Black History Month Spotlight: Karl Watson

Bristow shines the spotlight on Shipping Coordinator Karl Watson from our Lake Charles, Louisiana base in honor of Black History Month

Talk about your role at Bristow and what are you currently working on?

I currently work in logistics and our department is responsible for making sure all the parts needed to service our aircraft are provided to all bases around the world in a timely manner. We prepare and coordinate every movement of parts for the aircraft, whether big or small, including the aircraft itself. We oversee and organize transportation daily and we also provide information to customs and freight forwarders to ensure there are no delays with our shipments. We get involved locally and internationally because we play a critical role in keeping the aircraft properly maintained and ensuring the mechanics and pilots are getting everything they need to do their jobs.

What is a recent success you’re particularly proud of?

Coming back here to Lake Charles and seeing the damage Hurricane Delta and Laura caused at our base and in the community last year and not knowing how fast we could recover was devastating. I honestly felt like packing up my bags and leaving Louisiana because there was so much uncertainty from getting hit back-to-back by two hurricanes. When I saw how everyone in the community came together to pick up the pieces, my desire to leave Louisiana melted away. I wanted to be a part of the rebuild and make a difference as a member of the team. Despite being knocked down by two storms, we bounced back and worked together to rebuild. It’s truly an honor to be part of this community!

What in your background prepared you for this assignment?

I worked for DHL for 15 years. I started in dispatch and worked my way up to become a driver. After that, I moved into the role of hazmat inspector and lead route relief, then worked my way up to the office as a service agent, and eventually became the supervisor running the local office. I love working with people and fixing problems. I feel the bigger the challenge, the better the learning experience.

What are the opportunities and challenges that are unique to your area?

Dealing with logistics for our international bases makes for a unique work environment. I get to interact with different cultures and variety of people at all levels with many different backgrounds. Language barriers can be challenging, but we work through them together – it’s critical to have patience and give people grace. I love the travel opportunities we have with Bristow. Getting out to our bases around the world and helping how I can are some of my favorite parts of my job. In my nine years with the Company, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to several bases, meet lots of people and learn about our various operations and functions.

What was the greatest lesson you learned from a colleague?

The best people I’ve worked with throughout my career taught me the importance of good work ethic. When you surround yourself with people who are smart and take pride in their work, it inspires you to do better because the standard is set high from the start.

What black role models inspire you and why?

My parents have always inspired me. My dad is a retired chemist who worked 40 years at BASF chemical plant, and my mother has owned a boutique in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for 35 years. They also owned a neighborhood grocery store for 15 years. My parents are leaders in the community and are well known and respected in the Baton Rouge area. They have always inspired me to work hard, make a valuable contribution to the community and strive for better.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

For me, Black History Month is about celebrating the positive impact and contributions we have given to the world in the past, present and reminds me of hope and opportunity for the future. Black History Month gives me the opportunity to learn about my ancestors. I’m glad we celebrate Black History Month because it shares our culture and achievements with the world. Black history is not just about the bad times – it’s about integrity, leadership and determination; it’s about showing true character.

What significant events in Black history do you particularly connect with? Why?

Barrack Obama becoming president is an event that stands out to me – it was a significant event for me as a Black man and a pivotal event for the world. It made a huge impact on the Black community across the U.S. I witnessed so many elders shed tears rejoicing when he became president. Countless Black youths were hugely inspired by this event – their dreams have no limits because Barrack Obama led the way. It makes you feel that if you put in the hard work, you can be whatever you want to be.

Achievements like this inspire future generations. One example close to home for me is my daughter, who is finishing up her last year of medical school in Houston, Texas, and will be the first doctor in our family. To say I’m proud as her father is an understatement!