Bombardier: leading the way in aircraft innovation
On 11 December 2019, the International Air Transport Association forecast 2020 as another positive year for aviation, with net profits of US$29.3bn expected.
Not long after, in Montreal, Bombardier celebrated its first ‘Global 6500’ aircraft entering active service with HK Bellawings Jet Limited, Hong Kong. A state-of-the-art vehicle touting the “largest cabin, the longest range and the smoothest ride in its class”, David Coleal, President of Bombardier Aviation, has called the Global 6500, “the aircraft of choice for thriving business jet management companies.”
Alongside an innovatively designed interior, featuring Bombardier’s ergonomically designed ‘Nuage’ seats, the aircraft has two specially-designed Rolls Royce Pearl engines that give it a 6,600 nautical mile range. This allows business passengers in major Asian capitals like Hong Kong and Shanghai to connect to places such as Los Angeles, London and Milan.
Aircraft innovations to watch
With aviation remaining at the forefront of transport innovation and industry leaders like Bombardier pushing the frontiers in manufacturing, here we consider some of the key trends shaping the sector.
Cabin concepts: On larger models of passenger aircraft a diverse range of comfort can be built into the first-class, business-class, and economy-class experience. Airbus (working with Safran) won a 2019 Crystal Cabin Award for its ‘Lower Deck Pax Experience Modules’, which allowed passenger space to be extended into the cargo hold. Meanwhile, Emirates fitted the first-class section of its Boeing 777-300ERs with luxury cabins, featuring personal mini-bars, wardrobes, and beds.
Materials and components: Developing new components or changing materials within an aircraft has benefits not just for passengers but also for manufacturers. Last year, for example, Collins Aerospace replaced its traditional lighting system with newly designed μLED lighting. This innovative technology is a small reading light that uses densely packed LED bulbs to create a focused light source for passengers. Highly adaptable and customisable according to the aircraft’s design, μLEDs have an average lifespan 40,000 hours longer than standard reading lights and a brightness equivalent to at least three of them. This relatively small adjustment has allowed Collins Aerospace to save electricity costs and reduce the weight of its aircraft.
Entertainment and connectivity: Essential to any passenger’s comfort, particularly on long-haul flights, is access to quality entertainment if they desire it. United Airlines secured a contract with communications company Viasat in 2018 to introduce its in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) system onto 70 of its aircraft. The IFEC system is highly customisable and inclusive, taking into consideration unique passenger requirements, such as visual/hearing impairments or challenges to mobility. Don Buchman, Vice President of Viasat, said, “Our goal is to ensure United’s customers are fully connected and enjoying their on-board connectivity and entertainment experiences.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.