Meet Shandra Jackson
U.S. Navy Veteran At
The Boeing Company – 787 Industrial Engineer
Location: Everett, Wash.
Team: Commercial Airplanes
Of the five options selected for Shandra Jackson through the military job placement test she took in high school, “aviation electrician” sounded the most interesting. But transitioning into the role and U.S. Navy lifestyle itself didn’t have a smooth takeoff. It would take getting used to—and good at—being flexible. She had gone from living with her family in Spokane, Wash., to attending boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., and deployments out of ports in San Diego and Norfolk, Va., on unfamiliar ships. Every assignment varied by repair and aircraft.
“I thought if I resisted change, it wasn’t going to happen,” said Jackson, now a 787 program industrial engineer in Everett, Wash. “But there was nothing I could do about it. Trying to lead with a positive attitude when there’s nothing in your control is the one thing you can do for yourself.”
Once she became more accepting and positive toward shifting tasks and locations, Jackson said work became easier, in part because her team was more willing to work with her.
“Instead of banging your head against the job for eight hours, someone shows you how to do it in four,” she said. “Nobody wants to give you feedback or insight if you come across negative all the time.”
Jackson continues to use this insight as an industrial engineer who helps with Lean processes, scheduling jobs and assessing the way mechanics work on myriad parts of the 787. She said her experience not only helps her relate to the mechanical engineers whom she supports, but it also informs her approach to getting them what they need, as many of them have exhibited the same resistance she once had. Luckily, she knows how to approach that challenge, too.
“I let them know that I have hands-on mechanical experience, and having that bridge to relate helps build trust,” she said. “I definitely don’t say, ‘This is what you should do.’ I say, ‘Here’s an idea. What do you think of it?’ It helps us see where the other is coming from and gets us on a path to a solution together.”
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