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Talk to Ridgway native Linda Scott for a while and you will quickly be able to see that she isn't one to let grass grow under her feet; in fact, for a long time she preferred the sky to the ground as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. Since 2010, she has used her previous experiences in the military and in the healthcare industry as a regional sales manager/general manager on the worldwide sales team for Southeast Asia for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, where she is responsible for all helicopter sales in her territory in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar.
Scott is the daughter of Larry and Charlene Scott of Ridgway. She has one brother, Casey Scott, who is married to Yvonne (Weisner) Scott, and they have two boys, Jacob, 10, and Aaron, 8.
Scott noted there were a number of people who influenced her while she was growing up, particularly during her experience as a Girl Scout.
"I was a proud member of the Girl Scouts in the Keystone Tall Tree area and had a number of mentors there, from Mary Lou Riegel to Tecla Pontious to Mrs. Nearing, as well as my mom, who was there with me through all Girl Scout activities," Scott said. "I achieved my Gold Award when I was a junior in high school."
She graduated from Ridgway Area High School in 1988 as the valedictorian of her class. With her smarts and determination, she continued her education, attending the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1992, then trained as a BLACK HAWK helicopter pilot at the U.S. Army Rotary Wing School. In 2001, she earned an Executive MBA from the University of Delaware.
Scott enjoyed serving her country as a BLACK HAWK helicopter pilot with the U.S. Army, serving as both a platoon leader and a battalion liaison officer with the 6th Battalion, 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division in Ft. Campbell, Ky. Â
"I was an intelligence helicopter pilot with a top-secret security clearance, leading the only BLACK HAWK intelligence helicopter platform-- QUICK FIX, basically a mini AWACs, in the 101st," Scott said. "I had a knee injury that unfortunately resulted in a medical discharge after four years, two months and six days in the military."
After her military career ended, she held a number of sales, marketing and general management positions, and was in the health care field for 14 years.
"I started in sales with Pfizer Pharmaceutical Group as a pharmaceutical representative [on the eastern shore of Maryland and Delaware], and and then a hospital representative based in Newark, Del.," Scott said. "Then I made a jump to marketing in Pfizer Animal Health, where I held positions as an associate product manager in Exton, Pa., then product manager in New York, N.Y."
Scott said due to the industry contacts she made in the veterinary industry while working with Pfizer, she was offered the opportunity to run Karl Storz Veterinary Endoscopy-America, Inc., a small veterinary medical device company in Goleta, Calif. She was with the company for three years as the president and general manager, and took on quite a challenge during her tenure.
"There I restructured the company and turned around a company that had not been profitable in 12 years into a profitable and viable company," Scott said.
After her work to turn around Karl Storz, she moved on to her next position, where she continued to serve in leadership roles.
"From California, I went to GE Healthcare in Wisconsin, where I served as marketing manager of their radiology ultrasound products, then soon moved to the international business manager for MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS), where my role was to oversee General Electric's investment interest in the Israeli start-up Insightec, and provide marketing and strategic counsel as required," Scott said.
A hard-charging professional and a go-to problem-solver who was highly successful in several career areas by the time she became an international business manager at GE, Scott said she started to begin feeling the need for a breather. Of course, that meant something different to her than it would to most people-- instead of a well-deserved vacation or finding a less high-energy position, Scott hit the gritty city streets to begin serving some of the country's neediest citizens.
"At this point, after 11 years running hard in the business, I took a break for a year and went to Brooklyn, N.Y. to work with the homeless," Scott said. "I was the community director for 2/3 of Brooklyn for Common Ground Community's Street to Home program. My team was responsible for getting nearly 100 homeless off the street in our first six months, outpacing nearly all other teams in NYC."
After a year, she returned to the healthcare field as director of marketing for Covidien, a medical device company in Norwalk, Conn. The story of how she became a helicopter sales manager and director started there, as Scott recalled.
"And now, after nearly 14 years in healthcare, I find myself at a friend's clambake talking to an executive council member of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation over a glass of wine. The conversation came up as to whether, after so many years away from the helicopter market, would a company like Sikorsky be interested in looking at someone like me," Scott said. "He said he was from healthcare, and Sikorsky is always looking for good people and to send him my resume-- a year later, I had an offer from Sikorsky."
As she began her new position with Sikorsky, Scott said she realized the fit was right and had been something she was looking for.
"Of all of the years in healthcare, and with all of my success, I just never felt at home or settled. I was successful, but was never really happy or content with my job, as I am not sure the industry was the right fit for me," Scott said. "Despite all of the frustrations of international helicopter sales, I love my job, I love the industry, I love being back around helicopters and
pilots, and I have never felt better about a job than I do my current one.
"It is complex and challenging--and never a dull moment--selling helicopters. I have the opportunity to travel around the world and experience people and business in a number of cultures."
While Scott has had a number of achievements over her career, one in particular sticks out to her.
"I think my biggest achievement in my mind was the turnaround of Karl Storz Veterinary Endoscopy. The company had been in business for 12 years and had never turned a profit. When I arrived, we were borrowing cash from our sister company to pay payroll," Scott said. "When I left, the company had been 'right-sized'/reorganized for more efficient operations, we were a profitable company able to stand on our own, and we had paid all of our debts with our sister companies and had made a substantial dent in paying down the 12 years of accumulated debt from our parent company. Â
"And, I built a high-performance team, half of which I stay in touch with still today."
Scott also had a more recent career victory which she is especially proud of-- a helicopter project win in Brunei.
"It was my first campaign I led with Sikorsky," Scott said. "And after just 1 1/2 years with the company and leading that campaign, we were selected as the winner over [the] U.S. (Bell), Italian (AgustaWestland) and French (Eurocopter) competition to become the OEM selected to replace the Royal Brunei Air Force Support Helicopters. The first installment was for 12 helicopters valued at $320 million, with future options for another 10 helicopters valued at $280 million."
Scott said she continues to believe she is in the right job because it both challenges her and lets her feel comfortable.
"Being a helicopter pilot from the U.S. Army, I feel at home when talking about helicopters with my military customers. I feel like I have returned to my roots," Scott said. "Despite all of the years away from the industry, I still speak a common language with pilots.
"And, this business is complex. I generally get bored easily, and I have yet to get bored selling helicopters in Asia. I am learning something new every day. This work is stimulating and fun-- and at the same time frustrating and exhausting, the perfect job for my Type-A personality."
In her personal life, Scott prefers to take it easy-- somewhat.
"I have to say that I have become fairly boring-- enjoying cooking, gardening, hiking, biking and rollerblading. I live with my boyfriend in Milford, Conn., where outside of my work, we lead a very nice quiet life," Scott said. "However, earlier in my single days, I was a competitive amateur triathlete while in flight school in Alabama, then moved into doing century bike rides when I was in Maryland and Delaware with Pfizer."
Despite her extensive travel, Scott still manages to visit family and friends in her hometown.
"I miss the simple life of Ridgway. As you can see, my life has not exactly been simple and I appreciate coming back to Ridgway and the calm of it," Scott said. "And, being from 'the mountains,' I find that no matter where in the world I go, I always favor going somewhere that ultimately reminds me of 'home.' And it is always somewhere in the mountains where I am surrounded by trees and where there is not a lot of hustle and bustle of people and cities.
"I do not get back as much as I would like, but I do get back to Ridgway a few times a year, which I try to time when my brother and his family are home so I can see everyone. I think we all are very happy to be back in Elk County. After all, that is our home, regardless of where we are currently living or where we have been."