Women’s History Month Spotlight: Crystal Gordon
In honor of Women's History Month, Bristow is shining a spotlight on the women who make Bristow soar. This interview features Senior Vice President, General Counsel Crystal Gordon.
Talk about your role at Bristow and what are you currently working on?
As Bristow's General Counsel, I oversee all legal, compliance, risk management and government affairs matters. I also provide oversight of our global collective bargaining agreements in partnership with local leadership. I spend most of my time providing advice and counsel to our business leaders to proactively identify issues and recommend a path forward to achieve desired business outcomes. In addition, I spend a significant amount of time providing advice on securities and governance matters to our Board of Directors given we have publicly traded equity on the New York Stock Exchange.
What is a recent success you're particularly proud of?
As many people know, we have spent the last two months working to complete the recent bond financing. We closed the transaction on February 25.
I'm especially proud of this accomplishment because we were able to negotiate favorable terms for the company while also achieving excellent pricing, which is very difficult to do in the current environment. I was proud to be part of a project that would enable Bristow to achieve our strategic priorities of Be Efficient and Protect Our Financial Stability.
Further, it is not often that you are able to accomplish two transformative projects (the merger and the bond refinancing) in 18 months with the same team. Projects of this nature require a significant amount of teamwork. Achieving great results together is much more rewarding and strengthens relationships, which helps us be more effective as a leadership team.
What in your background prepared you for this assignment?
I believe playing sports throughout most of my life taught me several valuable lessons that translated well to a professional setting. I think one of the most important lessons I learned from playing sports was resiliency after facing a loss. Everyone will experience setbacks and mistakes in their career (and if you haven't yet, you haven't been challenging yourself). However, learning from these events and not repeating them will make you stronger for the next challenge.
In addition, my role as the General Counsel of Air Methods Corporation prepared me for the dynamic and fast-paced environment at Bristow. During my eight years with Air Methods, I helped lead the company through significant growth via mergers and acquisitions, ultimately doubling the size of Air Methods' fleet to more than 400 aircraft in a short time-frame and diversifying into a new line of business. During my time at Air Methods, the company was also forced to reinvent itself and the value proposition of air medical services.
These experiences enabled me to significantly expand my knowledge in a number of legal and business areas, which assists me today with risk assessment and problem solving across the global business.
What are some challenges you've faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
A challenge I have encountered as a general counsel is learning to stay positive in times of crisis and chaos. Although the Legal team prefers to proactively identify issues for the business, there are a number of reactive situations where quick decisions and guidance are needed that have significant consequences for the business. Learning how to manage stress and stay calm in these types of situations is critical. I try to stay positive by adding levity to a situation (where appropriate), focusing on what I can control, and taking time to meditate or go for a run.
Finally, as anyone with a family and a job knows, it can be challenging to balance the two. I believe balance is unique to each person and does not mean the same thing to everyone. People need to define what balance means for them.
I have found that being present, whether I'm at work or at home, has helped me be successful in my role as a general counsel and mom. I try very hard to focus on my family when I'm with them, rather than thinking about work. For example, I never have my phone at the dinner table or during bed time.
Who inspires you (work, personal and / or historical)?
My parents are my biggest inspiration. Both of my parents had demanding careers, but I never knew this growing up. They made it look easy to balance a job and take care of us. I didn't realize the number of sacrifices they both made to ensure that we felt loved and supported until I had my own kids and tried to follow in their footsteps. Needless to say, my parents are a very tough act to follow.
My parents also taught me the value of hard work. They both climbed the corporate ladder from the bottom through hard work. Neither of them believed in luck. They believed that hard work delivered opportunities, not luck. They have started reinforcing this with my kids; however, the message is a bit softer and often comes with a lot of sugar and fun!
What advice do you have for women just beginning their career?
Never shy away from opportunities simply because you perceive yourself to not have the skillset. I tend to find that women are their own worst critics and won't take a leap to lead a project or apply for a new role if they do not have all of the "required" skillsets. We grow by stretching ourselves and leaving our comfort zones. If your stretching beyond your current skill set, you may make a mistake that will make you better in the long run as you look for the next opportunity.
I also encourage women to be a support system for each other. Women have unique challenges that we face as we move through the workforce. For example, as I noted above, women are often their own worst critics. Therefore, become each other's biggest champions to help silence each other's inner critic.
I feel fortunate at Bristow to work with a talented group of highly qualified women on the leadership team. We also have a supportive and inclusive group of male colleagues who help me personally silence the inner critic. Our leadership team works so well because all of us have a voice, whether a woman or man.
Finally, be intentional to find time to take care of yourself – whether its mentally or physically. You cannot sustain a challenging pace or success if you don't find ways to rejuvenate.
What is unique about your journey to your current role?
I have had the opportunity during the early stages of my career to experience transformative events for a corporation. Most general counsels experience a few transformative events during their entire career. I feel fortunate to have completed a number of corporate transformations that began at Air Methods and continued at Era. I'm looking forward to doing more of the same at Bristow.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I truly enjoy my time with my family. I have three children and they keep me grounded. I absolutely love their unfiltered perspectives and humor.
In my free time, you will find me outdoors hiking, running, biking, fishing or scuba diving. I love traveling to enjoy these hobbies.