Celebrating Black History Month: An Interview with Elaine Gardner

What is your current title and how long have you been at Atlas?

I am Senior Manager, Accounts Payable in Corporate Accounting and I have been with Atlas for 16 years.

Elaine Gardner.

What are your primary responsibilities in your role at Atlas and what is your favorite part of the job?

I support the Company’s finance and accounting operational functions. My main responsibilities are, but not limited to, managing our supplier invoice and payment processing, reporting, auditing as well as ensuring we are in compliance with the Company’s policies. My favorite part of the job is exploring ways to optimize our processes, reduce inefficiencies, and ensure our suppliers are having a positive experience with the different options provided to enhance the invoice and payment process. I also enjoy finding ways to further strengthen the talent of my team, which I believe is one of the attributes as a great leader.

How did you find Atlas? What interested you most about working for the Company?

A recruiter introduced me to Atlas and during the interview process, interestingly; I learned that Atlas was implementing an e-invoice system, which I was previously exploring. I recognized that Atlas would be a great opportunity for me to grow professionally and make a difference in terms of improving the accounting processes, while advancing my career.

What do you like most about working in aviation?

I think that aviation offers a more fast-paced environment than other industries, and I appreciate that. There is always something different and exciting to experience! I have also enjoyed learning about the industry – there are so many different roles involved in delivering for our customers and moving cargo throughout the world.

What does Black History Month mean to you?  Why is it important?

Black History Month is so important because it calls attention to, and celebrates, the many contributions African American men and women have made to the United States. These contributions must be taught, understood and embraced by all. It is important to recognize that the fabric of this country has been made by all –and Black Americans have played a major role; Black history is not a month, it is centuries of achievement against adversity.

Does anyone or anything come to mind when you think of the contributions made by the Black community throughout American history?

Many people were visionaries and paved the way for the Black community. In terms of historic figures, I immediately think of Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, who were so brave and used their voice to take a stand and make a difference. There are also a number of athletes, such as Muhammed Ali, Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, who I think should be commended for the barriers they overcame to triumph in their sports. When you also think of the contributions my community made, you cannot deny how sports have been influenced by the plethora of our African American athletes. I take such inspiration from all of them.

Who do you consider to be the strong Black leaders of today who are currently making history, and how have they impacted you?

Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States. She is an attorney, an author, a mother and a wife. She is an incredible role model and has done so much to support military families, encourage healthy eating and living for children and families and promote higher education. Michelle Obama is making a difference in so many ways, yet she is still so relatable. She really gives me hope and makes me proud.

What is your advice to young Black professionals who are considering their career options?

Do your research! Make sure whatever career path you choose, it is enjoyable, and rewarding. It is not always about the money, it is about being passionate about what you are doing. I also think it is important to pursue career path that will give you an opportunity to make a positive difference.

What does having a diverse workforce mean to you?

A truly diverse workforce is one where every voice is heard and everyone is recognized, understood, and appreciated for their contributions. I think Verna Myers’ quote sums it up: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”

What would your colleagues be most surprised to learn about you?

I think my colleagues would be surprised to learn that I have a twin brother. My personality can be described as an ambivert.