It was the fast-paced environment, ever-changing atmosphere, and ability to make a difference that drew Castleton alumna Ali Flewelling ‘11 into a career in business communications. As a Communications Business Partnerships Manager at BAE Systems, a global aerospace and defense company based in Nashua, New Hampshire, the Green Mountain State native embraces the challenges of each new day in the office and has built a thriving career that spans multiple industries.
“My company does meaningful work protecting our nation’s service men and women. We have a purposeful mission that drives many of us to put our best foot forward each day,” explained Flewelling, who has been with the company for just over four years. “It’s a place where, if you raise your hand and have a good idea, people will listen, support you, and give you a chance to prove yourself.”
In her role, Flewelling leads a team of executive communications professionals who serve as trusted advisors to the company’s senior executives. Her duties include helping to drive message alignment and providing strategic internal and external communication support for the Electronic Systems sector’s seven business areas, spanning commercial and defense markets, which employ more than 15,000 employees across 26 sites in the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico.
The company atmosphere is amongst one of the most cherished aspects of her job, which she states brings together a strong sense of collaboration, mentorship, continued learning, community engagement, and creative freedom.
“I am lucky to be surrounded by such talented and dedicated people every day. People with diverse perspective and backgrounds who come together to solve some of our customers’ toughest problems. It gives me energy and purpose to feel part of something bigger,” she said.
Throughout both her personal and professional journey, Flewelling has remained a life-long learner, adding new skills to her toolbox and constantly drawing inspiration from those who are most important and influencial to her, including her parents, fiancé, family, friends, and co-workers.
“A lot of that comes from my family and my upbringing. Both of my parents were educators, and they always supported me and encouraged me to explore the things that interested me,” she explained. “They let me figure things out on my own, let me fail, and taught me lessons along the way, something I now try to do with my school-aged stepson.”
When not manning the BAE Systems communications channels, Flewelling can be found not only enjoying and appreciating music, but also creating it. She has spent more than two decades sharing her talented vocal abilities with audiences both large and small, including several guest appearances at Castleton’s own annual gala.
“I am a big music fan,” she said, adding that concerts, live music, and lyrical writing are amongst her favorite pastimes. “I like to sing, and used to be in a band when I lived in Vermont. You can still find me occasionally on my visits home singing with my friend Aaron Audet, who is also a Castleton graduate, though I don’t get to do it as much as I would like.”
Her commitment to creating a sense of community does not stop there. She is also an active member of the BAE Systems young professionals community, whose goal is to bring together employees from across the company to connect for social networking, professional development, and community outreach activities, and the founder of the group’s New Hampshire chapter. Some of her group’s most recent local community-based projects include installing raised bed gardens so that neighbors in need have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, raising money for local non-profit organizations, and building tiny libraries in underrepresented neighborhoods.
“I still smile every time I drive by one and see someone taking or leaving a book,” she reminisced.
At the end of the day, it is the culmination of Flewelling’s various Castleton experiences as a Media and Communication major that have helped prepare her for life post-graduation. From her dedicated professors who found unique ways to instill pride, drive, and excitement in her as a student and the diverse curriculum that provided her with an abundance of life skills, to the hands-on experiences of local freelance writing and internship opportunities, she credits her time as a Spartan for laying a solid foundation for her continued growth.
“Castleton prepared me for success as a communications professional by exposing me to all facets of communication during my degree program, including those that were outside my comfort zone,” stated Flewelling. “Castleton truly lived up to its ‘small college with a big heart’ motto and just felt right. It felt like home and it still does today.”
Her advice for others stems from lessons learned and age-old advice.
“Believe in yourself and be your own biggest fan. It is something I have carried with me throughout life, and it will serve you well no matter what leg of the journey you are on,” she said. “Have confidence, but stay humble and you will attract others who will enrich your life. We are all better off when we support one another.”
Hear more about Ali Flewelling's story as she presents as part of our virtual Every Woman has a Story: Alumni Edition event in celebration of Women's History Month at Castleton on Wednesday, March 24 at 7 pm.