WashingtonExec has reached out to leading govcon communications and media executives about the latest trends in a post-pandemic world. These interviews highlight success stories that resonate, discuss how organizations are navigating current challenges and provide insight into lessons learned. Leigh Ann Cathro, head of marketing for Airbus U.S. Space & Defense Inc., shares her thoughts below.
What were you and your team heavily focused on this year?
Our team is growing at an extremely fast rate, which is exciting and challenging. Because of the fast-paced environment, we must be laser focused on where we spend our time and precious resources. This takes consistent engagement with our executives, business development leaders, and board of directors to build our long-term strategy, and to drive awareness to our company and its leaders. We’re building focused campaigns to drive exposure and engagement to increase brand awareness within the U.S. space and defense market, as a trusted partner to the U.S. government.
How did you/your team approach a post-pandemic world? What does that look like in your organization?
While Airbus has always been a global company, with the ability to function remotely, the Airbus U.S. team entered the pandemic in a growth and reorganization phase in early 2020. Since then, we’ve seen a 265% growth rate in terms of company size.
While things never really slowed down for us, the pandemic did give us more time to strategize, and identify who we are and where we want to go – all while working as a team remotely.
Post-pandemic, we have the tools to collaborate virtually more effectively, thanks to our fantastic IT team. We’re now in the unique position of having employees based in over 20 states. We’ve hired the right people for the right jobs no matter where they’re based. We offer flexible hybrid work environments for those located near our offices.
But the most meaningful and productive time is when we come together for face-to-face meetings, workshops and team-building events. We’re encouraging teams to build in regular in-person touchpoints when it makes sense for their organizations.
What are some of the biggest media and communications trends you are anticipating for 2023?
While AI chat breakthroughs have gotten a lot of attention recently, one thing we’ve learned from them so far is the value and necessity of human interaction. And we see the same thing at trade shows and in-person events ⏤ these human-touch gatherings have seen record-breaking attendance numbers post-pandemic. The human interaction and need to come together was clearly missed. We’re enjoying seeing our customers personally, meeting with new suppliers, and recruiting directly for our growing team.
It’s so great to share what we do and to have the opportunity to shake hands and even hug each other again is priceless!
In conjunction with these in-person events, we’re also focused on thought leadership opportunities and maximizing our return on investment for the associations we support. We’re inserting our top subject matter experts in speaking opportunities and on panels where we’re targeting a specific audience to drive awareness and consideration.
How do you hope current or ongoing media and communications initiatives positively impact the organization and its workforce?
When people think of Airbus, they think of commercial airplanes. We’re more than just an airplane manufacturer. The Airbus U.S. Space & Defense team can support classified work at all levels of national security. We bring exquisite technology to the U.S., we’re establishing and growing our U.S. industrial footprint, we’re engineering and manufacturing trusted products, and delivering them to the warfighter.
So, our current communications efforts are focused on telling our story, and how we’re designed to be different. We’re focused on highlighting our people and their contributions. We’re telling our story and helping everyone identify their purpose. We’re also expanding our ERG program offerings, challenging our employees to make meaningful connections with each other, and to exchange and learn from new perspectives.
What are you most passionate about enhancing communications-wide in your organization going forward?
Reinforcing the shared sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going. We’ve learned, grown and evolved, and it’s been exciting to shape our present and future for the benefit of our employees and the space and defense industry. I’m excited about the future as we continue to build our path to bring world-class technology to the U.S. and Americanize, industrialize and deliver it to the DOD.