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While her title is Environmental Strategy Specialist at GE Aviation, Jieun Kirtley is a maker, storyteller, advocate, dreamer and Ecomagination leader. As a design engineer, she’s worked on the powerful, fuel-efficient GEnx engine and the GE90 engine’s high-pressure turbine nozzle. In between those projects, she received her masters from MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, studying economic and climate policies related to deforestation credits and carbon price volatility. Now, she focuses on environmental strategy, shaping Aviation’s technology innovation story to help customers understand both operational and environmental benefits. She also works with internal technical and marketing teams to understand regulations and standards, to anticipate impacts for future projects and to see how Aviation can take a strong lead to enable a more sustainable industry for the future.

“We obviously make technologies, but there’s more to the story,” she says. “There’s how humans interact with it and how it interacts with the environment.” That larger story is what keeps her excited about her work and proud to be a passionate voice for Ecomagination.

“A lot of what impacts our customers in terms of the bottom line goes hand-in-hand with Ecomagination’s focus on environmental benefit: fuel burn, fuel consumption and reducing the carbon footprint, for example,” she notes. What drives her interest more personally, she says, is the human side of this, “making sure that people’s lives and livelihoods are not negatively impacted by technology and issues like emissions and noise.” While engineering know-how is critical, she says, “Ecomagination plays a huge role in showing that we have practical solutions to meet all these goals, and that we need GE businesses to help support the solutions.”

“We’re trying to instill a common mission for everybody,” Jieun continues, “that we take the environment seriously, and that this needs to be part of the discussion going forward. We need current solutions to get to the future, as well as future solutions to enable forward vision. It’s a question of how everyone can help, because no one person is going to be able to provide a solution.”

Jieun’s emphasis on a collective effort is a hallmark of how she speaks about the importance of her team’s and Ecomagination’s work. “If we want to move towards a reduced carbon future,” she points out, “it needs to come from everywhere. It’s a global problem, and we can’t get to a specific goal if everyone doesn’t contribute.” Her tact is to keep a broad perspective, something she learned early in her life, having lived on three continents and across the U.S., in areas with different local cultures and norms. Talking about the short- and long-term urgency of sustainability and Ecomagination’s vision, she says, “It’s important to take a proactive approach and consider solutions early on rather than facing things when they will be harder to address.” Reflecting on her personal motivation for joining this collective project, she says, “I’m passionate about working in this area, and if you’re passionate, why not do it?”

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