Q&A with Dr. Christine Izuakor - United Hub

Q&A with Dr. Christine Izuakor

By The Hub team, March 06, 2018

United's Dr. Christine Izuakor laughing

In honor of Women's History Month, we are sharing stories of the inspired and strong women of United, like Dr. Christine Izuakor. Christine, Senior Manager – Global Security Strategy and Awareness, teaches and inspires our global workforce to be security-savvy at work and at home.

1. Who is a woman who has inspired you?

So many women have inspired me in different ways. Instead of picking one role model to look up to, I take my favorite qualities from several women (real and fictional) and merge them into one powerful superhuman being that inspires me every day. For example, I'm influenced by my mom's generous spirit, Oprahs wisdom, Olivia Popes fashion sense, Mandeep Grewals presence and character, Blair Waldorf's work ethic, Michelle Obama's poise, Onika Marajs unapologetic nature, and my big sister, Chika Izuakors, boldness. These women, and many more, inspire me every day to strive for greatness in all areas of life.

2. What challenges have you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?

One thing I struggled with throughout my career was confidence. I always questioned whether I was intelligent enough, eloquent enough, pretty enough, stern enough, or valuable enough to matter. I felt like I needed to be perfect in order to truly succeed. This mindset changed through the emotional intelligence work I mentioned earlier. I learned to love the person that I am today and the person I am striving to become tomorrow. I realized that I am the only human being that can determine my worth and I know that I am more than enough. Period.

3. Who at United has helped you succeed?

One of the reasons I love working for United is because it feels like such a supportive family. A few United women who come to mind as really making a difference for me include Emily Heath, Nathalie Cordeiro Nunes, Sharon Grant, Jessica Kimbrough, Diane Lieb, Mary Hickey, and Silvia Prickel.

4. What's the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is that I get to inspire and influence people to think differently about cyber security inside and outside of the company. Beyond work, I'm also very passionate about cultivating the next generation of talent and love that building our cyber talent pipeline is a part of my job.

5. What advice would you give to girls or other women to help them succeed?

One of the best things I've done for myself and what really changed the trajectory of my life, was understanding emotional intelligence. I was raised to be emotionally illiterate and avoid the perception that "women are too emotional". I embarked on a journey to understand what made me who I am today, identify the limiting beliefs that were holding me back, and truly learning that I have a choice in how I live every single day no matter where I came from. What I learned in the process is that there is so much value in those emotions and that feminine power is epic!

6. Is there anything else you'd like to say or any other stories you'd like to share?

Thanks for inviting me to respond to this! It was a great reminder of the importance of self-reflection on where I started, how far I've come and those who helped along the way, and the new heights I want to reach in order to fulfill my full potential and inspire other women and girls along the way.

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

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