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SKYTRAC’s #WomenInAviation Series: Penny Sims, FAA Accountable Manager and Receiving Inspector at ACR ARTEX

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Women of Aviation Worldwide Week (WOAW) is a global aviation awareness week for females across the globe. Originally marking the anniversary of the world’s first female pilot license on March 8, 1910, the week is a call to address the gender imbalance in the air and space industries.

This week we will be featuring remarkable aviation professionals from across the ACR Group of companies that make us succeed daily. We would like to thank every woman in the ACR Group for their ongoing support, and #ChooseToChallenge the status quo.

Here is a highlight on one of our talented team members from ACR ARTEX.

What is your current role at ACR ARTEX?

My current title is FAA Accountable Manager and Receiving Inspector. I consider my role to be a leader, teacher, contact with aviation regulatory associations, auditor, inspector, trainer, first responder for repair and overhaul, amongst other things. 

What brought you to work in aviation?

I was working in Alaska in the Timber Industry. In the 1990s, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) went into effect eliminating trade barriers between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. This ended up causing the company I worked for, to go out of business. Through a re-training act that was attached to the bill, I became eligible to select a new career. When I explored a list of career possibilities, Aviation Maintenance piqued my interest, as I have always been drawn to non-traditional careers. After reviewing a presentation of the program, it seemed the perfect choice for me. I relocated and entered the world of Aviation.

How long have you been part of the ACR ARTEX team?

This is my 24th year with ACR ARTEX.

What do you find rewarding about your work?

The most important reward is knowing that we build products that help save lives.

What do you enjoy and find challenging about working in aviation?

I like that Aviation feels like a community or family. They look out for and help each other. I personally enjoy helping others grow, learn, and become who they can be. The challenge is that there are a lot of rules and regulations that need to be followed which required significant training. It can be challenging to find the time to get everything completed within a certain timeframe. 

What has been the most challenging obstacle in your career journey? How did you overcome this obstacle?

One of the most challenging obstacles in my career journey has been being accepted while being compared to others and sometimes treated differently because of it. I overcame this obstacle through perseverance, hard work, kindness, and being trustworthy. I aimed to do so with one person at a time. 

What advice would you give to your 15-year old self?

I would tell her to believe in herself (even when no one else does). Follow your heart (even if no one else understands the path you have chosen). Trust your instincts (most of the time you will be right). Do not compromise your values (nothing is as important as your reputation). Remember to be kind to others (even when it’s not returned). And lastly, never, never, never, give up. 

Why is gender diversity within the industry important to you?

It’s important to get to a place in the industry that will provide an equal opportunity for everyone to pursue their dream no matter what their gender is.

What would you tell young females interested in joining the industry?

If this is your dream – follow it! Expect that at times it may not be easy. However, if you’re looking to make a difference, Aviation is a very rewarding industry to work in.

Do you have a mentor or idol in aviation?

In my first Aviation position, I was working as a Technician in an Aircraft Engine Overhaul Shop. It was a small shop with only about 10-12 employees. Over half of them took me under their wing at one time or another. I owe so much to each and every one of them. When we went through downsizing and when I was on my last week, one of the people who worked in the office handed me a phone number and asked me to call it. Every day of that week I was asked again and again to call it. Finally, on Thursday I promised I would call before the end of the day. I called and set up an appointment. The following Monday when I showed up for my interview, I was hired at ARTEX. I have been with the company ever since. She is the reason I have had a career here at ACR/ARTEX. I owe her most of all. Every year on my work anniversary I say a prayer to thank God for sending her.

What are some valuable life lessons you have learned while working in aviation?

Always do the right thing – someone’s life could depend on it.

Rules are there for a reason – follow them.

Your education will never be complete – things are always changing.

Your reputation is the most important thing you will ever have – protect it.

Learn from mistakes – yours and others.

There’s no shame in not knowing – Ask questions and find the correct information.

Don’t work off old or incomplete Instructions/data – It can lead to mistakes, lost time trying to figure things out, and ultimately maybe even someone’s life.

To learn more about Women of Aviation Week, please visit https://womenofaviationweek.iwoaw.org/

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