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On the Brink with Andi Simon

Dec 16, 2019

Learn how to lead and succeed, no matter your gender!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Chodakewitz about her own personal journey through aviation management, aerospace and defense work. It is unusual to find women in these industries. Part of our discussion was about this very topic: how do we get more women into the defense, aerospace and aviation industries? And why have these important sectors not been places where women felt they belonged? These industries are so dominated by men that women have a difficult time breaking in and staying relevant. Susan, however, created a successful career and now shares with others how she did it and why they should as well. Listen and share!Susan ChodakewitzSusan Chodakewitz is highly recognized as an accomplished and dynamic leader in business and government services, and her skills are in high demand, particularly when companies need to find the right strategies and deliver upon them in today’s challenging business environment.

In 2015, she became the chief executive officer of Nathan Associates Inc., guiding this premier economics consulting firm through a new phase of accelerating growth. Previously she was at Tetra Tech AMT, where she is credited with more than doubling revenue by building its human resources and market position. Before that, she spent more than a decade at SAIC, a major defense and national security contractor, where she almost doubled its revenue and directed a unit that reached nearly $200 million in annual revenue.

Susan and I discuss not just what she does but how she does it

Gender differences bring cognitive diversity to companies. Recognizing and capitalizing on this, Susan knows how to build and work with teams across disciplines, develop future leaders, and both spot and cultivate business opportunities. She is a strong communicator who has the ability to listen before she makes decisions, and on a strategic level, knows how to think about the future, create an action plan, and harness resources to make sure the action plan gets fulfilled. These are the very traits that women can bring to any industry—not just defense, aerospace and aviation—to help them sustain their growth in fast-changing times.

Some background on Susan Chodakewitz 

Strikingly, Susan is neither an engineer nor an economist. She came to consulting as a Soviet specialist, having received her M.A. in Russian Studies from Columbia University in 1981. After stints at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Library of Congress, she began her consulting career at Booz, Allen & Hamilton where she did a significant amount of work for the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. 

To learn more about what makes women leaders successful, check out this blog and 3 podcasts:

Additional resources