The private jet companies promote diversity in business aviation
It’s been almost 90 years since American aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Atlantic, but the legacy she left behind flies on. The adventuress rose to fame in the 1920s and 30s, when aviation was a predominantly male industry, and made waves as the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her various incredible feats inspired many women to follow her flight path but there is still a long way to go as the industry is equal. For example, the International Society of Female Airline Pilots recently revealed that female pilots make up just over 5% of the total pilot population worldwide, while there is still a lack of diversity on C-suite boards in the industry. However, there are many women making strides to break glass ceilings and encouraging others to do the same.
On International Women’s Day, I look at some of the pioneering women who are paving the way for women in private aviation, from captains and pilots to C-suite executives and business leaders.
With 6% female pilots on the crew, private airline VistaJet is above the industry average. But women in business are not only to be found in the cockpit. VistaJet’s female employees “are essential to every part of the journey,” I’m told, given that women hold positions in every sector from aircraft maintenance to trading and sales.
Two of VistaJet’s most inspiring trailblazers are Léa Thiery, Captain of the Global 6000 who is also Vice President of the Women in Aviation International Riviera Chapter; and Emma Heering, Captain on the Challenger 605 and Type Rating Examiner. Both captains are equally committed to encouraging more women and girls to pursue a career as a pilot.
Click here to find out what happened when I interviewed Léa Thiery about her experiences as a female captain in the male-dominated world of private aviation.
When it comes to the proportion of female pilots employed by private jet companies, it’s hard to beat Planet Nine, whose crew boasts an impressive 11% proportion of female pilots — a figure the company says is about three times that figure like the national average.
Claire Schindler, Global XRS/5000 Pilot Claire Schindler is one such woman. Described as a “pioneer” and “active force” within the industry, Schindler was inspired to get into aviation at the age of 16 by American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. “I’m a big believer in ‘if you can see her, you can be her,’ because I never thought about being a pilot until my dad took me to see Amelia Earhart at the Air and Space Museum,” she says. “I still get dizzy when I go to work, so I’m living the dream I wished I had as a 10-year-old me.”
The company has also recruited women for senior management positions, including Sales Director Kirti Odera, who has worked her way up the ranks in the industry over the past 12 years; and Chief of Inflight Services Hilary Clark.
Uma Subramanian, CEO of semi-private aerospace company Aero Technologies, is a force to be reckoned with. She can look back on an impressive curriculum vitae, which is characterized by positions at leading manufacturers such as Airbus and Rolls-Royce and pioneering programs such as the Mars project. Now, as head of the young but promising company, she is trying to pave the way back to a time when flying was much more enjoyable by offering passengers the experience of private jet travel at a fraction of the cost of a business charter. An impressive ambition from an equally impressive woman.
Click here to find out what happened when I interviewed you about the future of flying and the pros and cons of being a female executive in business aviation.
One area of business aviation where women are increasingly present is in marketing. Kate Thomas, director of marketing and communications at on-demand jet charter company Victor, is not only making a name for herself as a female executive, but also as an advocate for sustainability. She is responsible for driving the company’s breakthrough strategies to reduce carbon emissions through an international multichannel Marcomms strategy.
Click here to learn more about the pioneering work Thomas and the Victor team have done to advance Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) development and awareness.
Another influential marketing expert is Lauren Kinelski, Jetcraft’s vice president of marketing. For the past seven years, she has led a global marketing team dedicated to building brand awareness, marketing aircraft inventory and building unique experiences for aircraft owners. Although this is her first role in aviation, she brings a strong background in luxury brand communications.
While not a private jet company, special mention goes to Winch Design, which today announced the launch of the Women in Business Aviation network. The British design company behind many groundbreaking aircraft interiors founded the initiative with the aim of celebrating inspiring women in the industry and encouraging the next generation of women to enter the industry. It is a similar endeavor to Damen Yachting’s Women in Yachting network and members can look forward to face-to-face networking events at key forums around the world – the first being at EBAC2023 in Geneva at the end of May. The network was, of course, founded by female Winch executives, including Marketing Director Lisa Stratton.
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