We are very excited to welcome Nancy Walker to the SmartSky team as our first Chief Commercial Officer. A veteran of the aviation industry with over 30 years of aerospace technology and inflight connectivity experience, Nancy will be a valuable addition to SmartSky as she leads our network-related sales and marketing efforts.
“Nancy’s experiences and skills are a perfect complement to the existing SmartSky executive team. Her unique background enables her to understand the intricate details and interdependencies of IFC system engineering, program management, contracts, customer service, and customer support,” said Ryan Stone, president of SmartSky Networks.
Get to know a bit more about Nancy in this special extended installment of SmartSky's Fast Five!
How did you decide to pursue your career?
I LOVED math – it was like a second language to me. I decided to pursue what I loved and decided on either math or engineering. At the time, and probably still, I was considered a minority in engineering and was offered a scholarship with NASA to study engineering. I earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and a MS in Engineering Management. My Masters allowed me to study the business and leadership side as well as continue on with advanced studies in Electromagnetics and Optics – both heavily intensive in math.
What is your leadership or management style?
This is an interesting question as I don’t really see myself as following a particular leadership style. I have owned my own businesses through the years, as well as working in the government and commercial sectors. My working style follows the idea to "never give up” and that “failure is not an option.” It is not that failures don’t occur – they do every day – but we should never end on a failure. Failures are just opportunities to learn what doesn’t work – think of Thomas Edison, who tried 10,000 different materials before he found the one that worked for the filament in the light bulb. From a team perspective, I build empowered, self-reliant teams and my job is to help them do their best. I remove obstacles and help them accomplish all that they can. I am willing to make the hard decisions and balance the technical, program management, and business development with the strategic and tactical views always in sight that keep my team moving and focused.
“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” —Thomas Edison.
What books are you reading right now?
How many can I list? I like to multitask while reading.
- Rhinoceros Success
- Great by Choice
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
- Turtles All the Way Down
- 10% Happier
As a woman in aviation, what advice do you have for up-and-coming women in this industry, or for professional women in general?
Give it your all. Don’t be easily offended and don’t back down. Be willing to try different roles in the organization, focus on your strengths, and love people.
What is something interesting that people might not know about you?
I home-schooled my two kids from kindergarten through high school – one is finishing up her college degree on full scholarship and the other is getting ready to graduate with his high school diploma and Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree at the same time.
How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired?
One of my greatest strengths is competitiveness – although I never guessed it until I took a Strength-Based Assessment Test. I think I am always competing with myself to get it done – whatever the challenge.
If you could have dinner with one person, who would you choose and why?
Again – only one person? Red Adair – he fought oil rig fires and, when others would leave, he and his team would go in and extinguish the fire.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I love to spend time with my family and relaxing. I love to bike ride and spend time walking on the beach and being outside. My favorite vacation is hiking in the mountains.
Connect with Nancy on LinkedIn to learn more about her experience and start a conversation!