership abilities and use them to innovate in her field is what led Chris to pursue an MBA at Berkeley Haas, following a BS in aeronautical engineering at Stanford and nearly ten years with Honeywell in a variety of roles.
"I felt I needed to get some training outside of the engineering bubble I was in so I could come back to my industry with some fresh leadership skills," she says. "In particular, startup culture has this built-in agility to it, and I knew I could explore that culture at Haas."
Not that agility is a new concept for Chris. As the mother of three daughters 10 and under, she's had to juggle work and home demands throughout her career and now as she earns her MBA.
"Raising children and working is tough on many levels, but it's possible, and part of what motivates me is being a role model for my daughters," she says. "It really helps that the Haas community is so supportive. Events like Consumption Function have offered activities and snacks tailored to my kids, and my study group has been willing to schedule meetings between classes during the day rather than in the evenings. These kinds of things mean a lot."
Guiding and mentoring other women
Since she started the program, Chris has learned more about what it takes to launch a new company and how entrepreneurs and venture capitalists work together. And this knowledge further motivates her to use her own career experiences not only to raise strong daughters, but also to guide and mentor other women. In fact, already Chris has served as a speaker at events designed to spark engineering interest among girls and inner city youth, and as an engineering recruiting event coordinator for both Stanford and Honeywell.
"The way I think about my career has always included other people and its impact on them," she says. "As a woman of color in the aerospace industry, I've had to face a lack of representation at work, and as a mother, I've had to deal with my aerospace colleagues not understanding what it's like to raise children and have a career. That's why it's so important to me to be a role model for younger women in the hopes of making their path a bit easier."
And part of being a mentor to others is taking measured risks oneself, Chris says. For her, this means working in the startup/venture capital sphere for a while after graduation before returning to aerospace.
"It's not easy going to school full time and parenting," she says. "But what gets me through is that I know it will have a positive impact on the people in my life."
Could an MBA help you have positive impact? We invite you to learn more about the Full-time Berkeley MBA program.