Dispatch Supervisor Leslie Baker is no stranger to persevering through crises. From raising her daughter alone after her husband passed away while on active duty to being under constant enemy attack while serving in Afghanistan after 9/11, Leslie credits her military service for preparing her to handle difficult and stressful situations. Like the military, working in an airline’s Operations Control Center (OCC) presents daily challenges to keep operations running on-time and thanks to her military training, Leslie feels equipped to handle what comes her way.
Leslie sees many parallels between the military and Piedmont’s operation. “In the military, a single role is like a spoke in a wheel, and different roles have to work together to make the wheel move; running an airline is no different,” shares Leslie. “As a flight dispatcher, you establish relationships with team members from all departments with diverse backgrounds to work through different challenges to ensure on-time departures.”
Leslie says not only do you have to work well with others, but the military taught her the importance of having a strong work ethic to work on your own and present yourself as a reliable, dependable and a consistent part of the team. “I learned to think quick on my feet in the military and working in Dispatch, you also have to think quick to make smart, sound decisions,” Leslie reflects.
The importance of problem-solving, working well under pressure and attention to detail are other skills that Leslie says she gained from the military that help her in her role. “You have to be an expert at what you do,” Leslie says. “When a dispatcher comes to me with a question, I have to be confident in my answer. It’s important to share the knowledge because it makes the team stronger.”
From Dispatcher, Desk Trainer to now Dispatch Supervisor, Leslie takes pride in her path from the military to civilian life. Following in her grandfather and uncle’s footsteps, Leslie joined the United States Navy after graduating high school where she served as a police officer in Florida, Hawaii, Texas, California, and Italy. While serving in the Navy, her husband passed away on active duty leaving her to raise her daughter alone. After 14 years, she separated from the Navy and entered civilian life while remaining an active reservist. While working as a correctional officer at a maximum-security prison, her reserve unit was activated to guard the 9/11 site in New York City for six weeks. “There are no words to describe it,” Leslie reflects. “After 9/11, I felt compelled to finish serving my country.”
Shortly after 9/11, Leslie joined the United States Army and returned to basic training at age 32. “Even though I previously served in the Navy, I had to complete basic training all over again.” She deployed to Afghanistan for 18 months as an aviation operations specialist with her AH64 helicopter unit. While in Afghanistan, she ran the unit’s flight operations and was under constant enemy attack. Due to her prior experience in policing, she also conducted patrols with law enforcement. After sustaining a service injury, Leslie separated from the Army two years later.
She decided to take what she learned working in military flight operations to obtain her civilian dispatch certificate while earning her bachelor’s degree. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a goal to become a police officer. Unable to successfully pass the required tests due to her injury, she successfully obtained her dispatch certificate before joining Piedmont in 2018.
“I love the people I work with here and working in the OCC is our own little community,” shares Leslie. “I’m grateful that I can utilize what the military taught me to be successful in my Dispatch career.”
Piedmont is dedicated to actively reaching out to veterans through collaborations with non-profit organizations, targeted advertising in military publications, and participation in virtual and in-person career fairs. If you are a veteran or military spouse interested in working for an airline that wholeheartedly supports our military families, we encourage you to join us at Piedmont. Click here to view our current openings.