My guest for this episode is Gwladys Keubon. Gwladys and I talk about what it means to be a leader, how her leadership experiences led her to Boeing, and what she does as an engineer. Gwladys majored in Chemical engineering at UC Davis and is currently a Human Factors Engineer at Boeing. At the time of this interview, she was a Materials and Process Engineer, which she'll be referencing later.
What Got Her Interested in The World of Chemical Engineering? [01:44]
How Did She Find Black Engineers Association and Her Groups at UC Davis? [08:51]
What Makes a Good Leader According to Her? [15:28]
How Does Her Leadership Experience Benefit Her Full-Time Work Over the Last Few Years? [17:36]
What is her Job Description at Boeing now? [22:21]
What Was the Best Thing that Happened to Her? [26:44]
What Kind of Work is She Doing Here in California? [34:46]
What Type of Emergencies Does Her Department Deal With? [35:35]
What are Her Plans for the Future? [40:59]
(Show notes from our interview have been edited for clarity and brevity.)
Gwladys Keubon 0:10
I'm not afraid I deserve to be here. I'm here but inside, you're just shaking. Are you gonna call me now? Like, you know, are they gonna love me for my accent or they're gonna think I'm not smart because of this, this and that.
Kimmiko James 0:24
I remember towards the end of my freshman year when I first started experimenting with computer science, and I basically took this class I would go to for office hours and CS building baseband computer. One day during his office hours, the lines were particularly long, and there was this girl in the back sitting at one of the main desktops asking questions from the desktop, she never left her seat to stand in line, and a TA would have to come to her at a time is actually a bit frustrating. But this person would actually come to be glad it's one of the best leaders I've known during my college career. And someone that would introduce me to Black Engineers Association or campus, the club or work that would change my life for the better. Gladys majored in Chemical Engineering at UC Davis, and is currently a human factors engineer at Boeing. The time of this interview, she was a materials and process engineer, which she'll be referencing later on. I'm excited to share her story with you, and I hope you enjoy.
Hello, and welcome back to the Black Enterprise Network podcast that shares stories of black professionals and tech and entrepreneurship. And this episode glass and I talk about what it means to be a leader, how her leadership experiences led her to Boeing, and what she does as an engineer at the company.
Gwladys Keubon 1:43
It's one of those days, I was like this project, or this homework is due tomorrow. And whatever I got to do to get this done, I will do it. And I probably showed up there and just took a computer and I was like I need help with this. And I'm gonna ask as much as I can, you know, when you when you tell me the story, it makes me actually realize how much how confident I am. So one thing about me is that my first language is English. So I was born in Cameroon, and I grew up there till I was 1213. And for reason, I can kind of tell you the reason but my family moved to America, because one of my brothers, two brothers, one of my brothers had a health problem. And it was virtually impossible to heal him in Africa, if it weren't, and it was gonna be extremely expensive versus when you have a life threatening disease here in America, there are so many programs and so many amazing doctors that can really my show hope in helping you get into however best they can get you to. So my brother had that. And my father really worked really hard to make sure we can, he can bring him over here. And the process went bad it was applying for this thing. It's called the Green Card Lottery. And based on what the short information I have about is that depending on like if your countries have third week, third, third world countries, second world country, there are a certain number of people every year, they're given the green cards in your country. And when you expect the actual lottery, you apply a scholarship, right? Why you should be receiving this potential Green Card from America to actually become a citizen. But you're very much you're doing a lottery based 1000s and 1000s of people apply and maybe like five people get it every month. So my father's died for us and the way you apply to you apply what you're finally so if you're married, you will put your husband, your wife, and your children, if you're single, you're just put yourself so it really works. And it just it's very theoretical, it's very well put together. And if you're lucky, you're fortunate to get it you are able to come to you're given a year to prepare to move to America, where you will be given residency. And when you're given residency, you have five years to eventually become a citizen if everything you're doing you're not doing anything illegal, you paid your taxes, you know, wilding, basically. And so that was actually how my family came here might not apply for that for almost three years. But he was very dedicated because of the way my brother was with his health care. So coming to America, it was it was one of those things that I actually didn't even realize you were really gonna move. I thought my brother was gonna go with my father and then he was gonna come back and my father was like, oh, no, we're all going I'm like, No, daddy, we're not going up my friends and family here. And as you know about me, I'm very family oriented. So when I mean friends, I mean college, high school friends, and a bunch of friends, but also mean cousins and grandparents. I was like, I'm not leaving here. Like, I'm going to whatever this country is, and all my cousins are like, Are you like Loki? Crazy. This is America, like everybody wants to go to America. So it was one of those things that when I came to America, I was like, I don't want to be here. And coming to America. You have to learn English. Well, no, you have to learn English but I coming from Cameroon. I mainly spoke French and a couple of dialects from my parents side of family. And so I spoke French and I am coming to America. My dad was like, You need to learn as much English as you can. And I was like, Yeah, sure that he will do that. I promise we came right up to summer. And something about me is that in the summer, I don't study, I don't do anything related to learning. So I was just goofing around with my cousins. My grandparents house when my father was already in America for he was speaking before we did. So coming to America. I didn't speak English, and I had to learn it here and coming to college come to UC Davis. I'd only been in America for four years at that point. And and so when I was in Davis, when I got there, I was like, okay, so I chose chemical engineering. I chose engineering. And I chose over engineering, well, the hardest major, how am I going to pull this off, but the fact that I just wanted to say, what, four years ago, it was one of those things I was really struggling with beginning and coming also to engineering, right? There's not enough minorities in terms of like race, but it's also not minorities in terms of gender. So you've come to this place where even you don't see a lot of people like you and then for me, I always struggle at me my brothers always talk about this is that we almost feel like we're not even we're more we're more alienated. And some people because we have we have half of our nationality is being African from Africa. And other half is being raised in America spending being most of your teen and you this was done in America. So you you struggled with with that because you go to school, you go outside and you live the American cultural life, but then you come back home and you live in the African cultural life. So it was definitely a struggle with a lot of like, things even to this day, I still have this issue where a lot of things such as like TV shows, so my friends are like, all my friends in the room right now. And she's constantly asked me Do you know this show? Do you know this movie? What do you even know? And she she gives me a hard time. She's laughing right
now. But it's just that the different culture that we that you have. So when you get to college, you're very like, added to me and I definitely know people are like this. You're very like you like you're very courageous, but you scared like you you give this front of like, I'm not afraid I deserve to be here. I'm I'm rightfully here, but inside you're just shaking. You're like, are you gonna call me yo, like, you know, are they gonna mock me for my accent? Are they gonna think I'm not spar because of this, or this, this and that. So when you tell the story of me having no diversity to be sitting, sitting in the back and asking question, I'm just like, that was really me like, was that you sure that was this person here? But I don't I'm so sorry for annoying you that day. I hope I hope I pay I made you feel better at some point. But that was one of the rare times you ever see me like I'm very quiet and very calm. I'm very like, I'm just trying to make sure I'm not screwing up something that just tried to be courageous every day. It's not easy for sure. Yeah,
Kimmiko James 7:58
no, no, thank you for explaining that because I was a freshman. How would I know any better like I mean, now even as a senior I commend you for doing that. It's not easy to ask questions, especially when when all the like I said all the other kids have laptops, but you don't have one. It's like, good on you for asking. Like I would feel so out of place and awkward at stationary and having to constantly get up. You didn't even get up you just yesterday, trust. But I just a follow up I would have on the alienation part is just how did you you know, branch out with that confidence and find Black Engineers Association? Because for me, you found me. But when you first got to Davis, how did you find your groups?
Gwladys Keubon 8:51
Absolutely. So oh my gosh, you know, this is like a hobby. So I tell people I said to everybody the reason I graduated with an engineering degree and a reason I'm an engineer today is because of Nesby there was a national study of black engineer, and I Davis UC Davis, where we went to the a black engineering Association. And the reason I say that is because when I when I left for college, I got to college. Why did I choose my major? Why did I choose engineering? Honestly, I chose engineering. So it was like it is not English. So I don't have to stress too much. It's math. I have been doing math, no small. I like physics. I like chemistry, I can do everything is there for English. So for me, it was like engineering is as high as I can challenge myself. And you know, and not feel like I'm completely going to be just like a joke at this. So that's kind of what hired chose engineering. My parents don't really have that background. My mom is a writer. She was actually a screenwriter when we were in Cameroon, but now she has changed her career. And my dad works in the oil industry. So but they both had to change your career more or less. So engineering for me. It was definitely something that I was like, You know what like, I feel like I really like Matt and I feel like college should be somewhere that I should challenge myself and I'm gonna gonna pursue that route. So I definitely that's how I chose engineering and getting into Davies. So something about me that was so I'm so grateful I did this. But for every everybody does a first generation, first generation, minority woman, anything, anything that fits into that first new introduction to college, I highly recommend that they apply to or tour an extended program for their orientation, not just the regular 3d orientation. And I know a lot of university handles, my brother went to UCLA and have that another one's going to Cornell. And they have that too. So UC Davis had that too. And that program was called step for us. And that's the program I attended. But basically, during that orientation, that's where I was introduced to all the different clubs, those on campus will basically four weeks and I really got to see what the campus was about. And I really got to see other programs. So I was introduced to Nesby. At that point, somebody came from this B and talked, and I'm pretty sure it was either Ryan or Tyler Titus. I think you know, these people. Oh, yeah, I can name right now. And also Sinclair and she had met Sinclair, but there's also another way another girl named Sinclair. So those those four people, I'm pretty sure I met one of them, or more of them during my time I stepped. So when I started university, I actually started when Coach actually started, I had this idea of like, okay, I met this program, student, mentors clubs during the orientation, I'm going to try to join in and participate in it. And in my head, that was a plan freshman year came and college was hard. And I was like, okay, you know what, I've no time. I just want to study get good grades, and it's about so my entire first year as she was involved in nothing, nothing at all, because I she did not have time just getting into school, getting because you call the high school, you have straight A's no problem, you get to college, and you're like, why am I getting C's and ds? And like, Yeah, sure. I both failed this class. And like, that was definitely what was happening to me and my friends and almost different friends. I don't I don't remember a lot of us going into like clubs right away. Like, I think we went to the first like meetings where you know, free food. It was like, yes. But after that, it was like, Okay, we have to really study and we have to be to get our grades together. We didn't get into the groove of like college, and especially David supporter systems. So you go from semester to quarter, everything is just like, boss, right? So the first year, I didn't get to join as B and joined Much, much of anything, but I definitely knew about it, the person to ask you to reel me in, I have to say was Nisha, so I wish I was in my major. I usually as a fellow IV graduate, and she is also a chemical engineer like myself. And she was, I believe, two years, my senior in terms of times at Davis. So she was a chemical engineer, and I had a class with her. And I believe she saw me the other thing that we graduated, and I'm just an 18. And my class, my chemical engineering class had 145 graduate. And I think there was only two of us to black individual person in our graduating class. So that is not even 1%. I can't really say that. So that was definitely when you see one of us you're like, Oh,
you're definitely that person, I definitely need to tap into it, because you don't know what you're dealing with. You don't know if that okay, though, okay. And that's always been the concept of v. And just making sure that you if you see somebody who's in your classes, just go say hi, just make sure that okay, and if they want some type of support, extended support, so you should have reached out to me, she was in the same class as me. And if you know one thing about freshmen or sophomore years, we're still very stressed. We're still very shy. So but I realized very quickly that I had a class with her. And if I didn't go to that meeting, I had to explain to her why didn't go to the meeting. And then
Kimmiko James 13:57
yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Gwladys Keubon 14:01
So I went to the meeting, and it was just perfection. So that's kind of how I got hooked into it. I definitely wish I joined my freshman year, but joining my sophomore year was still good. And from there on, I really quickly realized there were a community I was like, oh my god, this is what college should be like, This is what this is what I wanted to call it. So it was just so hard. Heartwarming, it was so great. And, you know, it was just, there was no one of us even at that meeting. But I knew that I wanted to be part of that. And I think I can't remember if any, if I deviate after that I just tended as much as I could. And eventually somebody reached out to me and they were like, do you want to be an officer? There's always officer position. And I was like, Oh yeah, why not? And I definitely I think that's why it took off for me. Yeah.
Kimmiko James 14:46
So what I appreciated about you during your your presidency was just like you're not only were you like super nice, even in times of like stress and stuff, but you were just super. You had just great leadership skills, basically. And I feel like those leadership skills translate into the industry, which we can probably get into later. But what do you think makes a good leader? You know, based on your campus leadership over? I think were you the president for two, three years? How long? Were you the president?
Gwladys Keubon 15:16
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, I was the president for two years. Yes.
Kimmiko James 15:21
Like three. But what do you what do you what do you think makes a good leader?
Gwladys Keubon 15:27
Oh, my gosh, I have to be honest with you, I strongly believe this is the way to go. I think a really good leader is somebody who there's a word they say it's a it's a call servant leader, a servant leader. And I noticed it's not good. It doesn't sound nice the year. But that's the way I view it is you are ultimately leading for the people, not for yourself, you know, doing it based on your ego, you know, doing it based on you have a vision, of course, but that vision is incorporate what everybody else vision is, and for me, so there must be a servant leader. I think one thing that I really love, and this is what I also love tech, and especially data science is that what I quickly grew to understand about leadership is that you are doing a good job when people are seeing the things that they want being reflected in the organization. So I felt like one of the biggest thing that we tried to we tried to do during my presidency is that we were doing a lot of surveys, and they weren't getting filled all the time. But at least I knew that the people that contributed and we were taking them permission to be providing us. So this sounds a bit like I was it was like lazy work. But ultimately, we really try to do our best to cater to the people that were in the org. And I think that's really where it starts, like, however you have a unit, interpret this in any industry you're in, I think, ultimately do try to be a leader, not for your own sake, not for how you want to look not for your image, not ego, not for any of that. But for the people that are putting it puts you in a leadership position for people that follow you. A lot of people really, really look up to people that are we can say these influencers, I know influencers say they're not role models, but the fact that a lot of people follow you, in many ways you are influencing the lives of the fact that people vote for you in many ways you're influencing your life. And I think if people start to realize that we will be living in a more humble world and a more happy world, I guess. So for me for sure. That's definitely a good like cocktail for a good leader right there.
Kimmiko James 17:24
And would you say that the experiences and leadership experiences you got from VA transferred very well to industry? Like, do you feel like it's benefited you over the last few years? You've been doing full time work?
Gwladys Keubon 17:36
Absolutely. Absolutely. So one thing that I, I'm not sure how we're going to go into how we're gonna move our career. But one thing I love so much about my company, is that I do a lot, a lot of work with kids. Even though we have been virtual. I've done at least two events with kids, I didn't want to the Compton unified district. And that was over 300 kids. And we also did one with Orange County, Long Beach, I live in Long Beach, Long Beach district as well. And that will also over 200 kids. And in the past, I've worked I've worked with in person, this has been virtual events. But in the park pass, I've worked in person with so many kids, I want point, one event that I went to where I spoken and did something related to engineering to really encourage your kids to go into STEM, I believe there was nearly 100 kids there. So one thing that I think for sure, leadership helps you a lot is in speaking and probably speaking, just the fear of it, the fear of not being afraid of speaking in front of somebody. For me, I'm very self conscious of the fact that I have an accent. I'm very self conscious of the fact that some words that I say I should say in like French versus English. So I'm very conscious of that. And sometimes I'm like I want I'm terrified. I'm like people shouldn't be the person in front. But then I tell myself that they're there to listen to me that you know, they know that this is my career, this is the work I do. And it doesn't matter that I'm not, you know, speaking fully in the way they speak, I can still give them the message, I can still translate my work to them. So leadership definitely helps you in building that confidence, that public speaking skill, but also leading the room. Reading the room is so important. I want to tell you, yeah, that just makes me so. So like I almost teared up right now. But this makes me so happy. I remember when I started my career, when I started working at Boeing. I was actually working in Charleston, South Carolina. And when I was up there, I didn't have any family members. Again, I'm from Africa. All my family members are here in California and a few family members in Canada, but I've no family members anywhere else. But something that I really didn't answer in South Carolina was that I really wanted to reach out to more kids because I did see that more of us needed help. There's a lot of kids that just don't have the parents that is aware of the information that's out there and you don't have a they don't have a mentor and I don't have any of those information. So for me, it was so important that on those weekends on those days that I knew I needed to get into to do I would go to school When I talk to them, and I really come down to earth, and that's the thing was talking to Kansas over the people, it's reading the room and coming down to whether I, I remember one time I did this when we were the high school. And we had such a fun it was in high school, I think it was a junior high. But we had such a fun time. I supposed to be there for only an hour, I was there for three hours, and I want to leave and then do you want me to leave. And when I left, I was like, that was really lovely. And I thought that was the end of it. And then like two weeks after, I'm not joking to you, like six engineers at Boeing, like emailed me, because another event was about to happen, but I actually hadn't sign up for it because I was going to travel. They were like, glad as we heard you were amazing with this kids. The teachers raved about you, the kids read about you, what did you do, we want you to give us all the tea, we're about to go in there. And we just want you to give us all your secret. And now it was so easy to me because I'm a newly I'm a new engineer to to the company, I really feel like I don't know that much. And having the senior definitely they're all above me and hired, well educated all the different thing which had to me and and reach out to me and be like, You do such a great job with this class, you they raise a bunch of you once you tell us how to do this, it was like, wow, like that was that was such a that was such a that was really moving for me. And I actually kind of had a classroom where I show them and told them everything we did, and really, I guess made them understand that it was all about, I'm really reading the room and telling the kids working with a kid working with people and where they're at and getting them to a place to get passing the message along. So I would say leadership had had such tremendous, tremendous impact in my career in my personal life, in my entrepreneurship, everything truly leadership, I would say it's definitely a good thing to tap into.
Kimmiko James 21:45
Yeah, it sounds like you're really passionate about mentorship and teaching people things, especially like the younger generations, which I feel definitely amazing to teach them engineering early on. Because you know, it makes it easier to love it when it's really difficult. So so Yeah, appreciate all the work you're doing and not not to jump around. Because I feel like what I would ask would kind of go with later. But you know, what are you doing at Boeing now? Like, are you doing chemical engineering work? Are you doing some software work? I didn't know what to make of your LinkedIn because you know, I'm just used to the basic software engineering stuff. So
Gwladys Keubon 22:22
yes, yes, yes. So I'm gonna definitely make this into a story. Okay. So we kind of started by you saying, Why are you taking a computer science class? And then why were you in the, in the study room asking questions from a computer. So this is this is actually in my story. When I was at Davis, my first year I finished it, I went off to do a summer job came back. But that second year, I'm starting to feel the internship bug. So it was like, okay, maybe I should get an internship. And I was a chemical engineer. And the reason that she was going to apply engineer Oh, I stuck with it here is because I my intro class, I was told this is a major where you can basically work everywhere. They said, chemical engineer, it's like the periodic table. If a company used any element of the turntable, you can work there. And even beyond that, so that was definitely was like, oh, like the possibilities are endless. And I think that's such a great thing to tell a young Christian person because it really takes away from all that like special, but am I choosing the right major? Am I doing this? Right? So that's gonna have ticket I was like, what, what am I doing? I supposed to have this major appeal today, like, I could work for water company, I could work for oil company, I can work for Tech, I could be everywhere. So that was definitely how I took that message. And I honestly lived it because my very first internship was actually at an energy company tech company. And actually in Davis, it's in the West Village. That's where I did my first internship. And then my second internship was at a winery, and it was in Napa Valley winery, and I was not 21. And my father was like, why is my 21 not not 21 year old daughter, one winery. I could not drink wine because I wasn't legal. I went to this media, they will let you eat everything and never tasted all these wines all around the world. And I was like to smell delicious.
That and so and then my third internship was in tech I worked at I worked at Intel and the Intel in Portland. And I was working at Intel in Portland. I was doing data science. I was doing data analysis, basically, I was constantly to come and engineering in the sense that in a sense that it was I was I was coding. I was analyzing data that came from chemical labs, because when you're making microchips, you're using a lot of chemicals. Those chemicals are quite toxic. And for a company like Intel to operate in a city such as such as it was actually Hillsboro, but it's a very residential city where people live there. You have to make sure that you are getting the government permits that you're not emitting chemicals that is potentially harming the city and the people around you. And for that to happen. then you have to get every chemicals in the lab tested at all time. So there's a lot that comes in. And we wanted to also mitigate. And just we wanted to get those data from the once we send that information to them get to state about and really see what we can tap into to really minimize the chemical impact and just all these things. So it was very environmentally friendly. But it was a data analysis job. And this is a big reason I was taking the computer science classes because I knew I was going into that internship, something like that, and you always wanted an internship. And when I was going into my internship, I was terrified because I was like, we ruin my experience. So far. It's MATLAB, I've no other expense in terms of coding, and I might be doing a coding internship, I won't be doing a coding internship. So that was definitely a reason why I was taking them design. I was taking computer science class, even though as a chemical engineer, and it was it was great. Honestly, I highly recommend that if anybody is slightly interested college is that one place where you're not charged by the class you're taking. And they really go slow in teaching you everything. So I highly recommend taking a class as sort of your typical major if, if you feel like you have the time and the need for it. So that was a reason I was in class with you. But I one time, but yeah, so my, my career so far has when I was working in energy, I was more so like a consultant, I had to do a lot of survey and wood buildings around the city, about their energy consumption. And it was bringing that data back was it solely about data analysis. And the second internship was more so mechanical engineering. When I worked at a winery, it was mostly kind of go engineering. And then I into it was very data very data driven. Yeah, I don't know, I don't know what title was, but it was definitely data driven. And then afterwards, at Intel, I got my full time job at Boeing. And I also had a full time job offer with Intel, and a couple other companies. And the reason I chose Boeing is very much so for the work I was going to do going manufacture planes. Basically Boeing is pioneers and playing anybody that's coming by now it's behind them and using a lot of intellectual property from them. But normally this morning, plane boys make spaceships so you have the Polo, polo something can read all the names, but yellow spaceship that Boeing created. The way also things work is that NASA would design a spaceship, and Boeing would build it, or Boeing and NASA would collaborate with our engineers and building things. Now we have SpaceX that's in the industry. So now I'm not I could work with them, and also SpaceX to do their own and JetBlue JetBlue jet something and so also boys are going with planes, spaceships, satellites, submarines, that's not too common anymore, and none that we're big into, you know, what the future is gonna hold. They're definitely looking and making flying flying cars are a big one. I think ultimately, they're really trying to utilize the, you know, the sky space to do a lot of things. So, you know, some of our CEOs are talking about how can we make flying ambulances, we do have helicopters that do bring people from hospital hospital when that need is there. But I've even do like ambulances, and all these things. So just utilizing that upper space or not utilizing because down here, you know, you have type traffic's and all this thing. So that's, I think what the company is going forward, including expanding globally, right, you have Boeing that over 100 years old companies when when all company, but it's actually a company that hasn't had too much into like Africa, the African continent, and it's actually something that I'm very passionate about. Now, it's definitely a country, a company that hasn't tapped to there. So that's also another place that they want to tap into. competitor is tapping into there as well. But they're definitely tapping everywhere. So that's definitely kind of what the companies is building towards. And the reason that I really want to work for Boeing was first of all, I got my I got my job offer a suite of Women Engineers. And I honestly went to that in to that conference with a with a with a mission.
And when I really wanted to get as many interviews as I could buy, and I really wanted to do well and aiming there having I was like, Yes, I did it. The reason I was so dedicated as always, because prior to that, I had attended a couple of Nesby conferences, and I saw Boeing there all the time. And to me when I always met going, I don't know if you saw them ever at conferences, but you know, we've been talking quite a bit in Nesby you just saw them were the bomber jackets and everything and
Kimmiko James 29:31
yeah, they were nice, Jackie.
Gwladys Keubon 29:34
Thank you. Like I'm like, I can't take credit for that. But I always saw that I always saw how they're just like always waiting. They were just very friendly to each other. It felt like a huge a big family. I almost looked at him as like a BA like you know, in industry incorporate. Of course like Nesby is a bunch of you know, it's all of us but boy manager always stand out to me. And I've also just like wow, like they're making plans Like, I love playing like I'm a nerd, I'm a nerd at heart, I love playing when I think I'm playing. That's the complexity of having something so big, you know, carry so many people and so much weight and travel so far and at the speed that it does travel. To me, it was always just my like mind blowing my mind boggling. So it was definitely an industry that I really, I really admire, and also seeing just that culture they had. And when I say I looked at, boy, I also interacted with them. If I saw a boring person by themselves, I would go in and be like, Hi, like, my name is Vlad is like, I would just be very common, I really want to interact with them to really see if it's not like a facade, that's being shown if it's also in industry, and I always got some positive vibes, I really got some positive vibes. And that was something that I can attest to you today, I've been the company for two years, more than two years now, it is present is definitely present. So that's definitely how I really want to work at Boeing, when I got my job offers, video was like, Okay, this is what I'm going to choose. The one bummer at first, it felt like a bummer was the fact that I knew I wasn't gonna be in California, I knew for my job offer, I was actually going to go to the south and I had never been to the south. And, you know, you have all this, you have all these things that are in the media about the South, and you're like, oh, and you, you know, your West Coast person, you're like, Oh, this is gonna be a family member that to some people have family members, though, somebody that didn't go, but I was like, Okay, this is this is gonna be an interesting thing. And a lot of friends, a lot of good friends. You know, some of them were like, What are you doing? Like, why do this yourself, to be honest with you, that was the best thing that happened to me ever. It was just that pure, it was a pure exploration time that pure like, just go out there, you'll be fine, you have a solid job, they're gonna take care of you in the sense of like, you're never gonna be broke. But it was like new completely somewhere new, what you really want to get to know the people you want to establish yourself and people to trust, you want to trust the people. And at least you speak the language at least I didn't have any language barrier there. So I feel good going. So that's what I did. I left and I went to Boeing to work and satellite Na, and I was so the job the work I was doing. There was very emotional starter P Boeing, even though Boeing is already building planes and all these things. Boeing is constantly innovating their planes every year, not every year, every other couple years. So there's constantly new projects, there's constantly new technology, some planes that you fly, something that it's on planes, some Boeing planes, or you will be on your, you won't see as much technology and then some of the planes, you'll be on your but you'll see way more technology, it just depends on the model it is It depends on the year that it came out. So we're constantly creating new models, and constantly upgrading that and getting to the previous model. And the reason that the work I was doing Sakana was very was very startup is because it's actually not the land is much cheaper for the company. So when they're trying to create flying cars, which was a project she worked on. So we when we're trying to create new stuff, not when you work on planning, it's not just the technology aspect, right? It's not just the data, data collecting and all this computering it's also actually the material of the plane. So being a chemical engineer, this is actually where my role taps into most planes in the past, the best way I can simplify this is think of a balloon, a balloon, like a birthday balloon, that you put a computer like a docking station in front of and you give me some wings, and you put people inside and you send it ultimately your plane is a pressure vessel. And you are it's a pressure vessel, and you're putting people in it and you're guiding that forward. So one thing for us for my team or for my work is doing a lot of research to that we're using new materials don't less heavy. And that's actually one of my my main job is to use different alternative materials to metals, that could be our use on playing to lighten the weight event, but still have the same performances. So that's actually the kind of work I was doing a lot. And it's not just playing social satellites are satellites in the past, were made out of metal, but now we're making them out of composite material, aluminum, things that we can go in depth another time, but it's very much so that whole periodic table aspect of things. So it comes full circle to what I was thought in the beginning. So it's very much so using using all the elements in the world, really researching alternatives. And also biggest thing about planes is that there is a mission. So how do you make it more environmental friendly?
How do you make all these different things? So there I do a lot of work in that sense. And it wasn't just planes. It was also spaceship. It was a project with the government that I can talk about. But it was that I really I'm so grateful I had my hands on. And it was just it was just really, really great. After nine months up in South Carolina, I rotated back to California where I'm at right now I'm in Southern California, specifically Long Beach. And over here I do a bit of a different work, not really doing startup the work anymore and I think kind of miss it. I'm doing more support role, my current role is to support airlines. So a lot of airlines, I don't know if you've ever experienced this, have you ever been on the plane and is about to take off the territory to get out of the plane because something is wrong with it.
Kimmiko James 35:14
I feel like it happened maybe once, but usually what always happens is are supposed to take off, and then they say we have to wait. And then that weight on the plane turns out to be two hours. So I don't know if they're related. But yeah, I've had something happen like that.
Gwladys Keubon 35:34
Absolutely. So those type of emergencies come straight to us, because something is happening to the plane, that the customer their airlines isn't, doesn't know how to deal with it. And they're just like, boy, you're the manufacturer of this plan, it's behaving a certain way, please fix it, a plane has an average plane has over 3 million parts, those parts are constantly interacting with each other in this constant something happening. So my job is very much to be an expert, a research expert to airlines when they are in terms of in times of crisis, such as that, we really don't get those a lot. Those are called airplanes on ground. But we do a lot of work in helping our airline customers and fixing so many different issues or things that come up randomly, or we don't have a pre solutions to it. It's this constant evolution with planes every day, honestly. And so my work is basically being an expert, I research expert and providing knowledge that we already have community over the years to the customers when they need it, or coming up with new information, new result resolution for the problem that they're giving us at that moment. So that's what I do right now. But I'm actually about to switch role in about, in about two months, I got a new job, somebody to sit row and I'm super excited for my next role, I can't fully tell you what it is. But it's still gonna be with customers, I really my dream, my ultimate goal is to definitely get to a position where they're much so I can't say manager, but doing something and doing something in leadership in terms of aviation, especially in that African continent, European continent, I definitely want to be able to tap into the that side of company, because one day we're present, I will try to grow. So why don't we put up with growth? So that's, I think what I hope my my, my career leads me to, yeah,
Kimmiko James 37:25
yeah, yeah. Like, what I appreciate about your story is that like, I feel like it's common for people to fall in love with the idea of a company like say, people fall in love with Google, they really want to work at Google, or people fall in love with Facebook, or they fall in love with Microsoft, might we both know Microsoft's good company. But you know, that's just an example. But I feel like for you, you know, he did your actual research in the sense that you got to know the people at Boeing multiple years, at these conferences, you got to know what the vibe was like, You got to know the culture. And you also fell in love with the industry that they're in. And I feel like people's careers would go a long way if they did those two things in terms of research, rather than just falling in love with the clouds of Google or similar insert name company. But that's why you're so happy about it. These people and you, you you love the industry, because you're talking about it, you're just so passionate about it. And yeah, I appreciate that story.
Gwladys Keubon 38:25
You could have said you could have summarize it better. You really You really did summarize it really well, I have to be honest with you, I have a lot of friends that are working at Google or Microsoft. And I asked them like, you know, not to ask them, I won't say ask them but I do know that some of them are working that because it is cool to say that I work at those companies versus I definitely think that like you want to be able to to fulfill your job shouldn't be your whole life. That's something that I feel like we see it up that concept, but I think you should be passionate about the kind of of what you're doing for the people for me, I'm so so so proud to be able to say that you know, thanks to the work that I do takes the work that people in my company do people and millions of people every they're able to, to travel discover the world connect with family members, packages are deliver at different things. It's bringing the world closer, reliving the very big world and things like plant planes and spaceships or allowing us to have satellites and, and just really reconnect. And I know we're still distancing because we have social media, that's sometimes not helping. But I think that that aspect of just making the world smaller, I feel very proud of that. And that actually is the reason that I feel like I am able to be happy. Because not only do I that makes me really happy knowing that makes me happy. I'm also teaching that to a lot of kids. I'm also able to tell that to not just kids even growing up even though people I'm able to tell that to them and be like hey, you know engineering is hard. It is challenging, but to be fully honest with you. I have I literally work People that are like since I was five years old, and you just do the job I wanted to do. And you're like, how did you get the job I was gonna do and they were like, well, I'm so passionate about spaceship, I'm so passionate about planes I've seen in TV, you really want to have that kind of passion for to really do some other work because it is challenging. I work in research that we're constantly creating things will come soon discovering things, and then things aren't working the way we want. But it is overall, I'm still really happy and very proud of work I do. So I do encourage that people do do that, for sure.
Kimmiko James 40:32
And my last question would be like, do you, to me, it's kind of hard to answer when, especially when I ask people in the Gen Z millennial age range, it's kind of hard to get this answer. But I guess I would say what do you think you might have planned for the future, whether that's going into higher up management role, or even starting a company of your own? Or even doing what I think you'll do someday? Something for social good?
Gwladys Keubon 40:58
Oh, my gosh, absolutely. What about all of it? I like that idea. One thing that I would say is that I for whatever reason, I was busy in college. So I managed to tap into a lot of things. When I was in college, I started to start up shift fees, I went to a startup weekend, and I had a an idea back then. And went to start a weekend and was there for two days and actually ended up being the winner with my team and getting all this it was it was it was crazy. And so long story we can talk about another day, maybe you want to talk about Sell, sell startups, I can join you guys, I didn't know that. But you know, we were very well rewarded. And a couple of reasons why it's not going. So I definitely had a taste of that I have a taste of like what it would feel like to have an idea and want to you know, push it to the world in the world potentially liking it, then building from that, and then absolutely social good being for so long. And then also leaving VA and being part of other things and see how much you're quite good at it. It's kind of scary. And like, I'm like, I'm actually really good at this. Because again, division also can be stressful, let's let's be honest with that. But I always managed to do pretty okay on on that. So that's why I'm saying all three do not sound horrible to me, my view of what I want to be tomorrow, I'm gonna sound a bit cheesy. Oh, my God, so So is saying this, but I'm gonna say it, I do have a high in my life. When I see my life, I do see myself being a career woman, I do see myself being married, I do see myself having kids, lots of kids. I love kids, I just wanted to let some kids and I really want to travel a lot, I do speak another language and just speak other languages. Now, unless you're learning Spanish right now, finally. But I do want to travel a lot too. So you have all these things that I want to do. And I think that it's very important to, to realize that certain you can't sometimes can't have it all. Sometimes you can, but everything does have a sacrifice. So I will say that I do not know fully what I want to do. But I'm definitely not a stagnant person, I'm gonna say don't be stagnant. Don't be afraid. One thing that I can see with my own career, when I look at it is wow, like I went from, from doing energy to doing winery and thinking I'm going on my own winery one day to doing tech and thinking I'm going to work in tech, and I'm going to be you know, in tech, and then leaving tech and coming to aerospace, every single industry I've been in, I honestly generally thought I was going to be in that industry for for a very long time. And then to be where I'm at right now I'm like, okay, like, this is definitely what I want to do, especially when I when I think about the fact that I do want to have that, that impact. I want more people, I want more of us to be able to get into this industry, when I talk to kids, I really do see that there's an interest in you know, working on planes were amazed by it. But the reality is that I might be within them for an hour. But then they leave the class to listen to zoom, and they're exposed to everything else that doesn't encourage them to be an engineer, you know, basketball football, which is awesome and great. But I really wish there was more exposure to you know, that's been background to people outside of just classrooms, and sometimes presentations like such as these. So that's where I want to, I want to say I have some business ideas. I think I was mentioning it to you. I'm going to tap back into those and we're doing some money right now. I will say it's huge. I guess it's used for search for something I'm passionate about. It will fit into my schedule, this new role that I'm getting is I'm so excited. It's not even just like a row. It's something that I know what tension they send me to Euro so I'm really really hoping that that does happen. And just everything else personalized news, just pushing so that those things that I really do see myself being one day they'll do do come true at some level. Yeah, so definitely catch me up in five years. 10 years 20 You
Kimmiko James 45:01
know, yeah, yeah, I plan to do multiple guest follow ups, you know, throughout the years of coming. But yeah, Gladys, thank you for coming on sharing your story, sharing your passion for leadership and what you do. So, if people want to find you and follow your journey, where can they do that?
Gwladys Keubon 45:21
Definitely. I'm very active on Instagram. But you can definitely find me on LinkedIn. I'm always available to talk to somebody for an hour or two. I know that really wouldn't help so we have to mean every every form possible, but I would say you can quickly reach out to me on Instagram. Yeah, I think it was also great. Such an honor being on your on this podcast.
Kimmiko James 45:44
Our next guest for this show beach anassa Ocula, computer science PhD student at Cornell. We talk about artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence ethics and micro investing. See you then