Jackie Mondora has her seventh grade teacher to thank for recognizing her ability in math and inspiring her to pursue a career in engineering. “Miss Wise—seriously, that was her name—told me I was an engineer, but I didn’t know what that meant,” she recalls. “I pictured someone driving a train. I told her I didn’t want to wear the hat, but I think I could drive a train, and she laughed.”
Once Mondora understood what it actually meant to be an engineer, she jumped on that path and never looked back. After serving in the Navy as a Russian translator and working in various civilian roles—such as copying blueprints and rewiring control panels for a small business in Ohio—Mondora began her career at GE Power through an acquisition. More than a decade later, she’s leading a team as the Digital Integration and Alliance Leader within customer service engineering.
“I knew GE Power was a good thing because growing up in Ohio, the company had a strong presence,” Mondora says. “I welcomed the acquisition and felt it gave me more growth potential than a small company could.”
Here, Mondora shares the impact of her work at GE Power, why she never waits for opportunities to fall in her lap, and the book she read cover to cover in one sitting.
During your time at GE Power, you’ve moved up from a quality engineer to a leader in engineering. What have been the keys to your success?
I’m happiest when I am challenged and recognized for my contributions, and have had to make choices to move to teams where this is possible. As GE changes, I adjust my direction to where I can make that positive impact. Opportunities didn’t fall into my lap. I learn what teams are doing and see if I am a good fit and if I can work with them.
Years ago, I had a mentor who was a leader in generators in Schenectady. We met and found we had similar interests in baseball and Italian food. I asked for his guidance in my career journey and he helped me build confidence in my skills and told me to quit selling myself short. He encouraged me see that I already had a proven track record and that I’m a doer. I’ve taught myself more over the years than any training program. I just set my mind to it, learn what’s necessary, and discover along the way what else I need to know.
What is your team like, and how is the work you’re doing impactful?
I’ve been with customer service engineering for almost a year. It is a global team with a wonderfully diverse background. We are so open about our strengths and knowledge and willing to help each other with whatever we need to complete our projects. Sometimes it’s financial data or just where to find certain information. Our biggest impediment is the hours available in a day.
I am working on a lot of integration projects between applications that customer service engineers (CSEs) and others supporting our customers use to help solve problems. The applications we work with improve the quality and speed with which our customer service functions resolve issues. My team is highly focused on improving the operations of these fulfillment functions.
Why is now a particularly exciting time to work at GE Power?
It is always an exciting time to work at GE Power. I think the biggest opportunity is developing our gas turbines to burn hydrogen and reduce carbon emissions.
What is a problem you’re trying to solve at GE Power?
I think reducing waste in our processes is the biggest thing I can do to help our company be successful. I share my thoughts on value in these projects. Sometimes it feels like a big machine that you can’t impact or that I am an outsider giving my two cents. One thing is certain: I am tenacious enough to keep trying until either I succeed or failure becomes obvious.
As a veteran, tell us about your experience transitioning to the civilian workforce. What skills from your time in the military do you still use in your current role?
As a Russian linguist, I mostly worked in secure office-like areas, so my transition was easy compared to others. As for skills: typing for sure. I had to translate and type up what was being said as fast as I could. In addition, learning a foreign language is a lot like programming software or translating logic into code or vice versa.
In what ways does GE Power support you as a veteran?
GE Power allows me to be in the volunteer South Carolina State Guard (SCSG). We wear the uniforms, drill monthly, and carry the rank, tradition, and rigor of the military. Our mission is to quickly respond to protect people and property and help communities recover from natural or man-made disasters. In the event that the South Carolina Army National Guard is mobilized, the SCSG assumes the state mission.
How have you applied your skills as an engineer to your family life?
I taught my children the lean and agile workflows when I learned them. We had a Kanban board for chores and household projects. We scrummed at dinner to figure out how to get things done so that we had time and money to do fun things. I taught them to focus on value and not on the things we do just to do them.
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I love to build and fix things. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m a great cook, and I flipped a few houses and learned a lot, and would like to do more. I live on a farm and there are endless options to build and fix things.
What are you currently reading, watching, and/or listening to?
I was just stuck in an airport without much internet, and read It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover from cover to cover; it was laugh-out-loud hilarious. I am bringing Rules of Civility by Amor Towles on an upcoming vacation and am currently reading Snowflake by Louise Nealon. I usually read spy novels or political thrillers.