A Monthly Publication from Citrin Consulting
A Woman Aviation Magnate
February | 2012


IN THIS ISSUE

Courageous Leadership

TED Talks

Build Your Resilience

 
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Courageous Leadership

A Woman Aviation Magnate

In 1913, when Olive Mellor was 11 years old, she was so adept at financial management that her parents put her in charge of their family's finances. It was only a matter of time before she would be running a billion dollar corporation.

After mastering her family's finances and obtaining a degree in office management, she went to work for Travel Air in Wichita, KS. This amazing little company had 12 employees, four of whom would go on to build three of the greatest airline manufacturing companies in the world (Lockheed, Cessna and Beech). Olive Mellor met and married Walter Beech, and her path and expertise led her to become an aviation pioneer and changed the way that great industry grew.

Like many entrepreneurs of the late 1920's, the Beech's thought the sky was the limit and after building and selling their first airline company, they decided to build another one that became Beech Aircraft. Caught in the throws of the great depression, they were in need of some fancy marketing for their fledgling company. In 1936 Olive came up with the idea of entering one of their planes in a cross country race and while she did not fly the plane her idea of placing an all woman crew in the cockpit guaranteed news headlines along with something that surprised just about everyone — The Beech aircraft known as the Stagger Wing made the trip in 15 hours and 30 minutes and beat the next competitor by 30 minutes. Soon after that, Beech had their first successful plane that brought in over $1million in revenues.

When World War II started, Beech aircraft took off and the company grew to over 14,000 employees. In 1940, Walter Beech was struck by a serious illness and hospitalized for nearly a year. During this time, Mrs. Beech guided the company through much of the wartime production of military planes. She was adept at both the financial and people side of management. In order to secure sufficient operating capital she arranged over $83 million of syndicated loans from over 36 banks, insuring sufficient operating funds to maintain production. She also became known for a series of flags that she flew around the office that indicated the successes or challenges the company faced during a particular time. Her flags ranged from a "Oh, Happy Day" flag sporting a bright yellow sun, to a black-field bannered crying sun that said "Woe." When asked if the flags reflected the mood of the company's business or her mood her answer was "both."

When Walter Beech died in 1950, Mrs. Beech, at age 47, took over the reigns of the company as President and Chairman of the Board, the first woman to head a major airline manufacturer. Under her guidance, the company took on a range of projects including providing a component system for the Mercury Space Program and developed over 13 varieties of military and commercial planes from propeller to jet engines.

Olive Branch received many honors in her lifetime. She was on the cover of Business Week in 1956, was named to the Aviation Hall of Fame, acknowledged by Fortune Magazine as one of the most influential women in business in the 1970s, and in 1980 she received the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, aviation's highest honor.

Olive Beech never thought she was doing anything extraordinary in her life. Interviewed late in her life, her advice was sage. "If you enjoy your work, all you have to do is be capable and take the pitfalls along with the good...I understood the work that needed to be done and we did it."

 

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TED Talks

The Inside Story on the Miracle on the Hudson

Everyone's heard Sully Sullenberger's version of that miracle when he landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River.

CEO Ric Elias tells what it was like sitting in seat 1D and how it changed his life. Three amazing observations that may help change yours. Check it our here.

 

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Build Your Resilience

Do you know anyone or any organization that is not experiencing significant stress. Our old models of dealing with stress are not working and employee productivity, morale and commitment suffers as a result. My model of Stress Resilience provides an up to date approach to helping people embrace stress and use it to their advantage rather than having it work against them. My model is featured in the current edition of Employee Benefit News a trade magazine for HR professionals.

 

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