From senior cabin crew members to cargo operations assistant managers, the multifaceted and dynamic women behind South African Airways certainly fly the airline’s flag high. We celebrate 16 of these formidable ladies in our August issue in honour of National Women’s Day. Read about what they do and their fondest memories with our national carrier.
Click through the images to read their profiles:
I started working for SAA in 2002. It was always my dream to work for SAA. Fortunately, when I was studying Tourism Management at the then Witwatersrand Technikon, SAA came to recruit students to be interns and I was selected. I work with SAA’s elite clientele. My job is to make sure that we keep our top customers happy by ensuring that their travel experience is as seamless, personal and professional as possible. I love meeting the movers and shakers of the corporate industry – the leaders in various sectors and those who run South Africa. My fondest memory of my time with SAA: I used to work in Operations (counters, boarding gates and arrivals) and in that role I assisted a blind passenger. It was such an honour to be in the presence of someone who, despite his blindness, was so positive about life and appreciated every moment. The experience made me appreciate life more and grateful to the Higher Power for everything I have. Women still struggle to penetrate male-dominated fields. I believe we can offer as much as men and even more than society expects of us. In African countries we are often governed by culture and tradition, but accepting women and giving them equal opportunities to men doesn’t mean we will forget our positions and responsibilities at home. In fact, given the opportunity, we can turn things around for the better.
I started working at SAA in 2009. I’ve been fascinated with SAA since travelling as an unaccompanied minor at the age of six. I still am. My dream was always to work for the airline and grow within the company. Today I am living my dream. As a Control Co-ordinator I have to ensure on-time flight departures and on-time flight arrivals with no misconnections for our passenger, thus ensuring a seamless experience for them. I love the energy, teamwork and ubuntu at work. I also enjoy being able to assist our passengers on a day-to-day basis. My fondest memory of my time with SAA is being chosen to feature in Sawubona magazine. My quote for Women’s Month: Mahatma Gandhi said: “Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity.” Women should be treated fairly in the workplace, shown respect and given the same opportunities as men.
I joined SAA in 1989.
At the age of 12 I stepped onto a plane for the first time and was mesmerised by the professionalism and grace of the SAA staff. My sense of self-worth skyrocketed in their presence and I decided then and there that I wanted to be like them – a part of SAA.
I’m responsible for the overall management of SAA Shared Services Employee and Transactional Services functions and processes to ensure the highest level of service delivery to business units and HR business partners, while maintaining quality assurance and compliance in accordance with SAA policies and legislation.
I enjoy the open and direct communication I have with my colleagues at all levels of the organisation and that there are always new things to learn and challenges to overcome.
One of my fondest memories of my time with SAA is when they announced that we would be the London 2012 SA Olympic Team sponsor. I will also always cherish my nomination as a Star Employee, when the video recording of the my interview was played on board the aircraft and in the atrium. To now be one of the ladies featured in Sawubona is going to be my finest memory for 2017.
My quote for Women’s Month: “The world is full of good people. If you can’t find one, be one.”
I don’t believe in getting special privileges because I’m a woman. I believe women just need opportunities to prove themselves. Women and men can share equal roles and responsibilities without compromising the growth of a company.
I joined SAA in 2010.
My main responsibility is to provide logistical support and office co-ordination, and ensuring that appropriate systems and tools are in place for the team’s success. I’m also responsible for providing assistance to the GM/CEO, as well as general office management and meeting and event co-ordination.
I love the interaction with people my job affords.
My fondest memory of my time with SAA is the Fifa World Cup in 2010 when SA welcomed more than three million soccer fans from around the world. SAA staff were given Bafana Bafana shirts and SAA became a place full of energy and excitement; the atmosphere was phenomenal. Everyone wore their soccer shirts with pride and it was so amazing that a love of football could bring so many diverse cultures together as a nation. What a wonderful country we live in, I am truly proud to be South African.
Your quote for Women’s Month: “I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa
One of the greatest challenges women face in the workplace today is trying to balance career demands and family obligations. You need to understand your motivation in the workplace and the importance of having a great support team. Stay grounded by integrating all aspects of your life.
I joined SAA in 1997. I was always interested in working for the airline and so applied for a position. I also always admired the crew members in their uniforms. My job involves responding to compliments and complaints via telephone and e-mail. I love interacting with different people from all over the world. Assisting a client and solving their problem makes me feel satisfied, knowing that I did well that day. My fondest memories of my time with SAA involve the many friends I’ve worked with in various departments over the years. They taught me a lot about the company, which was very valuable to me. Quote for Women’s Month: Judy Garland said: “Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” Women are still overlooked for top positions in some companies. Although progress is slow, women have proved that they can do any job just as well as men can.
I initially started at SAA in 1992 as a cabin crew member, but left when I relocated to Cape Town. I joined SAA again in 1999 as a key account manager, resigned in 2007 and rejoined the SAA family again in 2013, again as a key account manager. I’m responsible for revenue opportunities generated by the retail trade (travel agents) as well as corporates who use the services of SAA. I love the energy in the travel industry. It’s a very social industry that’s driven by people and relationships. I enjoy being part of a team within SAA that puts service delivery at the forefront of what we do. My job also allows me to travel and experience new destinations with my family. My fondest memory of my time with SAA is being appointed as a cabin crew member back in 1992. I was part of a group of about 20 who took great pride in getting our wings. My quote for Women’s Month: “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish” – Michelle Obama We have made progress with regards to women being acknowledged in the workplace, but the journey is far from over. Not everyone has bought into the fact that there are no differences between men and women in either capability or potential. Income inequality is still an unacceptable fact of life and women are still less likely to be given leadership positions in many areas. (no picture number) HASEENA HASROD Key Accounts Executive, Retail Sales – Commercial I started working for SAA in 1996. I’m responsible for managing a portfolio of SAA’s key retail clients, maintaining long-term relationships and maximising sales opportunities. I’m a people’s person and my job allows me to interact with people at all levels, enabling me to develop alliances with key people in the travel industry. I also have the opportunity to educate travel consultants through training and workshops. I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel the world. My fondest memory of my time with SAA is being part of a special 67 Minutes project to celebrate Madiba’s birthday last year. We packed essential items for distribution to three charities – Little Eden and Footprints Hospice in Orlando East and Lombardy. We visited all of three to hand out the hampers and it was so touching. It made me realise that there is a greater need out there and we can make a difference if we’re willing. This project portrayed the spirit of SAA. My quote for Women’s Month: “A women is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform” – Diane Mariechild
Been working at SAA since May 1994. I am responsible for the strategic sourcing of goods and services for the Corporate and Professional Services Commodity departments. I love the involvement and engagement in the different spectrums of the industry: internal clients, suppliers and stakeholders. My job is challenging and stressful, but at the same time very rewarding because no two days are the same. Working in the procurement space has enriched my life as a woman and has provided me with many great opportunities. My fondest memory of my time with SAA is from 1996 when SAA flew the Olympic team to Barcelona, Spain, in a plane beautifully branded with the SA colours. It was the first time South Africa was allowed to participate in the Olympic Games. My daughter (11 years old at the time) and I were chosen to take part in a TV advert. I felt proud to be part of the historical event, not only for SAA, but also for our beautiful country. My quote for Women’s Month: “She was formed by God’s hands, dreamed up in his heart, and placed in this world for a purpose.” What is your opinion of the current role of women in the workplace? A woman plays a dynamic role and has to balance this with her other roles. To do this she has to be emotionally, physically, mentally and socially balanced. Women have the potential to influence their environment in a positive way.
I started working for SAA in 1996. I’m responsible for managing a portfolio of SAA’s key retail clients, maintaining long-term relationships and maximising sales opportunities.
I’m a people’s person and my job allows me to interact with people at all levels, enabling me to develop alliances with key people in the travel industry. I also have the opportunity to educate travel consultants through training and workshops. I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel the world.
My fondest memory of my time with SAA is being part of a special 67 Minutes project to celebrate Madiba’s birthday last year. We packed essential items for distribution to three charities – Little Eden and Footprints Hospice in Orlando East and Lombardy. We visited all of three to hand out the hampers and it was so touching. It made me realise that there is a greater need out there and we can make a difference if we’re willing. This project portrayed the spirit of SAA.
My quote for Women’s Month: “A women is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform” – Diane Mariechild
I joined SAA in 2008 as a temp.
I always found the aviation industry exciting due to its fast pace. I started on a temporary assignment as a personal assistant in the Legal Department and then accepted a permanent position in Finance.
Secretarial duties are actually a very small part of what I do. The finance environment fascinated me to the extent that I embarked on studies to qualify as a Company Secretary. I’m a hands-on person and I’m very capable in my role of office administrator of the Financial Accounting department. No task is too big or too small and my goal is to “make things happen”.
I’m a master of what I do and I’m not shy to say so.
Quote for Women’s Month: “A woman is one who walks in her own footsteps rather than following the direction shown by the crowd.”
Women’s roles are certainly underrated in the workplace and I believe women have managed to develop multitasking skills second to none. Working effectively and efficiently under pressure all day and then going home to take on the role of mother, teacher, etc, is a tall order for anyone.
Started working for SAA in 2016.
Being a pilot was my childhood dream, so it was a natural career path after high school. With the help of my parents, a few bursaries along the way and an unwavering spirit, I embarked on my flying journey.
I assist the Captain in ensuring a safe flight for all crew members, passengers and cargo on board.
I love the view from the cockpit. Every sunset is breathtaking.
My fondest memory is of my first flight into Malawi. My father’s side of the family is Malawian, so the country and its people have a special place in my heart.
My quote for Women’s Month: Michelle Obama said: “The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued.”
Women are making a meaningful contribution to the progress of the nation. The workplace in SA is still largely unequal, but gender equality is probably the best it’s ever been. Women bring essential skills and expertise to occupations and industries previously regarded as solely the domain of men.
Started working at SAA in 2001.
I always wanted to work for a global giant and to travel the world. With SAA I get to do both. I got my job by divine intervention – a prayer answered.
What does your job entail? I’m currently with a department called Special Services at the SAA Cargo Division at OR Tambo International Airport. I’m privileged to work with an excellent team of 20. My job entails providing the best possible service levels to our clients by ensuring seamless daily operations in line with the company’s policies and procedures. It involves daily interaction with domestic and international clients, ground-handlers and service providers.
My quote for Women’s Month: “She is clothed in strength and in dignity and she laughs without fear of her future. When she speaks, her words are wise and she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:25-26
Women have come a long way. There has been change, but we can and should keep pushing the boundaries.
I started at SAAT as an electrical apprentice in 2006 and was permanently employed as an aircraft electrical technician after completing the training in 2009. How did you get into this industry? I applied for the job because I met the requirements. I wasn’t even aware that this was a male-dominated field. This didn’t derail me as I’d been exposed to a male-dominated environment in my previous job as a construction assistant electrician. My job includes, but is not limited to planning, controlling, assigning and delegating maintenance tasks allocated to the team and ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency. I ensure compliance to release aircraft to service, compliance to SAAT’s and the relevant regulatory authority’s requirements and also ensure that customer requirements are met. I liaise and co-ordinate with other trades, and the engineering and other relevant departments in order to meet scheduled targets. My fondest memory of my time with SAA is the outing I shared with my team and mentors to celebrate my appointment as the first female black avionics team leader in the company’s history. This is the greatest achievement in my life thus far. My Women’s Month quote: “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” – Diane Mariechild We have women representing us in SA’s boardrooms, which proves that not even the sky is the limit for women.
Been working at SAA since 1998. Parts of IT were outsourced in 2001, but I still worked on the SAA account until 2010, when I moved into a full-time position. I’ve always loved travel, so I did a travel course back in the day. I started working for my first airline in 1991 and have worked for various others over the years. I guess it’s now in my blood. We assess and approve all changes within the IT environment. We also communicate these changes across the business, particularly when there will be disruptions to operations. We implement changes at a convenient time, track and monitor all severity issues and help to resolve problems quickly to limit the impact on operations. I love communicating with and building relationships with the people I work with. My fondest memory of my time with SAA was the 2010 Leadership Course (5 4 Call), which I really enjoyed. I learnt a lot and met new colleagues. My graduation in 2011 was a very proud moment for me. My quote for Women’s Month: “It’s not about the size you wear, it’s about the way you wear your size!” On women in the workplace: There are many managers, but not many leaders and therein lies the opportunity. I believe women should stand up and be heard, and should lead by example. I live by Ghandi’s words: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.
I joined AirChefs in November 2006 How and why did you get into this industry? Through encouragement from my high school teacher Mrs Koenaite, who saw my potential. I studied at the then Witwatersrand Technikon and prior to joining Air Chefs, was fortunate enough to work for several top companies, which played a role in my up-skilling. A former colleague told me about a vacancy at Air Chefs and 10 years later I’m still flying the flag high. I work closely with the sales and marketing teams to conduct brainstorming sessions internally and externally with all national customers in order to define product requirements in line with briefs. We then develop and create recipes. We are the conduit between Procurement, Production and QA to ensure that product integrity and quality are always excellent. My department ensures food quality standards are maintained through regular meal tastings and gathering of client feedback on the final product. I’m also a food safety team member, ensuring that ISO22000 standards are adhered to. I love showcasing local cuisine to international clients and our holding company, and creating new concepts for airline and non-airline clients. I also love that I get to travel the world to keep up with food, equipment and cooking trends. This enables AirChefs to compete with the best in the industry. My Women’s Month quote: “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” – Oprah Winfrey
I joined SAA in 1999. My responsibilities include “technical” duties, which involve the upholding of and compliance with SAA’s health and safety standards. My role also entails ensuring an enjoyable and memorable travel experience packed with fun and laughs for our passengers and my team. I’ve always had a passion for the aviation industry with all its glamour. I love that my job allows me to share quality time with my family abroad. My fondest memory of my time with SAA was meeting my icon Anita Baker and having the honour of interacting with the great Nelson Mandela on Mandela Day. My female colleagues are powerhouses, women of integrity and endurance who have the ability to take our airline to great heights.
I joined SAA in 1999. My job involves sourcing new clients and retaining existing corporate clients. My current portfolio is a mix of corporate clients and state-owned companies. My role is mainly strategic, requiring me to understand the needs of clients, the happenings in their business and how they will impact their dealings with SAA. I love the fact that no two days are the same. I get to meet different people daily and each day brings new challenges, opportunities and lessons. My fondest memories of my time with SAA are of times when my colleagues and I have been asked to work on the operational side of the business, doing airport duty and working under immense pressure outside my comfort zone. I enjoy interacting with travellers I wouldn’t normally meet. Knowing that, in some small way, I’ve contributed to creating a memory for them is rewarding. Quote for Women’s Month: Eleanor Roosevelt said: “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” I see the workplace as a hive of activity, which is continuously changing for both women and men. Women are breaking down barriers and discovering that they can perform as well as, if not better, than their male counterparts. Their impact on society is notable as they have educated themselves and taken on many challenges while balancing their roles as mothers and career women.
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