It takes a team to be successful!

Layla Schwarz-McCray at basketball training

As Manager Marketing & Communications at Lufthansa Systems, Layla Schwarz-McCray handles an impressive range of tasks, and she sees parallels between her job and her passion: basketball.

Layla is responsible for Marketing & Communications in the Americas region. Focusing on event management, i.e. the planning, organization and execution of events for our customers. Of course, this also includes the promotion of the Americas events on social media. She usually works at our location in Dallas, Texas.

If you would like to learn more about Layla's work at Lufthansa Systems, watch her video (at the end of the blog post). Feel free to also check Layla’s LinkedIn profile here.

During our conversation, I noticed Layla's impressive size and above all, her unmistakable Swiss accent when we talk in German.

Where does your special accent come from?

I was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Zurich, Switzerland. At 17 years old, I left Switzerland to pursue my dreams to become a WNBA basketball player.

That's exciting. Where did you play?

Oh, I've played for several teams in different countries:

  • in College, at the Oklahoma Baptist University
  • in the US: for the Colorado Chill (NWBL) and Dallas Diesel (WBCBL); Singed a training camp contract with the LA Sparks (WNBA)
  • in Spain: for Division1 and 2 teams, with whom I traveled to other countries
  • in Switzerland: for the Swiss National team
  • in Brazil: I joined a travel team
  • in Japan: 3x3 tournament


How did you come to Lufthansa Systems?

My first internship was at American Airline, it opened my eye to the aviation industry. Thus, I'd seek job opportunities in the aviation industry. I'd like to highlight, that the aviation industry has always played an important part in my life. It was the reason that I was able to see my family and it took me to new places for basketball.


How is your basketball experience helping you in your career?

Basketball is a team sport, and you have a coach that orchestrates it all. You work with a rich variety of people from different countries, speaking different languages and having different skills, everyone works to reach a common goal. There can be a variety of goals; to win a game, win a tournament or make history, whatever it maybe everyone is working together to reach that goal. Yes, the coach sets the expectations and controls many things on and off the court, but in a game the players are out on the court making the decisions. As a player you have to learn fast, be flexible, make quick decisions, deal with distractions and criticism, take responsibility, problem solve, cope with stress and deal with failure. Sound familiar? I am not claiming that I have mastered all of these skills but I can say that I have a lot of experience in being in those kind of situations.

In marketing, you can plan and schedule and plan again, however for all of those who have managed an event know that things don’t always go as planned. In these situations, it is good to be flexible, learn from the situation, problem solve and make decisions. At Lufthansa Systems I have the opportunity to work with a range of people with different skills and I feel comfort in knowing that in areas where I may not be so skilled, I can reach out to a colleague for help and vice versa.



But you also support the community!

I volunteer twice per week, supporting my husband Willie McCray. The goal is to give back to the community by teaching kids the game of basketball, but with that, comes a whole list of skills they learn along the way, just to name a few:

  1. Active lifestyle: by making practice fun
  2. Learning to getting along with teammates
  3. Confidence: Basketball is not a sport where you can be afraid or passive, as you learn and practice you gain more confidence.
  4. Treating teammates, coaches and referees with respect
  5. How to deal with losing a game
  6. Managing conflict: In basketball there are moments where the tension is high and there is a great chance of conflict on the court or locker room, this is where it is important to know what to do and what not to do
  7. Focus: there are a lot of distractions in basketball, with practice you learn to tune those out and focus.
  8. It takes self-discipline to work as a team
  9. Following game rules and adapt to the different styles the referees call the games.

All kids are welcome to join the 90-minute session. We also set-up games for them and are looking to host a 3x3 tournament in the future. Sometimes we surprise the kids with guests from Japan, Australia or China. This gives the kids an opportunity, to learn about basketball from a different perspective. Yes, believe it or not, there is a difference in how the game is played in every country/region.

It is a lot of fun to see the kids grow and gain skill that they will use for the rest of their lives.


What in your opinion makes a good team?

Although individual achievements may often stand out, it takes a team working together to win a championship.



Embedded video for It takes a team to be successful!


Santiago Brunt's picture

Very nice blog. I have the privilege to work with Layla and I must say that the passion and teamwork she applies in sports certainly reflects on her daily job. Thank you for sharing the story!