FINDING YOUR STRENGTHS AFTER A CAREER CHANGE: MEET MOLLY PITTS, SENIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE MANAGER

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Whether her inbox is filling up or a phone call is coming in, Molly Pitts has it under control.

 

For the Textron Aviation senior customer service manager, fostering relationships with everyone from colleagues to pilots is the best part of the day.

 

“People reach out to me from different directions every day,” Pitts, who is based at the company’s Indianapolis, Indiana service center, said. “My biggest asset to our customers and my team is communication.”

 

But it wasn’t always that way, she said.

 

Learning the ropes

Pitts began her Textron Aviation career as an intern at the company’s largest maintenance facility, based in Wichita, Kansas. During her internship, she served as a point of contact for Cessna Citation and Beechcraft King Air operators scheduling aircraft for maintenance and service. The role requires continuous communications with customers as maintenance is completed, which pushed Pitts out of her comfort zone.

 

“I was more of an introvert, and this job required me to talk to people and not be as shy,” she said.

 

Diving headfirst into a customer-facing internship for a large company was unfamiliar territory, but Pitts, who was majoring in aeronautical engineering technology at Purdue University, welcomed the exposure into a different side of the aviation industry.

I had to deal with all kinds of different situations and talk to people in different roles, often on the same day. I learned that I really enjoyed it. Molly Pitts, senior customer service manager, Textron Aviation

After graduating, she landed a role at Textron Aviation as a mechanical systems engineer, working on the certification program for the Cessna Citation Longitude, the company’s largest business jet. She focused on the jet’s doors, analyzing its systems, components and mechanisms as the aircraft went through the final phases of testing.

 

“That was a great learning experience for me,” Pitts said. “I learned a lot about each of the aircraft systems and how they all work with each other.”

 

After the Citation Longitude received certification, Pitts considered returning to the technical support side of the business. The prospect of a customer-facing role was exciting to Pitts. She wanted to continue developing her communications skills, but she was initially nervous about meeting the expectations of the job.

 

“Engineers can be quieter; a lot of us like to keep to ourselves,” she said. “I was more reserved.”

 

Capable of more

Pitts ultimately accepted an offer to join the customer service representatives (CSRs) team based in Wichita. The new role allowed her to take on leadership duties for the first time. As a CSR, Pitts managed a crew of aviation maintenance technicians performing everything from tire changes to full refurbishments on pre-owned aircraft.

 

“It’s a combination of project management, customer service and leadership,” Pitts said of the role.

 

The fast-paced world of customer support gave Pitts increasing exposure and experience, which helped her establish a solid reputation amongst her colleagues. After a stint managing the pre-owned aircraft crew, she became a CSR for small-cabin Citation jet owners and operators.

 

“I learned a lot about myself and becoming a manager,” Pitts said. “From dealing with conflict for the first time to speaking with customers, every day was different. I learned I was capable of handling a lot more than I thought I could.”

 

As a CSR, Pitts discovered she enjoyed doing what initially made her nervous: Communicating with customers. She thrived at understanding how specific customers preferred to communicate: some enjoyed short email updates about their aircraft, and others liked to have in-depth conversations with her about the status of the maintenance work scope.

 

“Communication is not one size fits all. You have to adapt quickly and understand each customer’s needs. I like doing that.” Pitts said.

 

 

“You’ll do better than you think”

Her experience strengthening relationships with operators and customers at a large service center eventually led Pitts to a location transfer back to her home state of Indiana. Today, Pitts is a senior customer service manager at the Textron Aviation service center in Indianapolis.

 

In her new management role, Pitts has a front-row seat to the world of aircraft operations and business travel. Customers now ask to work directly with her.

 

“I’ve met so many people in this role and learned about their lives when they’re not at the service center,” Pitts said. “After they leave, some customers even send me pictures from their travels and tell me how the aircraft is flying. It’s my favorite part of the job.”

 

By making the leap from introverted engineer to established leader, Pitts now helps other up-and-coming managers at her service center location. She mentors and trains newly hired service managers, helping them balance customer expectations and the technical duties required of the job.

 

Her engineering experience has also given her an advantage, she said.

 

“If we have a Longitude undergoing inspections, I may be asked questions about it since my colleagues know I was an engineer in the jet’s certification program,” Pitts said.

 

At a time when women are increasingly evaluating their careers  – one in four are considering a career change – Pitts advises fellow professionals to plan ahead and make long-term changes with confidence.

 

“In general, you’ll do better than you think,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to consider something new because you’ll bring a lot of new skills to the table.”

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