When it comes to our internal glass ceiling, Imposter Syndrome is a major contributor to people holding themselves back. And it’s something we need to work on to prepare ourselves to break through the ceiling. Fiona McKay interviews Rachel Camarillo who shares her story of overcoming this. They discuss the the inner work that we can do for ourselves to tackle it, and how some of the uglier parts of our story are key to this.
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Read the Show Notes Here: Overcoming Imposter Syndome, With Rachel Camarillo
Welcome back everybody I am so excited to be hosting another episode of Leading Ladies. Today we have a fantastic guest joining us, her name is Rachel Camarillo; and Rachel is, quite frankly, an amazing woman that never lets circumstances hold her back. Rachel was the first from her family to go to college and she is a very proud Hawaiian and Filipino, she’s strongly connected to her family heritage and she carries a lot of these strong family values with her, so the work ethic, loyalty, family, it’s all there as part of her everyday work. Rachel has had what I would call a ‘portfolio career,’ and a pretty awesome one at that. she’s taken lots of twists and turns and tried out lots of different things to find out where her heart belongs. She started in the hotel business before becoming an entrepreneur and launching her own restaurants; she then moved into manufacturing while still running some of these restaurants; and was working in industrial machinery before taking another leap and today working for a company called Erin Air as a Controller and Business Manager. Rachel likes to be involved in many things and also founded the Washington branch of Women in Manufacturing in 2019. wow Rachel that is quite the bio!
You make me sound so fun, I want to meet myself, thank you, thank you for having me on this show! And I think it’s super important that women of all positions and races and everything get an opportunity to share their story because life is an experiment and we all can’t possibly do things, everything in life, and we have to learn from one another and leverage that learning from one another, so that we can make this the best possible life for ourselves, and so thank you for giving everyone this opportunity to do so!
Oh you’re welcome, you’re welcome. I have met so many wonderful women throughout my career and I’ve noticed that the number of women as you go up in seniority seems to decrease, and so I asked, ‘well how do we get the message out to lots of women?’ Because there’s so much great advice out there and so I feel really blessed to have all these women willing to come forward and share their stories. And at some point, we might even have a couple of men come and talk to us too about being an ally!
So opening question, and if you have been listening to my former podcast you will know that my first question is always, ‘what is your opinion on the glass ceiling?’
It totally still exists, and I never thought about the term ‘glass ceiling’ and understood what it meant when I heard it before I moved to Seattle. I was super lucky to have been surrounded by really awesome mentors in my time in Spokane, when I lived in Spokane after graduating from Gonzaga. and it wasn’t until that I moved here to Seattle that I really saw a shift, and maybe it was just that I was lucky in the culture of my time there at Red Lion, but it didn’t occur to me and then then I came to Seattle and I just saw a sea – forgive me, and I don’t want to offend anybody but it’s just a sea – of white men everywhere in the manufacturing world. I would go to everything and I would just see copy paste, copy paste and white men in suits, white men, white men in suits. And how do you climb up to see if you can get there as a woman? It kind of broke me a little bit because I didn’t see anybody that looked like me, I didn’t see any women around, and for me that was a very strong realization that, ‘gosh, there’s so much work to do, and what role can I play in that where I am? I want to just call myself a regular person, but how can I help in this effort because it still exists and we’re not going to get anywhere unless other women are strong enough to pull other women up? Because there are great allies out, there are other phenomenal men that I was so lucky to work with when I was at early in my career at Redline and in Spokane, but I wasn’t fortunate to have that when I moved over here at first . So it’s super important to band together as women and pull one another up and support and amplify one another’s experiences and accomplishments, so that we can all rise up together. And I think that that’s the key as women stop competing against each other and actually notice that there’s room for all of us up there.
Yeah and I just want to highlight that I know you were apologizing for what you were saying at first; we created this show because we need to talk about it, and everybody’s got a different perception and everybody’s got a different experience, and it’s not about men bashing, it’s not about it’s not about criticizing, but it’s talking about our own shared experience…and unless we talk about it we can’t learn from other people’s perspectives. And it’s a tough one because when I launched this podcast somebody said to me, ‘well you got a Leading Lady’s podcast, but what about the men? I’m like, ‘well I could do a podcast for men, but the challenges are a little bit different.’ And so it’s really tough to know how to walk forward, everybody’s kind of got a different stance they’re all in different place in the continuum and I myself worry sometimes, ‘ooh who might I offend?’ but if we offend people, we offend people. We’re here to talk about it, we are here to create an open environment, because only then can we talk about it. I think that most of these white men don’t intentionally want to make us feel this way, but they need so it feels like that. They need to know that when a woman walks in a room and she’s the only woman among sixteen other men that does something to her. And yes, even if they are treating her the same, it still does something to her because there’s just some something around comfort and seeing other people that look like you.
it’s a huge, huge, powerful thing, and I didn’t realize it until I moved to Seattle, and I felt I was actually alone in, and I wasn’t surrounded by a lot of women. and what’s funny, when you say that is that they don’t intentionally do that, no one intentionally wants to hold anyone else back, but it’s just the norm. I remember having an event, and it was our (WIM) launch event in June of 2019 last year or something, and my husband had come just to support and actually participate in the workshop. and we were packing up and we were going home, and I said, ‘how did you think it went.’ and he said, ‘I have to say if this is how it feels like to be a woman coming to a meeting where you are one of five people in a room of 50, I can see why you don’t want to speak up, or why it takes you so long to gain, to get that courage…because you are really the minority, forget being a minority, it’s if you are different.’ He was sitting at a table when he didn’t know what to say, and I was like, ‘that’s exactly how it feels every day.’ And so it’s a powerful thing.
I think that every man should be put in that position, it does just change your perspective. I used to hold a Women In Aerospace conference and I remember we’d maybe have eight to ten guys here and they’d be like, ‘wow, that felt uncomfortable. Good! I’m glad it did, maybe we should start these simulation camps where men get to go spend a week with just women or something, like a women’s shadow program!
Rachel, one of the things that I love about you is that you never let your circumstances hold you back. Everything you’ve just said right now, you don’t let the fact that you’re a woman hold you back, you don’t let the fact that you used to work in the hotel industry hold you back from going into aerospace…
There’s just nothing holding you back and that plays in fantastic to our main topic today which is overcoming imposter syndrome. And I’m curious, what made you want to talk about this today?
Well over the past, I want to say three or four years, I made a really strong commitment to myself that I wanted to meet and expand, meet new people and expand my network here in Seattle. I moved here not knowing anyone, so I embarked on a very intentional journey to expand my network, meet new people, learn from them, and find a tribe of women who that are like-minded. and through that I kept hearing all of these comments from fellow women saying, ‘god, you’ve got it all together, god you’re so happy, god you just light up the room when you come in and I meet you, it’s so fun, you just come in you with your little flower on your ear and you give me a hug, and you’re awesome, you’re like fearless.’ and what’s really funny is that when I leave and I think about that, that’s probably the farthest from the truth of how you really feel inside. Every time I would get in front of an audience, or I would go and meet new people, I’m doing the same thing as everyone else. I’m questioning myself on whether I am should be here, or ‘how dare you Rachel want to ask for this in your contract, how dare you Rachel think that you have the ability to start something when you don’t even know anyone here in Seattle, you’ve only been working in manufacturing for six years…and blah blah blah.’ Everyone has these doubts, they have these huge doubts. and I just got fed up with myself, honestly I got irritated with myself, I felt like a very big hypocrite because the very things that I was trying to instill in other people as a leader every single day was exactly opposite of how I was treating myself. And that was a very, very big revelation for me over the past year that, ‘gosh, we’ve got to stop doing this…and this imposter syndrome and women limiting themselves is one of the biggest keys to the glass ceiling that we’re talking about. As much as we want to blame other people and society and stuff, we as women and as individuals have to meet people halfway. We have to be ready and prepared for the opportunity…and if you’re not you will miss it. And then continues the whole narrative of, ‘we’re not good enough,’ or, ‘we’re not going to make it.’ You have to prepare yourself to understand that you are worthy of it and then when it comes be prepared for it…because if you don’t you’re going to be stuck in a cycle, and you’re never going to reach the top. And that right there is probably the biggest thing. And there’s some of the things that I did on my own, to kind of go through my discovery process of, ‘okay, I got, it I’m not gonna be scared anymore, I’m just gonna go for it. And really mean it, not just say it, but really mean it. The kind of love that I give to my employees and those around me who seek advice, I want to give that to myself. And we have to do that because otherwise we’re not we’re never going to reach that successful point in which women are equals in the workplace.
Yes, that’s one of the things that I talk to my clients about all the time. It’s got to be an inside job, because if you don’t love you, how can you expect everybody else to love you? if you don’t think you’re capable or worth it how can you expect somebody? And I just love the point that you made about the fact that the glass ceiling, it’s not just down to other people, it is down to ourselves? when my coach said to me, ‘why don’t you launch a podcast,’ I’m like , ‘oh my god, oh I can’t do that, oh no.’ And now I have all these women saying, ‘I want to be on your podcast, and it’s so exciting.’ But I had to believe in it first. and it’s actually come up in a few of our sessions so far that the glass ceiling it’s not actually just something that’s imposed on us by others, it is imposed on us by ourselves too. There will always be societal things about the glass ceiling that we will have to overcome, but if you tackle the stuff inside first, getting through it is a heck of a lot easier. and it’s a lot of work.
Right! When you see a confident guy walking around do you ever think, ‘god, that guy must have done a lot of therapy to get that much confidence?’ I mean, that never comes up…but when you see a woman who has this steadfast belief in herself you ask, ‘how did she do that, how did she do that? And I have to admit, myself included, there’s a lot of work that has to happen to work through all of the things that happened as we were young. we all go through so much; we all have these journeys throughout life that that are we hide deep inside ourselves. I grew up with parents that were addicted to drugs, I grew up raising my siblings, I started working when I was a sophomore in high school to support my family financially, I was a victim of sexual and physical abuse for most of my childhood. and I spent my entire life, probably up until the past through three years, trying so much to avoid the positives of what came out of those situations because I wanted to lock it up for forever. and it isn’t until you dig deep and you write it all out, you do the hard work of reflection, that you realize that all of those things, bad or not, they are part of your journey. And they make you who you are, and they make you stronger, so why are you trying to hide those things when it none of it was your fault? The things you go through, it’s not your, fault crap happens. And at the point in which you yourself can let go of that fact, you will unleash the power that’s in you – because you are now using that as, ‘if I can survive this, I can then survive someone in a conference room telling me, ‘no, I don’t want to give you 10 more.’ I mean in comparison and for the everyday when you’re not thinking about it, you’re like, ‘oh god, I’m so scared, I don’t want to go ask for this in my contract, or I don’t want to, I don’t think I deserve this.’ F yes, you deserve it. You deserve it. And so I think that for so many of us try to become the version of what you think the world wants or needs, but you are what the world needs. So you have to do the work on yourself, and it is a transformation from the inside out in order to meet the opportunity and then grasp it and be ready for it. because if I if I wasn’t prepared for it and if I hadn’t done the hard work, I can imagine that someone would have come to me with this opportunity of moving to this job and I would have said no because I would have been scared. And how crappy would have that been? Because I’m having an awesome time!
Rachel thanks for sharing this really beautiful perspective. and I really appreciate your vulnerability – wow, I just pronounced that like an America – sorry, for my British listeners I appreciate the vulnerability (pronounces the ‘t). it’s a big pillar of this show, let’s get vulnerable, let’s share the honest stories. I was bullied in school and I actually think that that really helped me in the workplace, because I wouldn’t let people mess me around or push me around which, working in a male dominated industry, I think that came in quite handy. And I remember I had my first is my first management position, and I made my first big mistake, and I sat in this conference room, sitting behind the door where nobody could see me just bawling my eyes out, thinking I was gonna get fired. and now when something happens to me, when I fail, I remember that time. because failing’s part of the process. and there’s just so many things that we have that we think are negative, but actually make us stronger.
Definitely, and I think it’s a shame factor too. in Hawaii – and I think this is this is true amongst all cultures like that – the way I grew up, it’s loyalty. it’s, ‘you do not do anything to shame your family,’ and that took a toll on me as I tried to work through the things that I have experienced in my life. and it was hard work, it’s hard work. My parents have been drug free for three years, and this is the longest clean spell I’ve ever had with them, and we are soaking it up; and I can’t say whether or not it’s gonna last for forever. because it’s an everyday battle. But when you take the leap to really think about, ‘I’m not I’m doing this for myself I’m gonna talk about my experience because others need to hear it,’ because they need to hear that it’s okay to accept that part of them. And they can then be the key that helps other women succeed, because we all have these shared experiences. One in three women are sexually abused okay, so how is it that we hide this conversation so much, that we don’t talk about it, and honor it and help one another through it?
Yea, absolutely. I myself have experience being around people with alcoholism. And it was it was devastating for me at the time. and it actually led to the huge transformation; when I saw this person go through the 12 steps I was like, ‘man, I want it, I want some of that, I want change.’ And that’s what led to my coaching, and that’s how I get to hang out with all these beautiful people and see lives be transformed. so there’s so much beauty that comes out of these experiences, but for the longest time I was like, ‘well, I’m not going to tell anybody, I’m so ashamed, that doesn’t happen to people like me.’ and the minute I started being open about my experience it was just like a huge weight came off my shoulders. And it made me a better leader.
Exactly, it’s freeing, it’s so freeing to just be yourself and not be like, ‘oh gosh, okay I’m not trying to put up a front.’ but no one else feels that burden, you’ve just been lying to yourself and trying, it’s so exhausting, it’s fighting with yourself. my hope is that the more we can share and normalize these conversations, the more we can support one another, and the more we can get down to business and, I don’t know, take over the world. What’s really funny is, like I went through this transformation, I’ve been working with Erin Air for three months and one of the biggest questions that I encountered in my interviewing process was, ‘what’s your goal in life Rachel?’ And I was doing interview after interview, I guess, testing the waters, or the gray area, and I was like, ‘oh, world dominance, that’s my goal.’ And some people laughed, and some people got really scared, but women need to come together to dominate, seriously!
I actually posted something on Facebook today in which said, ‘if I were to do a TED talk, what do you think I would talk about?’ And somebody actually put ‘world domination.’ And I was like, ‘hmm, I would like to talk about that…so I if I’m gonna talk about that I guess I should go do it first! I’m really curious, for me the reason why I’m looking for world domination is because I have ideas that I want to spread, I just want people to live more authentic life, that’s my thing. What do you think about when you think about world domination, what drives you to want that?
I think something was instilled in me when I was growing up, and my sister said it the best to me when I was trying to talk to her about why am I the way I am, why do I always fight for this, and why can’t I just leave it alone? And she’s just like, ‘you see what other people are capable of and you want them to do and live up to their greatness.’ and I think that for me, that is really it. I want to do better, I want other people to do better, the better you are, the better I am, because I’m choosing to surround myself with you. There’s nothing better than seeing somebody live out their best life, whether that be, I don’t know, choose a career, pick one you can love. And you maybe might not change the world, but to me when you change one person’s life, you’re changing the world in some fashion. as a leader, for me it’s a huge responsibility, because as a leader, as someone who’s being instilled this blessing of mentoring and guiding someone not only to do the day-to-day tasks, but to find what it is that makes them tick, and to be that support and that person that gives them that sense of comfort that it’s okay to make mistakes that it’s okay to learn okay to grow okay to test the waters. They take that and they go home, and they bless their families with that love, then they bless their friends with that love, and their kids. and that’s how you change the world, or that’s how I want to change the world. I wish I was super wealthy, come from a huge trust of millions and billions of dollars, and I could like set up foundations and do all this kind of stuff. Maybe that’s down in my future, but for me right now, what I what I really am passionate about is helping and spreading the word that leaders hold the key, a huge key in changing the world and dominating the world with kindness and with love. if everybody finds what makes them tick, think about how much wonderful and how much happier this life would be.
Right! And it’s leaders, not managers, not bosses. So many people out there think, ‘oh, I’m a leader,’ but if you’re not thinking about the shadow that you cast as a leader and how people feel about you and what they can learn from you, you’re not a leader. And you can be a leader if you’re not from the c-suite personally and that’s why, that’s what I like to say is, ‘you don’t have to be the president to be a leader.’ And so for all you women listening, and men if you’re one of our allies, this show is not just for executive c-suite women, it’s for anybody who’s a leader…. you could be in the first year of your career and be a leader, you could still be in college and be a leader. So if you’re sitting there and you’re like, ‘I’m a leader,’ get in touch, we want you on here, because it’s important that we hear this advice from women at all levels! So Rachel, when you’re ready to change to your next career just let me know, because you clearly need to be a motivational executive coach, that’s your next career sorted out because you’ve got all the qualities!
I just want to go back to something you said earlier, you were talking about how, ‘you got to do your own work, go do your own work first.’ would you be open to share a little bit about some of the work that you did on yourself to get to this place of enlightenment?
I want to say that I was given a second chance at life, and this happened in 2016. I had a very difficult birth with my second child and I nearly hemorrhaged to death at home one day. And my husband saved me, he found me in the bathroom lying in my own blood and had to have some blood transfusions. After coming out of the hospital after that stint, I don’t know what happened to me, but I was very mixed in with the baby blues and postpartum depression and stuff. I just knew something had to change. And I think that’s when I decided, ‘okay, I could have been gone.’ And then I started thinking about all the other times in my life where I came this close to being gone too, the times when you’re a teenager and you’re driving and you’re not paying attention, or just all of those things where you cheated and escaped. and that’s a deep question, it has nothing to do with imposter syndrome but it’s, ‘why am I still here, why did I get saved, why didn’t I leave this earth, probably I should have.’ And then I started digging in and I started doing therapy, I started really drawing out my life – and being visual helped me so, I literally have maps on huge post-it papers of my journey of ‘I started here, I went to school, I did this, I did this,’ and it zigzags everywhere. And every point, whether it was a school, or a job, I wrote down things that happened in those situations. And it’s a huge map and then when I looked at it I realized, ‘holy crap, I’ve been through a lot, why am I giving myself so much crap and feeling like I have done nothing?’ when you visually see it and you write it down like, ‘oh I was at this position and I did this, I was exposed to this, I achieved this, I did this, I did this, or there was this point in my life where I had to do this, and I had to overcome this, and here’s what I had to experience. And whether it was good or bad, the bad needs to be in there too, you gotta acknowledge the bad. So that’s really what I did, I mapped it out and I looked at it and I had this thought, ‘this has to count for something, and how are you going to show up every day until something comes, now you’ve got to work on yourself to be prepared for whatever opportunity and whatever energy is coming your way. Wherever it is guiding you, it has guided you here for some reason.’ And I was never this person thinking about, ‘oh the universe is working with you,’ I was so anti anything like, ‘oh you work hard that’s all you do,’ like there’s nothing in the back helping you get through life.
Oh yes, the universe gets involved! So recently I’ve been questioning, ‘do I want to be this voice for women?’ Because I really love coaching men, I’m really good at it and I don’t want to alienate men, because I want to coach men too. So I’m questioning it, and then I get this new client the other day, and in the first coaching session I learn there’s a woman in her workplace that went through exactly what I went through in my last workplace, and she’s brokenhearted watching this. And I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘oh,’ and it’s like she was brought to me to say, ‘Fiona, this is part of your mission; you can still coach men, but you care so much about this, let’s carry on. People sometimes call it divine intervention. I don’t go to church and for a while I was like, ‘well that’s woo-woo.’ And now I just had so many examples of it, it’s so weird, the universe likes to have fun with you!
Right, sometimes she’s messing with you! but when you look at it, the realization came to me, and it became more real as I started working in aviation this past couple months, because if you look at it a certain way, that everything that comes to you and you take the positives, you can see how your life builds. And if you recognize it and you give it reverence and you intentionally seek those that have the same type of energy as you, those who believe in you, you can really see that everything that you went through is building up to this point. I’m working in an aviation business that manages aircraft, charters and maintains aircraft, so I have my manufacturing piece in there, I have my hospitality piece in there and the aircraft management piece is a huge part of customized financials. And so all of those three things, it’s odd right. You talk about that I had a portfolio career – I’ve never heard anybody use that term before but that’s totally it – and I would not be successful in this position right now if I hadn’t gone through that. One of the things that I did right out of the gate when I was looking for a new job was be super clear and what it is that I wanted. and I wrote down three things that I wanted from my next job, and I said no to every opportunity that didn’t meet those three things.
And you had that self-belief that you were worth it!
Yeah, and gosh if you would have told me this two years ago, I would have been like, ‘yeah, good luck, that’s not gonna happen.’
I know, I always tell my clients, ‘you do not take a job because you’re running away from something, you pick what you’re running towards and you damn well go after that.’
It gives me chicken skin because, or goosebumps, or whatever you want to call it. If you if you set out to do it, the universe is definitely on your side, my husband was trying to tell me this for years. The secret, have you read the secret?
So I watched The Secret, and I was like, ‘well, that’s a bit that’s a bit woo-woo, but I’m going to try it.’ and I was like, ‘let’s let some money come my way, let some money come my way.’ and then and then I got a check in the mail for five grand! I was like ‘yes, oh my gosh, yeah.’ And now I have a money tree in my house and it’s growing I’m like, ‘yes!’ I used to laugh at that stuff and I just, I get it now. It’s like visualization, it’s the constant reminders, it’s the unconscious everything – if you focus on it, every decision you make is going to point you towards that goal yeah. Well, it’s not actually just a woo-woo thing it’s – and by the way, I apologize if I’m using the word out of context, I mean I love woo woo now – just so everybody knows that – but for me I’ve learned that there’s actually a scientific explanation behind it. the universe is still there, but when we visualize things and we focus on things it triggers the prefrontal cortex in our brain, and so then we’re subconsciously looking out for stuff. it’s like when you buy a red car, you never notice red cars before and all of a sudden you notice all the red cars. and so it is so important to say, ‘I’m going after this,’ or, ‘I’m creating this vision board, because this is the future that I’m creating for myself,’ because when we visualize it, we strengthen those neural pathways in our brains. It helps us to go after what we want without even thinking about it
Yes, and it’s also about protecting your energy. it’s being willing and strong enough to say, ‘you are messing with my juju in the universe because you’re drowning my energy, that I might have to distance myself from you or this,’ or whatever the situation is. because if you don’t protect your energy then you get drowned and I think that’s one of the things I learned about through therapy after 2016 is like I was just being drowned. I would have to go to the hospital all the time, to take my son to therapy after his birth and constantly being around sick people, constantly being around all the negative talk and the worst-case scenario discussions and stuff. It did more damage than it did good. And so once we decide, ‘okay we’re gonna focus on this, I’m gonna stop this’ and protect your energy, then things started changing. and so you’ve got to be brave and steadfast in your decision on who you want to be.
Yeah, my circumstances have started to change, well not started, they changed a lot in the last few months, and it’s really interesting because I’m opening up to the idea of things that I never would before. I thought I didn’t want kids and now I’m like, ‘maybe I do want kids, maybe I want to adopt, maybe I want to foster.’ I don’t know, but before when I had all this negative stuff coming my way, like every day, I was like, ‘well, it’s too negative for any children.’ And it’s just so beautiful when you remove that, it just opens up the world. So I can’t promise I’m gonna be having kids or anything, but I’m definitely like – mom, don’t get too excited.
Well you have brain space and you have energy for that good stuff.
I do now because it’s not all going out to this place.
And you circle back around to the imposter syndrome you’re focusing on the negatives of stuff; you’re feeding that negative energy when you’re telling yourself that you’re not worth it.
Yeah, I thought I couldn’t be a good mother and now I’m like, ‘maybe I could be a good mother.’ Anyway, enough about me, back to you. So, you were kind of an impostor when you came into the world of aerospace; you could also do manufacturing, but you could argue that with your current job you’re essentially an imposter. A lot of people would say, ‘well that job should go to somebody who has a background in aerospace.’
So tell me how your first couple of months have gone, what are some of your experiences, how have you overcome the naysayers? I know people might not out loud, have said things, but I’m sure that you’ll have seen it in some people’s energy, and tell me how you got through the first few months?
I want to say that I was told over and over again – and I think this is why I was so scared about going into aviation – I was told over and over again, and just got this sense that aviation and aerospace is such a small tight-knit community, with its own language, you’ve got to grow up in this in this industry to really understand how things work and blah blah blah blah. That was ingrained in me for some reason, no one outwardly said that to me, but I got this sense it was like this elitist group.
It’s BS and I have clients who’ve come into aerospace from outside and have they said the same thing, and I’m like ‘do you know how much you have to offer because you don’t think like everybody else?’
So here’s what happens, I think what is powerful and what I think that I don’t know maybe there might be another industry shift in my future because I think that you bring so much to the table with outside experience – I mean, I’m not saying that everybody should do it – I’m saying that you need really good leadership, communication, and those types of skills to make it work. Because you just can’t show up and be like, ‘I know everything, you guys don’t know anything,’ it takes hard work to unpeel the layers of an organization, to get down to why they do what they do, how they do what they do, and how we should be doing it differently, to get the results that we want. And for me it was, ‘well we do this, and we do this I’m like, ‘It doesn’t matter, at the end of the day this is an airplane, the airplane flies, the airplane gets fixed.’ If you dumb it down to the simplest terms, without all these things coming at you from your history of working in the industry, you can shed some light on people, and they go, ‘oh, that was so simple.’ I’ve had an employee say that to me and I felt very grateful, and I said, ‘oh gosh, there goes all of the worry that I had that I had nothing to offer.’ Because I went in there with a firm belief that what I had experienced in my life, career-wise and personal, that I was prepared for this, whatever it was. and since then I’ve cut down closed days, I’ve automated financial statements, I built custom forecast reports, I’m helping in marketing, and process improvements everywhere. And I have to admit I google probably five six times a day on different terms, but that’s okay. And I geek out, and I watch YouTube videos of pilots flying their jets just to understand the things that they’re saying and the calls that they’re doing. And when we go out and we see a new jet and people are looking at it and they’re seeing the the seats and, ‘Oh this is really good,’ and I’m there saying, ‘wow, who made that piece you made that piece, oh that’s from there I can imagine how that sheet metal was formed, so I have a different lens in it, and appreciation of it. so I think that it’s worked out phenomenal. But I also think that you have to be ready for to experience it that way.
If you can bring the qualities that can’t be taught, well the harder thins to teach like the leadership side of things, if it’s the academic side you need to catch up on, it’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. And by the way, there is a great book for anybody thinking of getting into aerospace or wanting to learn more, it’s called, ‘A Chick in the Cockpit,’ by Erika Armstrong.’
Yes, I just bought that on audible, I love it!
I’d love to get her on here sometime soon, ‘Erika, I hope you’re listening!’
It’s really great to be surrounded by a team who is just really eager and willing to open themselves to the things that I have to say, because it definitely would be a lot harder if I wasn’t surrounded by a great team. And there’s women everywhere, which is great, we have a chief pilot who’s a female and so that’s great too, I mean I’m surrounded by other women, it’s just been a really great experience. But you have to understand that you bring value, and if I was to walk in there scared every day, I would not be effective. And so I think that the hard work that was done on the inside really helped. And you could show up and be like, ‘oh I’m not really sure.’ But I’m digging in and I’m just saying, ‘this is how it is,’ standing up for what I believe in and just saying, ‘I know that this is right, this is how we should be doing it.’ It’s been it’s been awesome, and I don’t know why I was so damn scared for so long. And I remember telling you one day, ‘I don’t know if I could do it, I don’t know if I can go into aviation, I don’t know anything about it’
What did I say?
You said, ‘oh you can learn it, it’s great, you can do it you can do it. and you were right!
I think you could do anything that you put your mind to Rachel; Rachel for president as far as I’m concerned!
So Rachel, what has been your proudest moment so far since joining Erin Air?
I think one of my proudest moments is… really, I want to say that we’ve accomplished a lot over the past three months, since I’ve been there, we’ve got through COVID, haven’t laid off anyone, our business revenue dropped significantly in March and April, and we’re back up to almost 80-90% of our business here in May/June so that’s phenomenal, but not having to lay anyone off was huge. Getting in there the week before the stay at home stay safe order was in there and then having to tell everybody that we might not be able to get paid that was kind of a weird situation walking in as the new girl, but we survived that and I think one of my proudest moments is that just at least once a day someone’s telling me, ‘Thank you, thank you for doing this, thank you for coming in, thank you for being a part of this, helping in other ways other than just financials yeah stepping above.’ I went in there telling them that I intend to be the CFO – yeah you are not hiring me for CFO but I intend to be a CFO – and as I left that meeting and I wanted to barf because, ‘I don’t know who are you to demand that,’ but I said I will show you that I work above what a controller is because I’m gonna help you with marking strategic plans, mentoring of employees, restructuring of resources. And that’s what I’m doing and I’m making good on my word, and we’re gonna add two more jets to our fleet soon and it’s just, it’s a fun time.
And don’t ever apologize for having that confidence in declaring what you want. Because we got to start declaring what we want, stop worrying about the how, decide the what first. Decide the what, and if you really want it, you will make it happen. Again I think that it would be unusual for a man to say, ‘Oh I said this, and oh I shouldn’t have said that I shouldn’t have told people I wanted to be the CFO,’ and apologize for it. So you don’t you apologize for having your ambitions, because I actually think it’s beautiful and I want more women to get out there and be saying, ‘I’m going to be the CEO of this company, I’m going to be the first woman in the C-suite, I’m going to make a difference, I’m going to make sure that we change these numbers.’ Because if we had more of us being bold and saying those things, I think we could psychologically and emotionally and spiritually just create this movement. So let’s go for it!
Yeah, I love it, thank you yeah.
I’m going for world domination with the podcast I’m like it’s going to be another country in the world [Laughter]
You’re right, that’s one of my actual goals this year is to stop saying sorry so damn much, but it’s this thing that’s ingrained in you right you, like you don’t want to overstep because you don’t want them to think that you’re being too pushy, and you don’t want to come off as this. But dang it I’m still, I only have a limited amount of time on this earth left, I need to get to where I want to go, so are you going to help me? Because I’m going to move away, I’m going to, I’m going to move on if you’re not going to be a part of this, because I don’t know what I’m doing yet but I know I want to do this. And so I think that’s the energy that I brought when I came into this business and it’s just fun and I’m very blessed that I have some support in that, and they didn’t just be like, ‘Oh god what are you talking about,’ because I can imagine that it would have gone very differently. I wouldn’t be working here if that’s the response that I got but it would be some really good conversation.
Some people can’t handle it, some people can’t be with that kind of power. Something one of my coaches said to me earlier on was that some people will struggle to be with your presence and your power Fiona. And I just have to get okay with that. And there’s been some men and women who have who have adored my power, I mean Melanie Jordan who I used to work for she’s just like, ‘You can do anything, and I totally believe in you,’ and that was just so magical, and Avinash Misra, who was one of my first managers in England, he really championed for me to do whatever I could. The people, the naysayers, people that don’t like that confidence and that that power you want to bring to the world, you know what, you can’t please everybody.
I think one of the things that you learn as you grow up and in your leadership role and you become, you learn how you want to show up as a leader, is that you’re never going to please everybody, and there’s always going to be somebody who you piss off, like you can do everything right and somebody’s always going to be pissed off, and so just do what you want to do and that what is right, that you can stand behind, and you can look at yourself in the mirror every day and say, ‘I stand by my beliefs, I stand by my actions, this is my choice and here’s why I did it,’ and just do it. It took me a long time to learn that but once you learn you can’t please everybody so you might as well live your best life and do it.
There were two moments for me, so one was when I did my reflective dissertation when I was doing my master’s, and I was actually looking at self-awareness. And I really learned it takes so much more effort to change all the things that you’re not good at to please everybody else but takes far less effort to really home in on what you’re good at. And so I always used to worry like, ‘Oh I’m too noisy, I’m too, I’m not I’m not quiet enough.’ Just embrace who you are, it’s okay. And then the second big point for me was very similar to yours, I don’t know what it was, but I decided I care what people think about me, but I don’t care if you don’t like me. Because I’m a good person and I live with integrity as much as I can and when I mess up, I say sorry and so I just think that if more if more women could embrace that then I think this world would be a much easier place to live in.
It would be so beautiful when you think about, you said something about honing in on what you’re good at versus what you’re not, when you get clear on what you want to be and you accept that you can’t be everything, but what you are and what you are good at someone needs, that magic. And I was thinking about it, maybe I’m not going to work for a huge fortune 500 company because what I don’t want is all that red tape. Sometimes I love being a part of smaller organizations where I can make a decision today and the effect like it’s going to go into action tomorrow, no long line of people to have to write huge reports for and convince of the situation. And I have experience in operations and finance and all this stuff; that would be useful for a smaller business because that’s one person, low head count, lean and everything. And so is that everything, am I going to be able to jump into this industry or this position, maybe not, but there’s a niche. Find your niche, find what you’re good at, find what makes you tick and gosh, not everybody can sit in front of the computer and geek out over a spreadsheet but I love me a good spreadsheet and that’s my superpower, like I can make anything so beautiful but like I can plan, I can plan out something if you have a huge idea and you don’t know how to execute, I’m the one that goes, ‘Okay we gotta do this this this this is this’ And it’s a domino effect in my brain and that’s how it works and not everybody has that superpower so you’ve got to find yourself and build a team that will help you find your blind spots. And one thing that I always that I tell my employee, that a couple of people that I work with now, it’s like I will have so many new ideas and I’m million miles an hour, you have to tell me when this is too much for you. And opening those lines of communication and stuff, it really helps because people know, then they don’t get annoyed at you because you’re like, ‘oh what if we do this, oh what if we do this, we should do this, they’re like, ‘okay, wait let me settle down.’ And so I used to think about that as something bad about myself, but I realized that’s the good thing if it’s controlled.
Yeah, as a solopreneur I’m having to control it. I have my little book of ideas for now and for later. I am so looking forward to the day when I have a team and I can be like, ‘hey let’s go do some of these ideas.’ It’ll take some time, but I know I’ll get there.
You will, you will. this is new, this is this is the great start for you, I’m so proud of you starting a podcast like this.
Oh thank you, thank you.
you’re really good conversationalist.
In England we say you’ve got the gift of the gab.’ I’ve always had the gift of the gab since I was a small child so I might as well use it!
There you go!
Well Rachel I could talk to you all evening, this has been such a beautiful conversation and you just brought so much power and heart and energy to it I feel like I could shoot through the roof right now, it’s been awesome. So a final question is, you’ve given so much great advice today I almost feel silly asking it, but if you met a young woman who was just starting out in aerospace today, maybe somebody graduating from college, or somebody going to college and thinking, ‘I wouldn’t mind working with airplanes,’ what would be the one piece of advice you would give them about not being affected by this glass ceiling? I think that I would tell her that, ‘This industry needs you to find your superpower and pull up other women, that you are capable and that if you can survive schooling and that you have a desire, you can just do what you can, you can do it you can do it.’ I don’t think that any industry, aviation, manufacturing, hospitality, anything should be scary for anyone, I think you just go for it. Because the future generations of women need you to go take that step, because they’re looking at you. If you want that, they, someone else, is there everyone is watching you. And more girls need to need to see other women in positions and in fields and in industries where women aren’t represented, so go for it, bet on yourself.
I don’t know if that’s really good advice or not, that’s that ‘just do it, like you can do it.
If it came from the heart, it’s good.
Thank you, thank you.
Well Rachel, it has been a real pleasure getting to know you a little better today. Your vulnerability, your heart, your passion, your compassion, just everything. I’m sure our listeners will be like, ‘we want to her back!’ So listeners, thank you for being here today with us if you go to the website, you will see that there’s show notes there’s more information about how you can get in touch with Rachel and find out about some of the great things she’s up to, like the women in manufacturing work she leads, so many ways to get involved, so please, please head to McKayUnlimited.com and check out our shows. We’ve got tons of episodes on there, now give us that feedback, tell us the women you want to hear from, really get involved, let’s spread the word that there can be more Leading Ladies in this world, and we are going to break that glass ceiling.
Rachel is the Controller and Business Manager for private aviation company Erin Air. Her expertise lies in finance and accounting, but she also brings 15 years of leadership experience in the areas of organizational design, Human Resources, operations, and board service across industries such as hospitality, restaurants, and manufacturing. She is an active advocate in the community for the professional development of women in manufacturing and aerospace and founded the Women in Manufacturing Washington Chapter in 2019 and continues to serve as the Chair of the Board of Directors; she also serves on the National Board of Directors for the Women in Manufacturing Educational Foundation.