Business

United’s first female manager in Denver oversees airline’s fastest-growing hub


United planes line up at gates on the B concourse at Denver International Airport on March 26, 2024. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)
United planes line up at gates on the B concourse at Denver International Airport on March 26, 2024. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

McGrath then went to United’s headquarters in Chicago to work as a business analyst in information technology. The company was developing a new computer system for the frontline agents. She said she didn’t know the “technical stuff.”

“But I understood the job because I’d worked on the front line for many years, and I trained on our system that we were working on,” McGrath. “My job was to tell them what we needed the system to do to best serve our customers.”

When she talks to United employees, especially other women, McGrath said she advises people to take risks and learn new things.

“My first risk was when I went to Minneapolis. I was a single mom and I decided that I wanted a career with United, so I took that leap of faith and moved somewhere new,” McGrath said.

Other stops along the way before landing in Denver included managing United’s operations at airports in Miami, Orlando and Tampa in Florida, and Seattle and Los Angeles. During that time, McGrath said the number of women in leadership positions at United has grown.

“I still sit in rooms where there aren’t a lot of females, but it is growing. Over my 35 years, that growth is noticeable,” McGrath said. “Since my announcement as (vice president) in Denver, we’ve had two more female VP announcements in airport operations.”

McGrath believes United recognizes that women can bring a different perspective to the job. “It doesn’t always have to be that same group of males who have always followed that track or have done that job.”

During a United event for Women’s History Month, McGrath told a crowd at a gate on DIA’s B concourse about growing up in a family that was entrepreneurial. As a teenager, she did the books for the family business.

McGrath said she has also always looked for opportunities in the workplace. “Whenever they said we’re looking for people to take this job, take on this project, I raised my hand because I wanted to learn more.”

Jonna McGrath speaks during an interview from her offices at Denver International Airport on March 26, 2024. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)
Jonna McGrath speaks during an interview from her offices at Denver International Airport on March 26, 2024. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

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