Q&A with Sharmila Gade - United Hub

Q&A with Sharmila Gade

By The Hub team, March 16, 2018

Sharmila Gade speaking at an event.

In honor of Women's History Month, we are sharing stories of the inspired and strong women of United, like Sharmila Gade. Sharmila, Senior Project Manager - Sales & Commercial Strategy, champions projects that improve United's sales effectiveness.

1. Who is a woman who has inspired you?

I was born and raised in India. My mother is the primary inspiration and influence in my life. My mother did not have an opportunity to go to school as our family is into farming. She always encouraged and influenced me as much as she can that allowed me to break the social barriers and societal stereotypes. Education is a fundamental right and I highly value and encourage women's education and economic independence as it is still perceived as an unnecessary indulgence in many parts of India. I have couple of degrees that includes Masters in Mechanical Engineering, degree from Stanford in Advanced Project Management and I am currently pursuing Executive MBA at Kellogg school of management and I am certain the journey does not stop here

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

I started my career as a Mechanical Engineer in a shop floor environment back in India for an automotive company where you stand for hours on the shop floor surrounded by men and machines. This experience was very challenging and intensive but certainly helped me later on dealing with plant and assembly line environments when I moved to United Sates and took a job in Supply chain at Daimler Chrysler. The whole supply chain process helped me draw parallels and shape my strategic thinking and execution of projects programs very efficiently and effectively which is very similar to assembling a car end to end on a line station. The biggest challenge was for me to understand the culture in United States and thrive as member of the team and build relationships. But I overcame this challenge by being an empathic listener, learning about other people in ways that enable them to appeal to their unique needs and sensibilities. I trust my skills, gut and intuition and leverage these strengths as a woman in a strong and a powerful way.

3. Who at United has helped you succeed?

I joined United as an independent contractor and helped implement Transatlantic and Pacific JVs in Alliance space and got hired in 2014. I have collaborated with many leaders and my peers and team members during several project discussions and gained valuable inputs and insights from all the project stakeholders and this helps make better decisions with a well-rounded view of the project and drive the execution successfully. I am always grateful to all the leaders and coworkers that I work with on a day to day basis for their guidance and feedback that makes me a better person and a leader. I am fortunate to be part of uIMPACT leadership team as a Treasurer for last 2 years and there is no other better way for me to contribute meaningfully for the purpose of women advancement.

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

The best of my job is to solve problems by collaborating cross functionally, analyze options, see the bigger picture, initiate projects and effectively convey that vision to all the stakeholders and get them onboard to execute it right to deliver value. Defining and executing a strategy in terms of programs and projects successfully is similar to climbing Mt Everest and successful teams that get to the summit climb as a tight knit group. They climb as one, summit as one and descend as one.

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

If people ever doubt and judge you how far you can go, go so far that you cannot hear them anymore!

This quote really applies to my life story.

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

I proudly own my story, my trials, tribulations and accomplishments so far and I believe I have lot more to achieve with integrity and courage and pass on the torch to my amazing daughter and many more aspiring women! I am proud of my 10 year old daughter who got selected for U.S National Level swimming and I am super excited for her!

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.

United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

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