Women in the GSE Industry

Women within GSE share details of how they got started in the industry.

Telford brought innovation to the industry through her prior experience as an adjuster for workers’ compensation claims. She brought her knowledge of workplace injuries to the patents of a sideshift cab and conveyor bag chute. “That’s how I came up with the idea of the patents, because after we started my company I saw how many people got hurt lifting luggage and other items. Shoulder and back injuries were and still are the most common injury,” she says.

The patents have gained momentum in the industry — they have been installed in 175 locations in the last year and a half, Telford says.

From inspecting the bridges to selling the equipment, Telford has engaged in all aspects of the business. But such an aggressive and somewhat perfectionist attitude has proven challenging at times. “That’s my problem; I can’t seem to delegate, because if the quality is not to the customer’s and my standards, the problem falls back on me and my company. So in most cases, it’s easier for me just to do it,” she says.
Telford says the industry has continually presented itself anew. “It’s exciting,” she says. “It’s never the same thing. You get to meet different people; you get to deal with different people all the time at different levels.”

Telford revels in the fact that she is one of few women in the industry. “I like it because I’m a woman and you don’t run into many women in the airline business,” she says. “It’s kind of being an exception to the rule.”

A Passion for GSE
“It always fascinated me, being in the industry,” says Jody Lonergan, corporate GSE manager for Continental Airlines.

Lonergan began her career in aviation with Continental 18 years ago as a secretary in ground support operations. She held multiple positions within operations, including regulatory training, before moving over to the equipment sector seven years ago.

In her current capacity as manager of corporate GSE, Lonergan is responsible for the global inventory of GSE, environmental emissions standards, capital procurement and facility maintenance — to name a few.
In her experience, Lonergan says proving her credibility has been a consistently challenging endeavor — one she has thrived upon. “It really is almost a daily thing, which is good because it keeps me challenged and keeps me up on everything that’s going on in the industry, which I think is great,” she says.

At Continental, Lonergan says her team has constituted a combination of men and women. “We have counterparts and peers within the Continental organization that we all have mixed duties and responsibilities and it’s comprised of a mix of men and women, which I think is fantastic,” she says. “We each bring our own strength to it.”

A passion shared
A unifying theme, the women have voiced dedication to their work in the industry. It is dedication bred by genuine fervor, perhaps best articulated by Lonergan. “We are very passionate about what we do, we truly enjoy what we do day in and day out,” she says. “We know that there are thousands of ramp agents out there that if we don’t do our job, they don’t have the equipment, the plane doesn’t turn, the customers don’t fly.”

That’s a sentiment that likely resonates across the industry at large for both men and women.

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