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Aireon’s Women Who Rock(et): Katelyn Van Devender

In celebration of Women’s History, Aireon is honoring the achievements of some of the great women at Aireon and asking them about their experience working in aviation, a primarily male-dominated industry.

Katelyn Van Devender, Configuration Management Specialist at Aireon, has been with the company for 2 years and works mainly in document processing, quality assurance and compliance.

Katelyn Van Devender, Configuration Management Specialist

What led you to your career in aviation?

I more “fell” into a career in aviation. When I moved out to the D.C. area, my goal was to work for the federal government – my hopes were to work for a Congressman/Congresswoman. In the meantime, I accepted a job at a law firm and ended up working my way through various positions there. I eventually realized I still wanted to work for the federal government and accepted a job as a government contractor that worked on AC-130J missile systems. That was my introduction into the aviation industry (though it was more defense systems), but it wasn’t until I started working at Aireon when I really began my career in aviation.

Can you explain a bit of the work you do at Aireon?

I’m a Configuration Management Specialist in the Engineering Department and celebrated my two-year anniversary with Aireon a couple weeks ago! My regular tasks include processing documentation, managing changes to the system, and assisting in quality assurance and compliance activities as needed. It’s a lot of communicating between various functionalities and working to ensure that any changes made are properly risk-assessed and documented.

What inspires you and why?

In short – I’m inspired by learning. I love learning about people and what they do, and their passion and energy inspire me to continue learning about others and myself. I often think about all ways we connect to other people, or the similarities of seemingly distinct subject matters, and finding those connections reinforces my drive to learn.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a women starting a career in aviation?

Oof. There are so many pieces of advice I would love to give. I think if I had to choose one right now, I would say that even in times where you feel uncomfortable or feel that you might be in over your head, speak up. There are many times where I have a question or have a point that I think needs to be made but feel that it is unimportant or “above my paygrade”; I remind myself, though, that I do bring value to the conversation or topic at hand and even if the response is a dismissal of what I bring up, that itself provides value – speaking up has now become a learning opportunity.