As senior vice president of Hub & Gateway operations for American Airlines, Suzanne Boda oversees hub and gateway operations for the world’s largest airlines. Although Boda is a respected leader in her field today, when she began her career in the airlines industry in 1983, she was one of very few women in a largely male environment. But, she says that working hard, supporting others and finding creative ways to move through or around this and other challenges made her a better person and a better leader.

In addition to handling her regular responsibilities, Boda recently launched a Disability Task Force to review existing policies and implement changes that would help American Airlines better serve customers with disabilities. A wheelchair handling project has been launched at all airports, which will greatly improve service to these customers. Boda also serves as the executive sponsor for the company’s LGBT employee group.

Outside work, Boda serves on the board of The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the American Association of People with Disabilities in Washington, DC, and is an active member of the Far East Asian Art Committee at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies and in Spanish from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

“To me, diversity and inclusion means welcoming everyone’s opinions, valuing their unique backgrounds, and treating all people with respect and dignity,” says Boda. “The best solutions can only be found after people who see things differently have contributed to the discussion.”

Boda shares this advice with women building careers: “Stay true to yourself. Be proud of your background—who you are and what you bring to the table. Be nice. Be happy and positive, and have fun! Make decisions. Be supportive, collaborative and flexible. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Take on the tasks that others may not want. You’ll soon be recognized as a true leader.”