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A MORE THAN ABLE MANAGER IN AEROSPACE


Able Aerospace Services, a Textron-owned company in Mesa, Arizona, has built the numbers in its favor. In its 30 years of business, the MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) corporation has repaired millions of components for OEMs and operators across the globe. Two key drivers: An innovative, solutions-focused culture, and an on-site, experienced engineering team that works with designated engineering representatives.


One dedicated engineer rose through Textron’s ranks to pilot Able Aerospace Services from an all-encompassing view. In that rise, general manager Gabriel Massey, a Montreal native, hasn’t lost his engineering enthusiasm for numbers. “I was always good at math and numbers,” he says. “Many of my relatives were engineers, so I always knew it was part of my path, but others were entrepreneurs, which fostered an equal interest in business strategy – a little unique for an engineer.” At Able, this helps him to see more than just digits and details. “It’s important to understand the details, but not get buried in them,” Massey observes. “As a leader, it’s a balance of digging into technical details


when necessary, but at the same time not managing the details. I allow my teams to take care of their details and make their own decisions.” That’s a lesson Massey learned watching other leaders during his rise. “I’ve seen leaders that are good in the details, but never rise up above them, and I’ve seen some that didn’t master details and were disconnected.”


Massey can talk technical on multiple levels as needed. “As a leader in this industry, I think it’s important to understand the technical aspects of a failure, design, or quality issue. Being able to do that gives you competence and credibility. Your employees gain confidence in you,” he


says. As if to underscore that point, one of his colleagues overhears and timely interjects, “You can see that on the floor when he’s huddled with employees around a job. You can see on their faces that he really understands what he’s talking about when he offers a strategy, and that creates a great deal of trust and balance.”


The word “balance” seems apt, for as the interview proceeds Massey is all about balance: in hiring and team building, in work and family life (a balance that is being currently calibrated to welcome his new son born this past summer, “Having the little guy at home with us now is amazing,” he beams.) He’s even balanced in the books he reads for pleasure; they’re split between engineering history tomes and Stephen King horror fiction. Massey’s young son will likely welcome a sister to the family in the future just to balance the family’s gender ratio. When the girl goes through her inevitable gymnastics phase, she’ll specialize in balance beam, but that’s pure speculation of course.


COOL AND COLLECTED


Levity aside, balance requires a serious, measured response, especially when it involves workplace temperament. “I’ve seen a lot of styles,” Massey reflects. “Some managers were very emotional. I tend to go in the other direction. My style is to stay non-emotional in everything I do and I want my teams to be like that. Try to keep your rage in check. I think my style is cool and collected. If a problem arises, I want us to think through it and find the best possible solution. Anyone can approach me with things that are really good or really bad. We’ll definitely celebrate successes, but the world’s not going to implode if they bring me challenges.”


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