The Airbus Foundation recently refocused its mission around three core pillars: Humanitarian Aid, Youth Education and Environment. And with the new strategy comes new leadership. Rachel Schroeder, Airbus Foundation Managing Director, offers insight into her role and provides an update on some key initiatives.
5 questions with Rachel Schroeder, Airbus Foundation Managing Director
Q. You were named Managing Director of the Airbus Foundation in 2021. Can you describe your role?
My first responsibility is to continue the amazing work the Airbus Foundation has carried out over the years – much of which is still going strong today, from humanitarian aid to youth development – while also developing the new “environment” pillar. The Airbus Foundation is the company’s principal vehicle for corporate philanthropy, so we’re committed to bringing together Airbus products, services and people to help address the challenges of today's society. One way we do this involves strategic partnerships with well-established global and key local organisations. My priority is to ensure we’re working with our partners in a constructive and efficient way, while staying on top of evolving trends and addressing the increased challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which touch all three of the Foundation’s pillars. And, of course, in the short term, my role is to implement the new strategy that was validated by the Board in 2020.
Q. Can you describe this new “environment” pillar in more detail?
The environment is an area in which the Airbus Foundation has worked in the past but our emphasis has since shifted. Now, we’re focusing on supporting existing partners and collaborating with new ones to help address climate change and human impact on the environment.
To be clear, as a corporate foundation, we don’t carry out work that directly supports Airbus’ business objectives. However, through Airbus, we have access to products and services in climate assessment and prediction that are immensely valuable. Our goal is to pursue partnerships that will bring the power of our products and services to help in the fight against climate change.
I believe the Airbus Foundation has a key role to play in society, particularly by helping to address the increased challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also climate change.
- Rachel Schroeder, Airbus Foundation Managing Director
Q. What other specific initiatives are currently being put into place?
The Airbus Foundation has committed to working closely with its global ecosystem of youth and STEM partners to ensure the continuity of existing programmes – transforming some activities to keep the link established between mentors and mentees. With the new strategy, our three youth programmes (i.e. the Flying Challenge, Airbus Little Engineer and Airbus Foundation Discovery Space) will be integrated under the umbrella of the Discovery Space brand. The objective of this change is to leverage existing digital content while working towards delivering more impact. We’re developing fun and accessible (downloadable) content, as well as hands-on and in-depth activities to spark enthusiasm for STEM.
We’re also in the process of setting up an Advisory Council to draw in additional support and advice, and to challenge us to think differently. An employee impact platform that will enable employees across Airbus to get involved is also in the works. Finally, we’ve set up a new Endowment Fund that will give employees and people outside Airbus the opportunity to donate directly to the Foundation.
Q. Can you tell us more about your local community efforts?
Yes, enabling employee engagement is something we want to see more of. We know Airbus employees want to contribute positively to society: in particular, they want to support their local communities. This is why we’re working to deliver a new community platform to facilitate direct contact to over 2 million charities and associations around the world. More information to come in the second half of the year.
Q. What do you look forward to most in this role?
I believe the Airbus Foundation has a key role to play in society, particularly by helping to address the increased challenges due to the current pandemic and also climate change. I look forward to leading the Airbus Foundation as we continue to remain an active contributor to positive change.