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Chris Emerson congratulates WeatherTech entrepreneur David MacNeil on his H145 order at Heli-Expo 2016.


offered the position of senior vice president and head of product strategy for commercial aviation in Toulouse, France. “Wow, what an opportunity; I wasn’t going to turn that down! I had 60 engineers working for me—and I was a fish out of water.” From his first day in that job, Emerson recalls he had a lot to learn. “I was saying you need to do this and that, and the group replied back, ‘No, no, no, it doesn’t work this way Chris.’”


Nevertheless, Emerson quickly learned to bring the value he constantly sought to his new role. “I really had to learn how to be a leader without being


14 May/June 2016


an expert. I was an expert in finance but I wasn’t an expert in engineering, and I sure as hell didn’t know how to develop a next-generation commercial jet—but my team did. So, how was I supposed to bring value to the corporation by leading these guys when I wasn’t an expert? It challenged me but was rewarding, and I have to say I think we did a pretty good job. It was a lot of fun.”


Emerson laughs he may have had too much fun, because as EADS reorganized into Airbus, he was next asked to lead global marketing efforts for commercial sales. Once again,


the new senior vice president of marketing, who had never been part of the sales process, found himself with a lot to learn. Fortunately, a team of over 200 worked with him as he steered their efforts, and again he met the challenge.


Au Revoir Jets & Howdy Helicopters


By this time Emerson and his family had been in France for over five years, and his wife and their young girls were a little homesick for the States. (Emerson jokes that his family lived in France, whereas he lived at Airbus.) So when the position of president and


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