As Women’s History Month marched on, two members of the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) senior leadership team presented at events sponsored by the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) while a third participated in a panel discussion on female engineers sponsored by her alma mater.
On Monday, March 15, airport CEO Chellie Cameron joined Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian and SEPTA General Manager Leslie Richards in HERstory: Women in Leadership via Zoom. The women talked about the women who have had the biggest influence on their lives, how they are addressing COVID-19’s impact on women, racial equity and were asked to give their advice to men. The panel discussion was moderated by PHL Deputy Director of Aviation, Capital Development Api Appulingam, the president-elect of the WTS Philadelphia Chapter.
“This was such a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and engage in discussions that offer insight and education and hopefully are uplifting especially during these challenging times,” Cameron said. “There is so much happening in our world today and it was good to get together even in a virtual forum with Leslie and Yassmin and the great people at WTS to talk about these important topics and more.”
On Saturday, March 13, Director of Guest Experience Leah Douglas led a virtual tour showcasing PHL’s Exhibitions Program to the WTS Philadelphia’s Transportation YOU and the Student Chapter for youth interested in the transportation field.
Douglas did a virtual meet and greet with the students in the WTS youth program, which offers young women ages 13-18 an introduction to careers in transportation. Douglas discussed her own career path and walked from Terminal D to A-East, stopping at each exhibition location to talk about the artwork on view and the importance of the Exhibitions Program within the context of the airport.
“The purpose of the conversation and tour is to educate youth about the wide variety of opportunities within the transportation industry. Managing an exhibitions program in a major airport may not be something that comes to mind when thinking about careers in a transportation environment; this broadens their outlook and helps them consider possibilities they may not have thought about,” Douglas said.
On March 8, Api Appulingam took part in ENGINEERING RESILIENCE Stories on Life’s Journey sponsored by the Texas A&M University Aggie Women Engineers Network (AWEN). AWEN supports current and former College of Engineering students through professional and personal development. In her message, Appulingam, an Aggie alumna, encouraged the audience to 1) Believe in yourself because women tend to underestimate their abilities; 2) Say “yes” to opportunities - it might not feel like it’s the right time, but take the opportunity because it could lead to something extraordinary; 3) Ask for opportunities and work assignments that truly match your expertise - it’s the tough assignments that shines the spotlight on you and gets you noticed; and 4) Stand up for yourself - if something doesn’t sound right, look right or feel right, speak up. Also, speak up for other women and support the women around you.
“I hope I look back on my career and am truly happy with the decisions that I made and the people that I have helped,” Appulingam noted. “I hope I look back and know that I have done all that I can for women coming up behind me in STEM fields. I also hope to be a positive example for my two sons and show them that women can do what they choose whether that’s being a stay-at-home mom or a CEO of an organization.”