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Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mary Anne Cannon, vice president, Quality and Environment, Health & Safety at Pratt & Whitney, was the morning keynote speaker at the Society of Women Engineers Region F conference. The event, held on the campus of Western New England University, included a career fair, professional development sessions and more than 25 workshops and events aimed at collegiate and professional members of the Society of Women Engineers.

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Stacey, for that introduction.

I was pleased to get your invitation to join you for this Region conference today because of the great work the Society of Women Engineers does and the support it gives, especially, to young women starting out. At the outset of my career, my membership in SWE was instrumental, in part because a woman in a technical field was much less common. Today that is not the case. Women are increasingly drawn to technical fields, and we are succeeding in a broad range of roles, including leadership. At every level, women engineers now have a unique place and voice within the engineering industry.

It is an honor to be asked to share some of my experience with you as you enter this exciting field. Since most of you are students, I will tailor my remarks to focus on my experience as I put together a plan from the early days of my career.

I am sure most of you know Pratt & Whitney. If you have taken a plane anywhere – if you flew to this conference – chances are your aircraft was powered by one of our engines.

We are a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, auxiliary and ground power units and small turbojet propulsion products. The company was founded by in 1925 by Frederick Rentschler with a revolutionary radial engine design, the 425-horsepower R-1340 Wasp, whose performance and reliability changed American aviation.

We have a proud history of engineering innovation through each generation - from the R-1340 powering of the aircraft of Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart, and many other record flights, all the way to our latest innovation, the PurePower® geared turbofan.

Today Pratt & Whitney continues to be a leader because, as we always have, we remain focused on the long view to ensure that our products, which have life cycles that are measured in decades, not years, have the highest quality throughout their long years of service.

If you want to learn more about Pratt & Whitney, as well as opportunities at other divisions of our parent company, United Technologies Corp., there will be a booth at the career fair that you should visit this afternoon.

Pratt & Whitney has a roadmap of its strategy that every employee knows about and has access to, and each department has their own local roadmap of a strategy that feeds the overall company roadmap.

We employ a system we call Achieving Competitive Excellence, or "ACE" for short, that I will talk about in a couple of minutes. We use tools and methodologies for consistency, and we also have written Standard Work so that our products are designed from concept through development to perform flawlessly, no matter what environment or conditions they operate in. We do this because our products operate all over the world and are maintained often by their owners or second parties, but still they have the Pratt & Whitney brand on them. So we need to make sure that no matter what, they represent Pratt & Whitney standards.

We are also employing new manufacturing technologies, including additive manufacturing. Many of you know what additive manufacturing is and are already working with it. Essentially, it is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. It is sometimes known as 3D printing. It is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.

Additive manufacturing technology is rapidly spreading from one industry sector to the next. It is gaining popularity especially for spare parts, and for re-engineering parts from 3D scanning so that repairs can be made even if parts are obsolete.

For our products, an excellent example of how this innovation is being applied can be found at Munich-based MTU Aero Engines, our partners in the new engine for the Airbus A320neo who are one of the first companies to use the new technique to produce borescope bosses using selective laser melting, or what's known as SLM.

This application is very exciting and just one example of how we are exploring additive manufacturing and other innovations.

These and other innovations are helping Pratt & Whitney solve the kind of problems that characterize the 21st century.

In fact, the issues of this century make it a very exciting time to enter a technical field. The role of the engineer has changed, and in order to drive innovation in the 21st century world, we need engineers who can function as part problem solver, part problem "averter."

To address issues such as global warming, the limited availability of natural resources, requirements of emerging markets onto a world stage, engineers will need more collaborative skills, greater diversity, and the ability to interact cross-culturally - talents your generation has already begun to demonstrate.

One of the main 21st century concerns for a company like Pratt & Whitney is sustainability. As we approach our 100th anniversary, in the year 2025, we announced last summer at the Paris Air Show that we have launched aggressive 2025 Sustainability goals that touch every element of our business –– a true reflection of our "People.Planet.Power." campaign.

At Pratt & Whitney, sustainability means integrating environmental and social issues into the business model as part of our commitment to customers, employees and the communities where we live and work. Simply put, we do well by doing good.

Pratt & Whitney's global sustainability goals focus on Waste, Energy, Water, Safety & Wellness, Materials, Suppliers and Products. The company's sustainability improvements to date demonstrate a record of leadership, achievement and commitment.

Our goal is to be the aerospace sustainability leader, and we are seeing some great results as we aim for our 2025 goals. For example, since 2006, we have reduced our total industrial process waste by 30 percent, or 14 million pounds. A garbage truck can hold 22,000 pounds of waste – picture a reduction of 650 garbage trucks full of waste.

We are also optimizing our energy use, with an eye toward reducing greenhouse gases by a total of 80 percent. Since 2006, we have reduced greenhouse gases by 30 percent in our factories.

Another example of progress is water: we have reduced water use by 39 percent or 368 million gallons.

We are also taking steps to ensure our engines are 100 percent recyclable at the end of their life. Our products will maximize the amount of recycled or reverted metals and contain no materials of concern.

And we are enlisting our suppliers in our efforts to follow a code of conduct that includes resource conservation, ethics, labor guidelines and safe workplace requirements.

Pratt & Whitney has invested almost $60 million in more than 800 environmental projects since 2006 and demonstrates its leadership in global sustainability through its innovative products and services.

These sustainability issues matter a great deal in the 21st century. Our global markets are focused on them, and it is also a talent retention issue. You probably don't need me to tell you that when people look for a good fit as they evaluate career moves, they look for organizations whose values match their own. Today, employees care a great deal whether the products and services they make contributions to have a positive impact on the planet and on society.

Moreover, addressing these issues for future generations on a planet that is getting smaller by the day is quite simply the right thing for Pratt & Whitney to do.

I mentioned ACE a few minutes ago. ACE is our operating system to ensure world-class quality in our products and processes. Through its application, we ensure consistent, repeatable high quality approaches to everything we do, including a relentless focus on increasing efficiency and reducing waste. ACE is integral to the company's performance model. Facilities worldwide are using the ACE operating system to improve quality and customer satisfaction while lowering cost. It also helps enhance quality of life at work and engages our employees so that they feel their contributions are valued.

ACE is built on three main elements:

  • • A culture and philosophy based on the teaching of the late Yuzuru Ito, the company's advisor on quality methodologies. This is institutionalized in our Ito Foundation training program.
  • • A set of tools that helps the organization identify process improvement opportunities, solve problems and assist with decision making processes.
  • • The competency, commitment and involvement of the entire organization.

But what does all of this mean to you, an SWE member? As I said earlier, while it would be great if Pratt & Whitney had the chance to capture the talent in this room, I've been asked to share with you lessons learned from my more than 25-year technical career in the hopes that you will find something valuable to apply to your own success.

It is true that the career prospects for young engineers are very good today. According to a recent U.S. News and World Report article, the job picture will only get rosier with the aging of the baby boomers. Half of the engineers in the power industry are going to be retiring in the next five years. However, even in this promising climate, the best way to succeed is to develop skills that help you manage for the long term too: Focus on training, technical certifications, and varied assignments. Formal education is also very important, especially in today's world. When I started out, you could launch your entire career with a bachelor's degree. Today, you need to understand not just the technical aspects of the product, but also the competitive advantages and the business case for bringing it to market. A master of science or engineering degree will help you advance through your technical career, but an MBA is recommended if you want to get into a business leadership role.

Having said that, after I was asked to speak to you today, I did some research. I realized that engineering is not only a good background for technical careers, but also for leadership careers at companies where products and markets are increasingly high-tech in nature.

At Pratt & Whitney, I realized, engineering has become a base to launch to other disciplines – e.g. global supply chain (GSC), quality, technical career (Fellows), etc., because it grounds you in our technical product.

In fact, currently multiple Pratt & Whitney Executive Committee members have education and early career in engineering: These include our company president, Paul Adams, as well as the vice president of information technology; the president of Pratt & Whitney Canada, John Sabaas; the presidents of our Commercial Engines Aftermarket and our Military Engine businesses; and me.

Also, the vice president of our global supply chain organization and several program managers in both Commercial Engines and Military Engines all have engineering backgrounds.

This demonstrates the power of Engineering as a career. Cultivating leadership skills and business acumen, coupled with an engineering background -- with its technical understanding and problem-solving approaches – can lead to a rewarding career.

For my own part, after I started my career in engineering and moved to quality, I navigated a path using focus on results, follow-through, and communication.

The best advice I can give you based on my experience is to keep your eyes open for the right opportunities. Be flexible, but you should form a 1-year plan, and then that short-term plan should feed into a 5-year plan.

Planning is the key, as it helps you to make sure you do the prep work around your 5-year plan. I remember wanting to lead our F119 program group, but to do that, I knew I needed to become a supervisor because I had not cultivated my leadership skills. So I looked for opportunities to do that first. I spent seven or eight years in engineering; then I moved to operations for that experience. Later, as a discipline chief, I wrote standard work for Systems Engineering Validation.

Skills you need to develop will include project management/time management/knowledge assimilation. No matter what level you are at in your career, you need to understand how to get the right level of information/knowledge to make solid business decisions.

In addition, as you enter the work force, seek out mentors who understand the expectations of leaders within the organization you are working for. Mentors are vital not just for their technical experience, but for helping to identify, plan for, and navigate the specific paths available to you as you build your career.

It is not my plan to talk for my entire time because I want to give you a chance to ask questions. I hope I have set the stage for a good discussion, and I am happy to hear from you now.