In this monthly column, Defense Daily highlights individuals from across the government, industry and academia whose efforts contribute daily to national defense, from the program managers to the human resource leaders, to the engineers and logistics officers, to defense entrepreneurs.
Eva Bica-Winterling is the general manager of Mission Solutions at the Electronic Warfare for the Space and Airborne Systems segment of L3Harris Technologies. She assumed the position in late 2019. Bica-Winterling is responsible for the program execution and financial performance of the division, internal research and development portfolio management, project selection, and new business capture that supports the strategic growth goals of the division. She reports to the President, Electronic Warfare. Before joining L3Harris, Bica-Winterling was the F-35 Sustainment Director at Pratt & Whitney, UTC.
How did you get involved in the defense industry or community?
My career has always been driven by my two passions – exploring the unknown and defending our nation’s freedom. The latter is very important to me as I was raised in a country where freedom was a luxury that we didn’t have. Thankfully, I have been fortunate enough to pursue both of these passions throughout my career. Before joining L3Harris, I worked on the Space Suite and Orion Spacecraft and served as the F135 Sustainment Director responsible for F135 sustainment strategy, program execution, business capture, affordability and digital strategy. Now I lead the Mission Solutions division in electronic warfare for the Space and Airborne segment of L3Harris Technologies.
What are some challenges you faced working through your career?
The biggest challenge during the start of my career was my perceived lack of experience. I worked alongside incredibly smart people in the space industry but often felt like I had to prove that I had enough experience to make a meaningful impact on the team. I worked incredibly hard to demonstrate that I understood both the project management and technical aspects of our systems. As my career progressed and I took on additional program management roles I also had two kids and now my challenges have shifted to balancing my responsibilities at work and at home. As I answer these questions my family is quarantining and we are trying to keep my 4 and 7 year olds entertained with virtual learning while still managing our work responsibilities.
Did you feel like you always had sufficient mentors and leaders to help guide you? Why/why not?
I’ve always had mentors because I actively sought out individuals who could help me both personally and professionally. I learn best by interacting with others and asking questions to understand their thought process. One defining moment in my career was when I built up the courage to walk into one of our leader’s offices to ask her to be my mentor. That relationship helped me through some extremely challenging times while opening the door to new opportunities. I have also had the honor to work for some really amazing leaders throughout my career, some of them tougher than others but they all taught me how to lead and inspire a team.
How do you work to be a mentor to younger counterparts?
I am very passionate about mentoring because it has helped me tremendously in my career and I believe mentorship is a two-way street – both the mentor and mentee are constantly learning from each other. I love connecting with other individuals and learning how I can help them overcome challenges and inspire them to follow their dreams. One of the best feelings is when you see your mentees soar.
What does it mean to be successful in your career field?
I define success in this industry as not only being good at your job but also having strong relationships and trust with your customers and coworkers. These relationships help the team provide quality products to our warfighters so they can protect our freedom and return home safely.
What do you see as the future of your sector in national defense?
The future of electronic warfare is all-domain operations. The electromagnetic spectrum pervades every aspect of the modern battlefield, and without uninterrupted access to it, we lose our advantage. We need multi-domain electronic warfare solutions for our warfighters and our allied militaries around the world.
How has the culture changed around diversity within your career?
There has been increased focus around diversity as I have progressed in my career. It is a welcomed change as there are numerous studies that show how diverse teams perform better than homogeneous teams. Diversity of thought is extremely important when building teams as it reduces the possibility of groupthink and increases the number of solutions and “out of the box” ideas.
What is your advice for new entrants to the defense/military community?
Follow your passion and find great mentors and leaders along the way who will challenge and uplift you. Also, learn from your mistakes (we all make them), ask lots of questions and become an expert in your field.
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