From working parents to military veterans, GE would not be the company it is today without its employees. We created “Quick Six” to celebrate our diverse talent by asking employees six questions that uncover the unique ways that they contribute to GE and the world.
At GE Aviation, we are inspired by the work our Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) do everyday. In celebration of AAPI month, we sat down with Jayesh Shanbhag, Regional Manager for the Customer and Product Support team for the Americas region, who talked about his experiences as a Pacific Islander and how we can all better understand the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Tell us about where you grew up and your path to the United States.
I’m a proud Asian and pacific islander from Mumbai, India. I had a humble upbringing, grew up in a 200 square foot apartment with restrooms shared by six families. My parents don’t have college degrees, however they ensured both my brother and I went to best English public school where I was exposed to good environment. My initial exposure to the U.S. was when my Dad, who worked for Pfizer pharmaceuticals, would bring magazines home from work with photos of sports stadiums and skyscrapers in New York city. After my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical engineering from one of prestigious engineering schools in India, worked briefly for Tata Consultancy Services where I was exposed to Aviation and GE90 engine … that led to me to graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati in the Mechanical Engineering Program.
What is your current role at GE Aviation?
I serve as the Regional General Manager for the Customer and Product Support team for the Americas region. My team and I support all the customers in the region. My team & I provide commercial and technical support for aviation customers with GE/CFM engines in the Americas (North, Central and South). My team collaborates with customers, product lines, engineering team, and broader support team on GE and CFM products for over 26,000 engines in the region. It’s truly a blessing to work with our global customer base and great colleagues at GE Aviation that invent the future of flight, lift people up and bring them home safely.
Prior to this role, Jayesh held various leadership roles at GE Aviation with increasing responsibilities within commercial engines, services, supply chain and engineering functions. Before joining GE Aviation in 2007, Jayesh has 8 years working experience as Senior Product Development Engineer at Siemens and a Systems Analyst at Tata Consultancy Services.
What do you most enjoy about being a member of GE Aviation’s Asian Pacific Allies and Friends (APAF) employee network?
One vital piece of my upbringing was the importance of giving and helping others grow. I would have never been able to move to the United States or go to graduate school without the support of my parents and a network of well-wishers in India, who put others over self. I’m the first person in locality to go to Engineering school, US grad school and own an independent home. So, it’s very important for me to focus on giving back.
When I started my career at GE, the first Employee Resource Group I joined was APAF. APAF is an organization that serves as a support system and resource group to any employee in the company who wants to learn more about Asian Pacific culture. It helped me build my network, meet amazing individuals and find a community where I could focus on giving, learning new cultures. I owe my growth in the company to the great mentors, coaches and APAF community throughout the years.
Now, I serve as the business liaison for APAF along with a team of hub leaders from Lynn, Grand Rapids, Long Island, Clearwater, and Cincinnati with strong support from exec sponsors Kathy MacKenzie, Jason Tonich and corporate APAF leadership.
What is the mission of the Asian Pacific Allies and Friends (APAF) group?
As you know we are a global company and have a lot of employees who trace their roots and identity to Asia … at APAF, we celebrate our culture with friends and allies in a safe and welcoming space, building lasting relationships and having fun together. Huge focus on networking, skills development, support our local communities and external Asian organizations as well as our GE community, helping to foster inclusion and build a culture of belonging.
The three pillars we primarily focus on are recruiting, retaining, and growing talent. We provide a platform for networking and mentoring and frequently organize cultural events for learning. Recently, we engaged in an effort throughout the company to support the COVID impact in India. APAF hub and initiative leaders developed listening sessions for our APAF team members where we encourage participants to be vulnerable, share their stories and support each other through these difficult times.
What does Asian American and Pacific Heritage Month mean to you? How do you celebrate it?
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is about celebrating the accomplishments of Asian Pacific Islanders. This month is a time of reflection and an opportunity to celebrate our culture and build allyship across all employee base.
Personally, I will take a step back and reflect on my own upbringing, my experiences and learnings, and why I’m so fortunate working with amazing family, employees, customers and friends at GE and Cincinnati community. Most importantly, I will reflect on what I can do more to support culture and Inclusion & Diversity efforts across the company.
How can the community support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders?
I encourage you to spend time understanding the culture of others around you. Participate in cultural events in your community and be open to new experiences. You can become an ally by learning more about other cultures and immersing yourself in diverse activities in your community.