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CAREERS & the disABLED Magazine, established in 1986, is the nation's first and only career-guidance and recruitment magazine for people with disabilities who are at undergraduate, graduate, or professional levels. Each issue features a special Braille section.

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 Up, Up & Away

In many careers, with a dollop of grit and heaping cups of moxie, you can soar. But in the aerospace and defense sectors, you can professionally soar by enabling others to actually soar.
A global economy means that more and more workers and freight are aloft. Airbus forecasts air traffic growing at a 4.5 percent annual rate, requiring 33,000 new passenger and freight aircraft during the next 20 years.
Additionally, McKinsey & Company forecasts growth in the defense sector. Political instability in various regions could amplify that growth.
Perhaps, most importantly, working in these sectors is essential work, literally enabling people to get from A to B and to be safe once there…and back at home.
Read about several professionals who have found their niche within aerospace and defense, and who are striving to inspire and support others with disabilities and educate people about the skills they bring to the table. Plus, learn how all of the companies featured here - Boeing, MIT, UTC, CAE and CSC - value their talents.
Pak Has the Backs of Fellow Vets at Boeing
Boeing isn’t just big: It’s also America’s biggest exporter. And Boeing prognosticates like Nostradamus. When Airbus went big with the A380, Boeing went smaller and more fuel-efficient, anticipating the rise of regional airlines.
Then there’s Boeing’s history. It’s the company that manufactured some of the world’s most famous planes, from the 707 to the 747, from the B-17 Flying Fortress to the B-29 Superfortress to the B-52 Stratofortress, a plane that’s been flying for more than half a century.
Chicago, IL-headquartered Boeing is also big-hearted, taking corporate citizenship seriously and making multiple lists of best companies for employees.
Jason Pak is corporate citizenship specialist at Boeing. Pak was an officer in the U.S. Army who served in Afghanistan. He stepped on a 10-pound pressure plate IED (improvised explosive device) on December 12, 2012, losing both legs. He could’ve medically retired, but the call to continue to serve and support his fellow soldiers was too strong. Thus, his role at Boeing supporting the military by managing the company’s Washington, DC/Potomac region giving and engagement portfolio is perfect.
“I’m responsible for supporting the giving and engagement strategy for Boeing’s support of military veterans and their families, and implementing that strategy in the eastern region of the U.S. I work with non-profit organizations, veteran institutions and local community leaders to enhance community services available to veterans through charitable investments,” he describes.
Pak has gone through extensive rehabilitation, and now utilizes prosthetic legs. So, in his current role, he doesn’t just support the troops. He also supports the organizations that support the troops, some of the same ones that once served him.
“I chose this sector and profession because I felt this is an incredible opportunity where I can make a difference in the lives of other fellow veterans and their families. Giving back is an important aspect to me personally. I understand many of the great things these organizations are doing for veterans because I was on the receiving end of many of their services!” he reveals.
Just as Pak supports the military in his position, Boeing does, too - on a much larger scale. In fact, Boeing has a manufacturing portfolio that’s world class in depth and jaw-dropping in breadth.
“Our company builds underwater vehicles, airplanes, fighter jets, attack helicopters, missiles and space vehicles. No other company can claim they do as much as we do! The tremendous array of products and services that we deliver is beyond belief,” Pak asserts.
Boeing’s portfolio is a point of pride for its 153,000 employees.
“Our company is very passionate about what we do. Every single employee has pride and a sense of belonging in what they do. The things we do matter, and lives depend on it. To be a part of that is something you can’t trade for anything else in the world,” he maintains.
Boeing also supports its disabled employees, having earned a perfect 100 score on the Disability Equality Index in 2016. The DEI is a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN).
“Boeing is incredibly supportive of job candidates and employees with disabilities. The company has a robust accommodation services team and a simple, three-step process in place to provide accommodations that remove barriers to full participation for all,” Pak points out.
Boeing further delivers assistance beyond just accommodations. “The company also supports a business resource group focused on the disability community, with chapters at Boeing facilities across the company. The Boeing Employees Ability Awareness Association provides educational and awareness programs, networking, mentoring, and leadership and development opportunities. All business resource groups and their events are open to all employees,” he explains.
And Boeing’s support of disabled people reaches far outside its corporate boundaries.
“Boeing actively participates in and sponsors conferences like the [USBLN] and partners with organizations like the National Organization for the Disabled.”
Pak, like Boeing, has a long history of teaming with others.
“As a leader of soldiers in Afghanistan, I was quick to realize building trust with your soldiers and fellow teammates was absolutely vital to the success of the unit. By establishing that basis, I was able to quickly overcome the concern I had with being in a combat zone. I knew that my soldiers had my back, and I had theirs. That’s why I was able to survive my devastating injuries. I have absolutely no regrets and am happy it happened to me and not to one of my guys.”
Empowered by Boeing, in myriad ways, Pak still has the backs of his fellow soldiers.
Go to boeing.com/careers to browse Boeing job opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
Boeing at a Glance
Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the firm supports airlines along with U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. Boeing products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.
Getz Educates & Advocates at UTC
Because United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is a huge company with 200,000 employees and five business units, it makes sense Shelli Getz, human resources leadership program associate, has already filled three roles.
“As an associate of the human resources leadership program, I’ve had the opportunity to experience three roles in two years. During my first rotation, I was a diversity and inclusion specialist for UTC corporate headquarters in Farmington, CT. My second rotation was in Rockford, IL as a labor relations generalist for UTC Aerospace Systems. Currently, I’m in my third and final rotation in Palm Beach Gardens, FL as a recruitment specialist for the climate, controls and security division,” she explains.
However, Getz’s most important role might be giving UTC’s HR department essential insight in how best to support its disabled employees. She has a unique perspective because she was born with a bilateral hearing loss - profound deafness. Bubbles is her companion.
“I have a hearing service dog, Bubbles, from the International Hearing Dog, Inc. organization in Henderson, CO,” she notes.
Getz utilizes technology in addition to Bubbles’ help: “I wear hearing aids in both ears, I have speech where I speak for myself, I’m fluent in American Sign Language, I rely on American Sign Language Interpreters during certain situations, and I use video relay service for phone calls.”
On-going accommodations are expedited when Getz is her own, best advocate.
“At times a sign language interpreter was unable to attend a meeting or a video that was not closed captioned; it would be brought to the attention of someone in my network within UTC, who would help improve the process so it wouldn’t happen again next time,” says Getz.
“Educating others about my disability and service dogs was a necessity of navigating the challenging times. Most of the time people didn’t understand or didn’t know about my disability or about Bubbles until they’ve been introduced to us. I’ve learned to become an advocate for myself and for all disabilities.”
And UTC wants to accommodate because it recognizes the power of a diverse workforce.
“A diverse workforce at UTC drives innovation, elevating the ideas, perspectives and experiences of individual employees, while tapping into everyone’s abilities, potential and talent. All employees are valued at UTC,” she notes.
In turn, Getz loves working at UTC.
“I love working with the people here. It’s a collaborative environment where new ideas are encouraged and nurtured. Wherever I see an opportunity to improve a situation from an HR perspective, UTC empowers me. When I see the positives changes that I’ve made here, it makes me really proud to be part of the team,” she concludes.
Visit utc.com/Careers/Work-With-Us/Pages/default.aspx to view UTC careers. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.
UTC at a Glance
Employing nearly 200,000, United Technologies Corporation (UTC) serves customers worldwide in the commercial aerospace, defense and building industries. UTC’s businesses include Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, UTC Aerospace Systems, Otis elevators and escalators, and UTC Climate, Controls & Security, featuring Carrier heating, air-conditioning, and fire and security solutions from brands such as Kidde and Chubb.
Parravano Inspires Innovation & Champions Diversity at MIT
When Paul Parravano, co-director, office of government and community relations, was hired by MIT in Cambridge, MA, the educational institution leveled the playing field and gave him his shot.
“When I arrived here, people said, ‘Tell us what tools you need.’ And after that, they assumed that I’d get my work done and I liked that, that assumption of my competence,” Parravano relates.
MIT doesn’t just accommodate. It’s the original source of many accommodations that are common nowadays. “Many of the basic building blocks of accommodation were developed here. I use a lot of them myself, such as screen readers and braille devices. Computerized braille transcription was developed by a mechanical engineer here,” he explains.
If MIT is the king of accommodations, then it’s a rightfully humble king. “M.I.T. doesn’t presume that when a disabled person is hired, that MIT knows best what accommodations are needed. The hiree guides that process,” the co-director points out.
You might be guide, but you’ll tap expertise at its source, he adds. “If there’s a mobility issue, then there’s a group here that works on prosthetics: you’d be working at the source of many accommodations.”
If work in the aerospace or defense sectors draws you, MIT has a long history of working with industry and the Department of Defense. For example, its Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA is a federally funded research center that supports everything from missiles to wearable technology, developing novel, cost-effective solutions to complex government problems via technical excellence. MIT also supports diversity to achieve these ends.
“One of the best things about being here is being surrounded by young people and talented folks who represent the world as it should be. Half of our entering class is young women. You’re surrounded by a diverse student body comprised of people from all over the world. The community is so diverse, gifted, and creative,” he affirms.
Parravano is also reminded of MIT’s creativity on a regular basis.
“One really cool thing that’s a real benefit of being at an engineering place is I don’t have a semester go by when I don’t have students come by wanting to build something for me,” he shares.
“For example, I can’t cover my ears with a hat in the winter because I need to hear or I’ll get lost, so my head and ears get cold. Well, there are five young women overflowing with creativity who are creating a hat for me that’ll keep me warm and let me hear. That happens often here. I’m working with three or four different groups of students right now.”
But it’s a give-and-take relationship Parravano has with the students, who seek his perspective. Due to retinal cancer he’s been totally blind since infancy. However, the students need Parravano to communicate how he sees the world through his own eyes and interacts with it, in order to cast light on the challenges of darkness.
“Most of them aren’t blind, so they don’t always understand what would best serve me, but I love the conversations,” he says.
The students don’t just hack Parravano’s life. One group asked him to help sell an idea to venture capitalists.
“I opened their pitch in front of 1,200 students, faculty and venture capitalists. I had a block of wood with marbles that my father made me to teach me braille. The team wanted to market a new device to teach braille to children, so I helped show the quantum jump in technology,” he relates.
Want to work at a place that takes one quantum leap after another? “MIT is looking carefully for people who have an ambition to do their best, grow and learn and not just show up, but devote themselves to doing the best job they can. If you want to go to a place where you can learn as much from your workmates as your supervisors, then that applies here,” he underscores.
That imagination and creativity reach deep into the aerospace and defense sectors, from government contracts to cutting-edge research, all powered by diverse mindsets from diverse backgrounds.
“MIT is completely devoted to diversity. We work hard to hire people who come from different backgrounds. There’s a clear benefit when you have people from different backgrounds and experiences. That’s how you best solve problems. You see that at every level,” Parravano says.
And diversity at this diverse institution is always under discussion.
“You don’t go more than a month here without being invited to a discussion around disability,” he notes.
Log onto careers.mit.edu and www.ll.mit.edu/employment to look at MIT and Lincoln Laboratory jobs, respectively. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+, as well as Instagram and LinkedIn.
MIT at a Glance
Founded in 1861, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is an independent, co-educational, privately endowed university, organized into five schools: architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts and social sciences; management; and science. MIT has some 1,000 faculty members, more than 11,000 undergrad and grad students, and more than 130,000 living alumni. Its Lincoln Laboratory, which employs 3,325, is a federally funded research and development center focused on applying advanced tech to problems of national security.
Former U.S. Army Pilot Faraldo Finds a New Home at CAE
Erik Faraldo is a training solution expert at CAE Tampa, which is among the 60 sites and training locations in 35 countries Montreal, Canada-headquartered CAE teaches professionals in the civil aviation, defense and security, and healthcare markets.
Since CAE trains more than 120,000 civil and defense crewmembers and thousands of healthcare professionals worldwide, it was a natural fit for Faraldo, a former pilot in the U.S. Army, to join the global firm. He has plenty of company, too.
“Many of the people I work with are former/current/retired U.S .military, and what we do as a company supports the warfighter mission. Even though I had to retire from the U.S. Army, CAE still allows me to still be a part of this,” he explains.
Faraldo retired due to a stroke.
“One of the scariest moments in my life is when I had a stroke while deployed overseas in 2014. One moment you’re planning on the hand-off to the incoming replacement unit, and next you’re in the hospital scared, uncertain and not knowing what’s going to happen next,” he reveals.
“The doctors were unable to determine the cause of the stroke, and I spent my first weeks in San Antonio, TX trying to regain my balance and determine what was all affected. I also had to figured out what I was going to do next as I knew that my military career was coming to end,” he recalls.
Faraldo says what helped him “navigate through this period of my life was the support of my family and realizing that, all things being said, I was very lucky. I’ve also seen obstacles as challenges to overcome, and this event was no different.”
He could’ve medically retired, but CAE allowed him to continue to contribute.
“While I was going through the medical board process, I was brought on at CAE as an intern. CAE was extremely accommodating and flexible while I went through this process. This flexibility continues as a full-time employee, and I continue to grow with CAE as I’m presented new challenges and opportunities,” he notes.
Operation Warfighter was the key to CAE.
“Operation Warfighter opened the door to an internship at CAE. The Operation Warfighter (OWF) coordinator worked with me to identify and secure an opportunity that was the best fit, which reflected my interests and capabilities. This internship transitioned into full-time employment upon my retirement from the U.S. Army,” concludes Faraldo, who’s enjoying this next chapter of his career.
Follow cae.com/careers to find CAE career opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr.
CAE at a Glance
Founded in 1947, CAE is a global leader in delivery of training for the civil aviation, defense and security, and healthcare markets. It employs 8,000 worldwide, and operates 160 sites and training locations in 35 countries, including our joint venture operations, and the world's largest installed base of flight simulators. CAE annually trains more than 120,000 civil and defense crewmembers, as well as thousands of healthcare professionals.
MUST BE INCLUDED; photo optional; try to fit the At a Glance, if you’re fitting the others:
Chief Diversity Officer Candace Labelle says CSC recognizes how diverse perspectives improve problem-solving, something that’s deeply valuable to its business.
CSC Recognizes Inclusivity Yields Innovation & Success
CSC is a leading provider of business and IT solutions to global aerospace and defense companies. The Tysons, VA-based next-generation tech services and solutions firm also has some serious history in the aerospace and defense sectors, with more than half a century of delivering expertise in design and development, factory floor, supply chain and aftermarket.
CSC also has serious history in recognizing the power of a diverse workforce.
Candace Labelle, CSC chief diversity officer, puts it this way: “As a technology company, innovation is critical to CSC’s success. We know that diverse perspectives improve problem-solving and are deeply valuable to our business. The key to harnessing the creative minds and potential of our people is fostering a culture of inclusion, a place where everyone can bring their full selves to work, and contribute to their maximum potential.”
In addition, CSC offers diversity of career possibilities, she notes. “With 66,000 employees, operations around the world and a wide variety of clients, CSC seeks skills in all areas from technology for our clients to managing the back office of a large company.”
In turn, CSC uses to tech to assess its efficacy in incorporating disabled people into its workforce.
“To support our understanding of the value of diversity, CSC lines our policies and practices up to ensure we have the tools necessary to succeed in this space,” explains Labelle.
“We measure our progress against industry markers, such as the Disability Equality Index (DEI) and the National Organization on Disability’s (NOD) Employment Tracker. Tools such as these help us understand where we stand in the workforce marketplace, as well as identify areas for improvement. On that note, I’m delighted to report we score 100 percent on the DEI this year and are proudly one of the NOD’s leading employers.”
CSC’s success comes from the diversity commitment of those who hire.
“We have many managers who are very committed to making CSC an employer of choice for all employees, including those with a temporary or permanent disability,” she points out.
“Over the years I’ve worked with many employees with disabilities. I’ve always been impressed with the willingness our teams show to support and include these professionals: providing necessary physical, language or time accommodations, altering status quo approaches on activities for 100 percent team participation and input, and overall creating a safe environment where everyone’s voice counts.”
Due to CSC’s size and breadth of operations, if hired, you’ll find you can have more than one career in the same company. “CSC offers a wide variety of opportunities and career options. I’ve had five distinct careers in my time here, ranging from technical operations to back office philanthropic,” Labelle shares.
Go to csc.com/careersus to browse CSC job opportunities. Connect on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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