Panel with Women You Need to Meet: Honoring Women’s History in their Month

By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español


March is women’s month: a time when all of us females (and men should too) need to reflect on the fact that we wouldn’t be where we are today as a whole in society if it weren’t for the struggles of our female counterparts. Likewise, many of us wouldn’t find the motivation to achieve our goals if it weren’t for the positive impact left by women in nearby environments such as, for example, South Florida. Four of them shared their insights.

Kendra Phillips, VP of Global Transportation Management at Ryder System, Inc; Captain Tammy Binns, Chief Pilot at Miami International Airport for American Airlines; and Sandra Ochoa, CEO and Founder of VEMAX Insurance Agency, were the main guests of a panel that took place on March 5 at Miami Dade College West Campus.

Kendra Phillips, VP of Global Transportation Management at Ryder System, Inc; Mayor Christi Fraga; Sandra Ochoa, CEO and Founder of VEMAX Insurance Agency; Captain Tammy Binns, Chief Pilot at Miami International Airport for American Airlines

Hosted by Doral Family Journal in conjunction with Miami Dade College and moderated by the City of Doral’s Mayor, Christi Fraga, the event began with the story of these three women’s extensive careers—a path with setbacks and merits but built on the basis of will, discipline, and faith in themselves.

After completing an Associate of Arts at Miami Dade College and obtaining a bachelor’s degree in education, Sandra Ochoa had several roles in medical centers, starting with one as an insurance coordinator.

“I worked very hard and earned every job. Then I wanted to be able to lead a group and do it right, and that’s what drives a lot of my willingness to continue moving forward and push myself to do more,” said the entrepreneur with an 18-year career in the health and wellness field.

Captain Tammy Binns

For Captain Tammy Binns, her path wasn’t as clear at first; after starting a major in music and then one in speech pathology and audiology, she took an aptitude test that resulted in her diving into the world of airplanes. This is how she switched to a major in aviation maintenance and got a private pilot license.

“I always loved airplanes, flying and being in airports, but I never realized that this could be my job because I had never seen a pilot who looked like me,” explained the African American and openly gay professional, who says equality is not describing someone like her with such labels but simply referring to them as pilots.

Kendra Phillips

In contrast, Kendra Phillips always knew her professional life would revolve around math, science, and engineering, so she chose to study chemical engineering and math to later pursue an MBA. After finishing her studies, she received a job offer that brought her to Miami.

But despite how clear she was about her calling, on several occasions she has been offered roles for which she wasn’t prepared for, which has given her a wide range of skills, making her a versatile and well-trained professional.

The challenges they all went through, undertaken with hard work and consistency, translated into achievements highlighted in the panel. Captain Tammy, for example, recalled how becoming the first black female check pilot on a CRJ-700 aircraft within Envoy Air, formerly known as American Eagle Airlines, later landed her the mission of rewriting the training program for a CRJ-700.

She was then asked to join the diversity, equity, and inclusion team and, after that, to be a chief pilot. “And here I am,” says Tammy with an awe tone, because she never intended to take all those turns but rather earned them for her readiness. “Much of my path has been based on simply showing up, being myself, trusting people who believe in me and not listening to those who doesn’t have my best interest at heart, always moved by a desire to help.”

Sandra Ochoa

As for Sandra Ochoa, having started from the bottom and leading a fast-paced life, studying in the mornings, and working from 3 p.m. to 11 at night made her become a resilient person, a quality that served as fertilizer to continue progressing. She also was able to do that due to her mom and husband’s support.

“My mom was always my quarterback. She would always tell me I could do more in every challenge presented to me and doing my best opened doors for me. Also, having a very clear vision about where I wanted to be made me reach places, I never thought I would reach.”

Kendra Phillips understood that she could do anything she set her mind into when she started to constantly receive assignments she didn’t know how to do. “I was once asked to do cost accounting in California. My reply was: what is that? I had to read a book about it on the airplane on my way to my new role.” That role was followed by others in sales, corporate strategy, and technology, among others, areas that she learned to master by working.

The journey they had taught them important lessons: having a macro vision of an industry and being a good leader can be more useful than technical knowledge, being a person that people follow is a great responsible that you have to honor, not all bosses are leaders, if you really want to help become the person you would work for, exchanging ideas helps build strong work teams and you always have to trust the process.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend