In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re profiling influential women in aviation to gain insight into how they navigate through a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Vice President of Talent
As JetBlue’s vice-president of Talent, Rachel McCarthy oversees all aspects of hiring and developing talent across the company and plays a critical role in strengthening JetBlue’s culture.
Rachel has more than 25 years of experience within the airline industry. Her career began while she was in college, interning at Air Canada in the United Kingdom. She then worked for Delta in the UK, Germany and Atlanta, Georgia, and spent several years with United Airlines, in Chicago, before joining JetBlue in 2009 as director of Product Development. More recently, she was responsible for leading JetBlue’s 3,500+ in-flight crewmembers as VP of Inflight Experience, before moving to her current position in February.
In her spare time, Rachel enjoys running and shares this passion with the community as a board member for Girls on the Run, an organization that helps young girls build confidence through health and fitness.
Frequent flight: LGA – MCO (JetBlue University, the airline’s training facility for new Crewmembers, is located on the outskirts of Orlando)
Now reading: Marathon Woman, Katherine Switzer. It’s about the first woman who officially ran the Boston Marathon – she had to register as K. Switzer. I’m running the Boston Marathon next month so I’m reading it to prepare.
IFE standby: Route maps
Favorite airport restaurant: McKenna’s on the Fly at Long Beach Airport. There’s a patio so travelers can enjoy a meal outside while waiting for their flight.
Female role model: Emmeline Pankhurst. I was born and raised in South East England and she was one of the British suffragettes who chained themselves to railings so that they had more time to speak about why women should be given the right to vote.
Why did you become involved in the aviation industry?
I’ve always loved flying and traveling. As I child, I was fascinated by the hustle and bustle of the airport. I’m also passionate about hospitality and customer service, which are important components of the aviation industry.
How influential are women in today’s aviation industry?
I don’t really look at it as women versus men. But women do have an important voice and a different perspective to share. I’d say we’re influential, and our influence is growing.
Does JetBlue spearhead any initiatives that encourage girls to consider a career in aviation?
We actually just hosted our “Fly Like a Girl” event at JFK. JetBlue Crewmembers (at JetBlue, that’s what we call all of our employees) brought their daughters to learn about different job opportunities in the aviation industry. While we’re on the topic, I attended last week’s Women in Aviation conference and there were a few nine and 10-year-old girls there with their fathers. They will probably be strong leaders one day.
“I attended last week’s Women in Aviation conference and there were a few nine and 10-year-old girls there with their fathers. They will probably be strong leaders one day.”
What did you learn from your experience as a mentor in Women Unlimited’s LEAD Program?
I mentored several women working in various industries. It was interesting to see how similar the challenges faced by the different women were.
What would your advice be to a young woman interested in a career in your field?
Go for it. If you’re passionate about aviation, and you study and work hard, it’s going to pay off. This industry is never dull, you get to meet interesting and diverse people along the way.