Making an impact on Canadian lives, in the air and on the ground
Deborah MacKinnon was working in telecommunications when she decided she wanted a new challenge.
“The chance to work with a future-focused Canadian company, with a global reach, was exactly what I was looking for,” she recalls.
Her search led her to aerospace firm CAE Inc., where for six years she has been managing projects and programs, and now leads the Maritime Helicopter Program.
CAE’s Integrated Information Environment (IIE) was developed as a solution for the Canadian Forces to maintain its new aircraft, the Cyclone, that will be replacing the old Sea King helicopters. The Sea King relied on a paper-based system, Deborah explains, whereas the new system is digital, automated, and the first of its kind to be employed by the Canadian Government to maintain an aircraft like this.
It was a tall order, but the opportunity to lead a group focusing on updating tried and true systems to a more modern, more efficient version was right in Deborah’s wheelhouse.
“We have brought everything online, in a way that is easily accessible to everyone involved with the Cyclones — from aircrew to the maintenance team,” she says.
“It’s a comprehensive system that even includes training programs. It’s pretty cool that we’re able to integrate everything into an environment where we can all communicate and work together.”
The new system will also allow for a reduction in paper and printing, she says, which has a direct impact on the environment. As an avid outdoorswoman who enjoys sailing, snowboarding and gardening, sustainability is something that Deborah remains passionate about.
Do speak up and do share your ideas, don’t sit on the sidelines. When you speak up and lend your voice to a room, amazing things can happen.
She is also working to move the needle and attract more women to the defence and security industries. As a woman with a leading role in an innovative company, she says she hopes to serve as an example, especially for her coworkers.
“I’d like to think that as more and more women are interested that the industry is learning the value of what women bring to the table,” she says. “Even if you’re the only woman at the table, make sure you come to the table. Do speak up and do share your ideas, don’t sit on the sidelines. When you speak up and lend your voice to a room, amazing things can happen.”