Monica Badra: Powering Aviation’s Digital Transformation through NextGen Solutions

Top 7 Aviation and Aerospace Companies of the Year 2023

With entrepreneurship at the core, Monica Badra, Co-Founder and CEO of Neo NextGen currently runs a consulting business in aerospace transformation services and digital solutions. She also leads few side hustles in real estate, crypto bots, paperless apps, artificial intelligence and machine learning models, E-commerce businesses on Amazon and Etsy, as well as her role as a Board member and Strategic Advisor for startup companies in Web3.

Monica is a transformation enthusiast with a track record of elevating organizations, unlocking incremental value and driving efficiencies with strategy and execution at the core. Monica’s main source of energy comes from constant challenge and learning. She also has a wide realm of interests spanning from aviation to behavioral finance, investment portfolio management, trading, disruptive technologies, as well as Web3; crypto, NFTs, the Metaverse, digital twins and virtual reality.

She saw “The Matrix” for what it was at a very young age. “In a few years from now, our avatars in the Metaverse will live a better lifestyle than we do in reality. What if we treated this as the Metaverse?”

Her path had difficulties at every turn. Her self-assurance, outspoken personality, energy and quest for knowledge occasionally sparked conflict. She loved disrupting the status quo and optimizing how we did things yesterday. Her mission was to further her personal development, which she worked hard to achieve in a corporate machine.

From her years negotiating with her dad at the dinner table, Monica had an innate business sense. From her years in corporate, Monica learned operational depth and harnessed a network of mentors and eventually partners and customers for her new venture, Neo NextGen.

Childhood Learnings for Leading

Monica always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur like her father. In the 1980s, both of her parents moved from Lebanon as a result of the Civil War. Her mother relocated to Canada together with her family to start over. It was never an option to pursue a career while residing in the turmoil of war. She soon after got married and had three kids. At the age of 40, she returned to school to earn a degree as a certified gemologist and she eventually started her own jewelry business, with the goal of modernizing pearls.

Father of Monica arrived in Canada with little after losing his parents when he was a teenager. In a variety of sectors, including construction, ink, real estate, restaurants, apparel, décor, mineral mining and now blockchain, he established enterprises from the ground up.

Monica took a lot of pride in leading by example as the eldest of three. Both daughters and son were raised as businessmen in a somewhat unconventional family.

Joining Corporate World

Monica approached life with an immense sense of gratitude. She paved her own path and charted her own course. Not knowing where to start in her career, she knew she needed to ground herself and learn the fundamental skills that could only be learned in the corporate world. While completing her degree in finance, she worked in large corporations to understand process, structure, breadth and depth, with the goal of eventually running her own enterprise. She worked at Mckesson Canada as a change adoption analyst and then at Bombardier, in the transformation office of the corporate jet aftermarket, where she learned business analytics, process engineering and managed large, strategic projects in product development, strategic sales planning, delivery and operations, customer experience and account management, technology and digital, human resources, change management and finance functions.

Monica then joined AJW Technique, a world class MRO hub located in Montreal, Canada where she led a two-year transformation as the Head of Strategy and Business Development and right hand to the Chief Executive Officer. She enabled the company to hit their targets with a clear strategy and clean-sheet of internal data and processes. Within few months, the C-Suite was able to access visualization boards that gave them a 360-degree view of the company at their fingertips. Key performance indicators were established, goals were achieved and the firm became profitable in its first year of transformation.

After a successful two-year transformation, AJW Technique went from strategize, optimize and finally to digitize. As part of her role, Monica took the initiative to autonomously lead the digital transformation with the aim of turning AJW Technique into a paperless MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) organization, giving it a competitive edge in a dynamic market. Neo NextGen was then established as the forefront of strategy, innovation, optimization and digital transformation, empowering the next generation of aerospace disruptors and pioneers with unique support and services.

A Keen Observer

With her competitive spirit, and zest for learning, Monica always took on more than was expected of her. She spent the first years of her career observing leaders in a corporate environment and building her own leadership style, knowing that it was a steppingstone for her future endeavors.

She defines her style in 3 pillars:

  • Mindset
  • Action
  • Perspective

Some of her key mottos for each are:

For being aware of mindset:

  • Confidence comes with knowing your worth – make it your life’s mission before all
  • There is beauty in ambition – be bold
  • Design your own destiny – this is the Metaverse
  • Fear is an illusion of the mind
  • Your mindset defines your experience
  • Opportunity doesn’t fall from the sky, seek it and seize it
  • Pursue uphill climbs, steady roads mean you’re going the wrong way
  • Comfort is a trap
  • Anything redundant has an opportunity cost
  • Knowledge is power – keep learning
  • Drama drains your brain cells

For Taking Action:

  • Everything is figure-out-able
  • Nothing is impossible
  • Start somewhere and method will come
  • Jack of all trades, master of none
  • Run in order to walk
  • Build a routine even within chaos
  • Time is money – slow down for no one
  • Intention matters more than approach
  • Read the room, this is your greatest weapon
  • If you’re #2, learn from #1, then become #1
  • Constantly ask for feedback
  • Play to win or to learn
  • Life is a a series of choices, responsibilities are also choices

For Having Perspective:

  • There are 8 billion people on earth, you will survive
  • Be grateful, before you complain, then don’t
  • Your voice is a scarce commodity, you have a responsibility to use it
  • Be a listener – this is your purpose
  • Everything happens for a reason

Neo NextGen

Neo NextGen is a renowned provider of business and digital transformation services, from strategy to operations, with a focus on sustainability, unlocking incremental value, centred on an ethos of people, productivity and profit. Aerospace transformers powering digital workflow.

Neo NextGen offers professional management consulting, advanced business analytics, process re-engineering, project management, business transformation, and digital transformation services to connect the end-to-end user experience.

The company’s winning transformation recipe is applied in three phases – Strategize. Optimize. Digitize.

  • Strategize – Vision and value creation across product, sales, delivery and customer experience
  • Optimize – Integrated data and process driven workflows             
  • Digitize – Creating connected, streamlined efficiency with disruptive technology

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across all compass points and industries, as organizations struggled to preserve cash and streamline their cost structure by optimizing headcount, inventory, and lease management. Most businesses have made use of the downtime to simplify processes, reevaluate strategies, and overhaul every area of their operations, beginning with people, process, and data and moving quickly into technology.

Neo NextGen has helped organizations realize exponential potential with a tried and tested approach. The company was founded to ensure startups and established aerospace corporations alike have access to advanced technologies to enable efficiency and workflow connecting the end-to-end customer experience in real time.

Aerospace is a good example of an industry that is compliance-heavy, dependent on deep technical expertise and often manual transactions, which impact an organization’s ability to deliver heightened turnaround time, cost, quality and supply chain efficiency.

The sector is especially dependent on tribal knowledge, and is facing growing labour concerns with retirement, skill gaps and recruitment challenges, propelling digital as a core enabler for sustainability, efficiency and employee value proposition. Many aerospace companies have clung to dated business models, methods, and technologies out of comfort and resistance to change. Neo NextGen challenges organizations to think differently, partnering to efficiently leverage modern technologies for established or startup organizations, making them more relevant, competitive, and efficient in every aspect.

Delivering a unique digital approach.  It begins with inception and moves to incubation, where Neo NextGen partners with its customer to build a solid foundation for business transformation and digitalization with business sponsors and a cross-section of the workforce, the incubator or innovation team. Both parties work together to identify high priority pain points. Once identified, they work on designing the solution. Then, Neo NextGen engages its ecosystem to test use cases with different technology partners in order to deliver the best mix of technology to workflow.

After engaging an incubator or innovation team, who are the main users and change agents from within the business, Neo NextGen acts as a broker of technology partners. Harnessing an ecosystem of partners who are technology experts within their field, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain, RFID technology, paperless web applications, robotics, and augmented reality, ensuring Neo NexGen delivers the application that is fit for purpose.

Neo NextGen is at the forefront of strategy, innovation, optimization and digital transformation in this field, empowering the next generation of aerospace disruptors and pioneers with unique support and services.

With decades of aerospace experience, Neo NextGen is the founding glue that translate the operational workflow of aerospace to direct technology experts. This is a significant relief for the customer, who would otherwise spend time educating suppliers on the complexities of aerospace.

With AJW Technique as a use case in aerospace, Neo NextGen has developed solutions to capture tribal knowledge and facilitate training of new hires, liberating the senior and more skilled workforce.

Some proofs of concept include paperless applications, dynamic pricing models, predictive sales, procurement, and manpower forecasting models using artificial intelligence and machine learning, asset tracking using RFID technology, and customer portals.

  1. In addition to developing these solutions, Neo NextGen creates a culture of development and learning with their customers’ incubator. Digital transformation has become part of the employee value proposition, engaging a younger generation that may otherwise have more interest in eVTOL (Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicle), drones, blockchain, and other engineering opportunities outside of traditional aerospace. 

The company’s digital roadmap is reflective of global trends with the goal of introducing next-generation solutions to all industries. Other technology on the radar includes performance gaming systems, digital twins, virtual reality, drone applications, additive layers, NFT collections, converging slower moving industries into the Metaverse.

Balancing Challenges

Monica feels excited by challenge. She states, Understand what gets people excited to get out of bed every morning and make it your mission to be an endless supply of that source.” Her best past employers knew how to keep her stimulated. They gave Monica a breadth of projects and responsibilities from every function of the business, keeping her on a constant learning journey.

In her spare time, Monica looks into new businesses she wants to start, be it an investment fund, real estate, affiliate marketing programs, Amazon FBA, delivering a course on blockchain, setting up crypto bots, building apps that deliver financial and start-up guidance, buying a component repair shop of her own, etc. She often sacrificed her social life to build her empire – herself. She states, “Two people with the same upbringing can go down two opposite paths, and it’s all to do with mindset.”

Always an Uphill Climb

In Monica’s view, success represents ultimate freedom, abundant learning, and perpetual growth. She views her mindset as a mountain with endless uphill climbs. As she reaches a horizontal road, she feels stagnant, it’s a sign that she has gone the wrong way. She banks her journey and her learnings and proceeds to the next challenge or uphill climb.

Monica fears comfort. She sees no difference in the cycle of product development and a human’s life. She asserts, “The same way a product becomes better with more data, testing, and feedback, we become better business leaders and human beings with more experiences, challenges, and retrospection. Why pause the cycle that can lead us to greatness.”

For Monicathe transition from employee to entrepreneur was challenging but very rewarding. She opines, “There is no playbook that exists for young entrepreneurs to know where to start, which is the hardest part.” She wants to dedicate much of her time to coaching and redirecting young adults onto a path of success, starting with adopting a mindset of awareness and building confidence that attracts the right opportunities. She mentions that she owes it to the mentors who have taken her under their wing.

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