Sandy Stelling Teaser

My Soaring Together Story: The Power of Teamwork, Sandy Stelling ’91

After graduating from Lehigh University in 1991 with a BS in mechanical engineering, Sandy Stelling joined The Boeing Company, working as a senior engineer for 8 years. She went on to join Alaska Airlines, starting as a project manager and, over the course of 22 years, making her way up to Vice President of Strategy, Analytics & Transformation, where she resides now. Sandy has a passion for connection, putting an emphasis on teamwork in all of her endeavors.

Why did you decide to come to Lehigh?
The biggest appeal to me was Lehigh’s engineering program, which has a great reputation. Lehigh was also recommended to me by one of my classmates from high school who was a year ahead of me. The beautiful campus and generous financial support, which made it possible for me to attend, solidified my decision.

If you were in a major that skewed male, how did you navigate through that?
One of the things you learn about yourself at Lehigh, male or female, is that you have grit. Attending Lehigh allowed me to develop my self-confidence, perseverance and commitment to mission. I learned to compete in order to grow, not necessarily to win. I grew up as a team sports athlete, and I always knew that nothing was worth doing without a team — this was true at Lehigh, too. My major, mechanical engineering, was 10% female. Being one of ten women in mechanical engineering felt lonely at times, and is something I still experience in my profession, but even when I was the only woman in the group at Lehigh, we were a team. The mechanical engineers would come together, male and female, to study, solve problems and learn together, each of us bringing value to the table. 

How did your friendships and relationships with other women at Lehigh shape your student experience?
My friendships with women at Lehigh shaped my student experience tremendously. I think my senior year living situation is the best testament to the richness of my experience: I lived in a house on Birkel with five other girls, all sharing one bathroom! We were all studying different majors — chemical engineering, accounting, business, psychology, and philosophy — which made for a diverse set of thinking in the house. I love them all dearly, and we’ve stayed close throughout the years.

What are you doing now?
I am the Vice President of Strategy, Analytics & Transformation at Alaska Airlines in Seattle, Washington, where I’ve worked for 22 years. I am a chair on the Woodland Park Zoo Board, Education Advisory committee member for the Boeing Academy for STEM Learning at the Museum of Flight, and newly appointed Trustee to the Lehigh University Board of Trustees. I’m also a proud wife, friend, sister, stepmom to 2 daughters, and “geema” to 3 grandkids.

How did your experience as a woman at Lehigh prepare you for the professional and person you are today?
My time at Lehigh did wonders for my confidence — it made me realize I am smart, capable and worthy. My experiences also allowed me to learn a lot about myself and develop a deeper connection to my values and beliefs, especially my belief in the power of teamwork and building connections. Then, of course, I learned and honed skills I've used throughout my life.