Cheryl Talasco wears many hats. She's worked at UTC Aerospace Systems for almost 20 years, starting as a design engineer, and taking advantage of the company's many learning opportunities to advance her career. Now, as the director of program quality, she's a true fairygodboss—a woman who pushed herself to grow in her own career and leads and pushes others to do the same.
Fairygodboss of the week: Cheryl Talasco
Director, Program Quality, UTC Aerospace Systems
Tell us a little about your career.
I have been at UTC Aerospace Systems for almost 20 years. I started as a design engineer in the propellers business. I have held positions in project engineering and program management and there were always opportunities for special projects along the way. The last position I had was the chief engineer of a major development program. As the chief engineer, I was responsible for meeting the commitments of the overall schedule, budget, and technical content for all of UTC Aerospace Systems, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of technologically advanced aerospace and defense products. Throughout my time at UTAS, I have taken advantage of the many learning opportunities that UTC offers to help advance my career. The UTC employee scholar program helped me to receive two masters degrees as well as specialized courses in leadership development. Just recently, I decided it was time to try something different, and I was able to move to a new position in the quality organization of UTC Aerospace Systems.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
While I was chief engineer, we changed the way our company works with other companies. I helped to develop guidelines for a successful development program and implemented those guidelines on my program. The UTAS management adopted those ideas and rolled them out to other major development programs. It makes me proud to encourage a positive work environment that will keep our programs successful going forward.
What is a challenge that you’ve faced and overcome?
Balancing my career and family is probably my biggest obstacle. After my first daughter was born, I took a few years off to stay at home with my kids. I was able to return to UTAS when I was ready to continue my career. I love both my kids and my job and there is not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to at work and at home. This is a struggle that everyone faces, but the flexible time policy at UTAS has allowed me to do more with my kids, and a good support system at home has allowed me to accomplish more at work.
What is the #1 career tip you’d like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
My best advice is to be clear about what you want for the next assignment. Start thinking about what is next so that you can identify what is needed to get to that goal.
Why do you love where you work?
I love UTAS because of the variety of products that we make and the opportunities that the variety provides. UTAS alone has five different business units, each providing unique and complex products to its aerospace customers. We continue to advance our product line and help to make airplanes better for passengers. With such a large company, there is plenty of opportunity to learn from each other and to be involved in creating new products with new technologies.
Who is Your fairygodboss? And Why?
My Fairygodboss is Terry Cowles, an engineer here at the Windsor Locks site of UTAS. She was one of the first female engineers at the Windsor locks site and helped to pave the way for others. She continues to inspire and mentor other female engineers in their career goals. I was lucky to be able to work with her and learn from her experience. She continues to be a good friend and mentor.
What do you do when you are not working?
I spend as much time as I can with my family. I love to hike and almost every weekend we can be found hiking on one of Connecticut’s beautiful trails. I also love the beach, I spend every vacation at the ocean somewhere.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
I would like to have dinner with Sheryl Sandberg. She is an inspiration for women in the Technical community. Her book, Lean In, continues to inspire women to lead. Together, these will help advance women in the tech community.
What is your karaoke song?
I try not to sing in public. My voice can crack mirrors. In private, I love to sing “I Told You So” by Carrie Underwood.
What is your favorite movie?
Elf. It makes me laugh and puts me in the good mood every time that I watch it.
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
The latest Dan Brown or something with a lot of action.
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
I love to go shopping in general, but if I won the lottery, I would definitely buy a beach house on the ocean in North Carolina.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.