There are many surprises in store when crossing the Atlantic to meet an engineer leading the Program Management team of Leonardo Helicopters in the US, which manages the various programs in the final assembly lines of the AW119 and the AW139. Ani Panoti is an analytical and program-oriented professional, indeed what you would expect from a talented Leonardo engineer. Guiding her through a path of personal and professional achievement are not only scientific wisdom and preparation, but also an inextinguishable source of passion; passion for the world of aerospace, passion for personal and professional excellence and passion for happiness.
Let’s get to know Ani Panoti
The distinctive feature of character
Determination. I find that having well-defined objectives also reveals a clear path to their successful achievement. For me, determination doesn’t just mean getting where you want to go, it means how you get there.
The main vulnerability
An excess of passion for what I do. Because if there is too much passion to guide you, then you always run the risk of losing something along the journey.
Who are the heroes
Definitely my parents, especially my mother. She has always been the one leading the family. Firm, yes! But my sister and I understood, thanks to her example, how important it is to always evaluate very carefully the steps and direction to take. At the same time, though, she supported our choices. Even professionally, as a dentist, she always gave her best. Now she’s retired.
I recently became an aunt, and I try to devote as much time as possible to my twin nieces who are just over a year old. Also, I like to cook and travel with my husband, who taught me well Italian, which we often speak at home. I also love sports and the company of good friends.
What you dislike
Lack of integrity, when you know you can’t trust a person.
A motto, a phrase that always accompanies you
The only thing I always say to myself is that time is the most precious thing we have. So I try to do as much as I can in the time I have available.
So let’s speak about your scientific soul:
Why did you choose STEM studies and why would you recommend them
At first it was the influence of my parents. With my dad an engineer and mom a dentist, I thought my orientation would have been more towards the medical field. I chose engineering, because I’m very logical and analytical. It’s a side of me that I like and that made my studying easy. Then, by coincidence, I found myself working for an American company connected at that time to Leonardo, and I discovered my passion for aerospace. And in Leonardo, I found real passion, because I love what I do and because I think our products are the best. In a way, my career was simple, because it was guided by this great passion. In addition, scientific studies teach us the importance of problem-solving, an attitude that you can use in any field and aspect of life. I mean, engineering is a science that allows you to reinvent yourself all the time.
Tell us about your professional challenges in Leonardo, the projects you feel proud of
The fact that I joined this team in 2007 was my first, important challenge. In fact, I worked for a Leonardo supplier, and arriving here meant working for a great company that aims to meet the needs of every customer. So, every project becomes a unique challenge, which turns into a personal, as well as professional, success. Seeing helicopters fly on a mission and thinking that I was part of that project, is something that inspires me and fills me with pride. It is also very gratifying to be able to satisfy the needs of every customer, transforming the same basic machine into an almost unique product, like a custom-made dress that fits perfectly.
Diversity as a business value Let’s tell your story. In which areas of your career path did you face challenges
The minus I see, is that there are few women in the industry, so you have to work hard to make your voice heard. And, even when you have a voice, I have the impression that the focus is more on how you say something than its content. So I have to be careful not only on what, but also how I am communicating. The plus of many women I worked with is they are very organized, among many other qualities, and they tend to have a more developed emotional side, which provides different point of views and perspectives, especially in a very technical environment such as the aerospace industry. Balance and diversity in the workplace are crucial for the success of the Company in the marketplace.
As a talented Leonardo engineer, how have you balanced both your professional life and your private life
I think that especially when you choose a management path you have the responsibility to add value to the company you work for. Managers must do their best to make the whole team feel part of a project, of a common goal. I believe that we are the ones who have to build the corporate culture. And to do it, it is fundamental to have the right balance between professional and private life. For a manager, the challenge is to be able to guarantee the right amount of time for personal life to both the manager and the team, because it is an investment that pays off in terms of adding energy and determination in achieving the goals set.
In your opinion, which areas (culture, welfare, economic) could be improved
Cultural change must continue and must be strengthened. The diversity of thought, culture, traditions, etc., is an extremely important value that successful companies must make the most of, especially in a global context like the one Leonardo operates in. The diversity required has to start from the basics, including educational/school systems, in order to attract and motivate many more young people towards technical and scientific career paths, enhancing merit and skill.
We need to work on women’s access to management positions to create leadership opportunities and leave a footprint. To implement this process, we have to look at merit not percentages, and it is a cultural and educational theme. I’m sure that if you give room to all emerging, talented people, success will come.
In conclusion a message that comes from your personal and professional experience, aimed at young people in particular
Definitely if I have to send a message, I would say that it is very important to work with passion, otherwise it is just work and nothing more. In Leonardo, I am lucky because in addition to our products there are "people", a multicultural environment, stimulating and vital, which is fundamental to make a difference. So what do I say to young people? Find your passion and follow it. It will bring you happiness.