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IAWA European Leadership event

Projet de loi de finances 2024 mieux se déplacer : mettre en œuvre la planification écologique dans les transports

Opening and Welcome Note Marita Lintener, IAWA Vice President Europe & Africa,  Head of International Affairs, Skyguide

Marita welcomed all participants and also expressed gratitude to the sponsors to host this IAWA European Leadership event after several reschedule attempts because of Covid-19.
she also underlined that two past presidents of IAWA were present at this Forum Bobbi Wells (mandate 21/22) & Jane Hoskisson plus the acting President of IAWA  Kathy Guilfoyle  (mandate from end 2021/23). Marita encouraged all to foster strong female leadership and to persevere in this direction to obtain a better ratio of Women in Aviation and Aerospace around the world.

She handed over to the European Leadership Forum Conference Chair Tina COLLIER, who is also Co-lead of IAWA UK. Tina also welcomed all participants, with the few men who dared to join us while experiencing the most frequent situation of women in the aviation and aerospace environment, to be the gender ‘minority’. Expressing thanks to the sponsors again: IATA, who hosted us on their wonderful Geneva premises and conference center with the oversight of the Airport as well as Airbus, Skyguide and Clyde&Co, the Chair of the Geneva conference introduced the keynote speaker:

Willie WALSH, Director General of IATA  (also the Platinum sponsor of this IAWA event).

The keynote address by Willie Walsh indicated that premium travel recovers quicker than other segments and he recognized that there is an important challenge to make the industry more attractive of women! Apparently, there is the perception that this industry interferes too much with social life (shift work, services needed on weekends and when other make their holidays….) particularly important for women, more sensitive to work-life balance. He cited the example of the number of Aer Lingus Women Pilots with a timid ration of 8% in 2018 that has increased to 20 % in 2021.

His address was highly applauded by the audience.

  The first Panel was following on the theme “TECHNOLOGY – The New Way Forward”.   The moderator of the panel was Claire Nurcombe, Head of Enterprise Crisis Management Airbus, with the following panelists:   Engineer Cassie Leicester, Rolls-Royce, Head of                 MRO – HAESL, Thai & Delta Tec Ops and Véronique Roca, Airbus VP CoC Flight Physics (supervising 800 people around the world in Flight Physics Excellence Centre)  

The panel of two experts was very active discussing the various challenges around a sustainable revolution for aviation and aerospace, where we must ensure a strong, diverse pipeline of young STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) entering the industry. This also means that we need to solicit the interest in STEM studies among girls and young women to then get them in positions in the aviation and aerospace industry. This panel explored the role STEM plays in fashioning the future, which technologies are ahead and will change the industry whilst ensuring that the pipeline does not leak diverse talent on the way.

Regarding sustainable aviation, Véronique Roca reminded the audience that Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) could be filled into the tanks of aircraft (A/C) already in service at 50% for all flights, but that less than 1% of SAF is practically available at present around the globe.

There also need to be improvements to be made in Air Traffic Management (ATM) that could be operated as quickly as possible with more flight and fuel efficiency obtained by continuous climb and descent, non-(thermal)engine taxiing, more efficient route, tarmac, and parking management.

She also gave is a glimpse into the future with Hydrogen as powerful lift generation opportunity for larger A/C, where electricity would only be an accessory, since batteries are too heavy for the energy they offer at present, therefore not suitable for large A/C.

Liquid hydrogen in its cryogenic form (-253 degrees C) is four times more voluminous to carry compared with conventional fuel.

Some of the more immediate future projects and technical innovations under tests are flapping wings Albatross-like with A/C with test flights expected in the last quarter of 2022. This biomimetic solution seems to alleviate loads of structure to enhance performance.

Cassie Leicester reminded the audience that Rolls Royce is a strong partner with engines and fuels (SAF) with Airbus, BP etc. Many developments are ongoing and the multitude of various technologies and advances for a more sustainable aviation are well engaged and ongoing. She also underlined the importance to enhance the women’s pipeline in the sector: There is need to give support and confidence to women in aviation and aerospace to persevere acceding also advanced positions of responsibility. She also highlighted the importance of MENTORS, men and women who have expertise in various areas to support and orientate younger women in the aviation and aerospace sector.

Furthermore, motivating the very young schoolgirls is very important and the example was given for practically experiencing Flight Physics through a designed Discovery Box (as a display for schools) with an engine and wing profile with scales visualizing the physical phenomena. Regarding the younger generation we also need to promote more patience for safety-lead industry among the young people to enable them to develop more skills and capacities needing a longer time to materialize. Building this intergeneration understanding seem vital for the industry and her future. Hence, the millennials and young seem to be used that there is “an App for everything” instead for thorough search, questioning, research and humble observation with realism which take time and results are not always instant. Here expectations have to be managed to get infused into the young Millennial’s’ generation to support the aviation and aerospace industry offering exciting careers.

We shall not ignore social media and on-line influencers, since they can be used to transform to influencers inside companies and the business-to-business expertise with technology leadership and therefore talk also to the younger generations [Generation Z, alpha- digital…].

Overall, to attract the interest of younger generations, the industry has to think quickly “How to harness the energy and the desire to make things happen?”

Claire Nurcombe as the moderator guided the discussion and also invited to talk about issues of LEADERSHIP, notably the question of “the mix of managerial skills and leadership skills, which roles for whom ?” (Managers are not necessarily leaders and vice versa)                                                                               

– Reference: Zalznik, A. (1977, 2004)  Managers and Leaders: are they different? [1]

Cassie indicated that we need more leaders who can support the psychological contract (the invisible, unwritten link between employees and the company with the informal expectations and satisfaction that must be balanced to avoid breaches, disengagement…)[2] and the firm, being capable to connect with different styles and generations.

Veronique added that leadership inspires and gives meaning for value creating value through people in organizations and society, therefore it is an important element for the future of the industry, but there is need for both, leaders and managers to master the business.

Then following opening to questions with the audience engaged a rich discussion about women engagement in aviation around the world with specific advice for women in the Middle East. The advice for women also in this area – where women are not always involved because they are women  –  is to focus, engage and request that you are tried, participate and can do the job like anyone/man.

Another comment talked about applications like Roblox and Minecraft and games on applications giving the example that her 10-years old daughter is playing first class check-in etc. in EMIRATES, who is present on these social media games to promote the corporate identity but Lufthansa is not (and a parent works for LH  ☹). The Aerospace industry should be present also in games and applications for youngsters in order to solicit interest early and to promote corporate identities.

A representative from the environmental IATA team reminded the audience about patience/impatience and the urgency of environmental changes for our Aviation industry.

                Road and ground transportation will push for economies of scale, not so the aviation industry, also regarding hydrogen.

                Most hydrogen production is not yet green yet…..

There will be high competition by the energy sector for industry, transport etc. around sustainable solutions for various areas and sectors creating a possible bottleneck also for the aviation industry.

There is the need to combat inertia and blockages because of costs – here the impatience of the younger generation is good to achieve better and faster advances. Just make it happen!

The panel ended with the conclusion and call for action: 

Go and talk to 10-years olds: Creative ideas for our daily work and set inspirations that hopefully can lead to future professional interest in the scientific and technical areas for aerospace.

This very animated panel was followed by another distinguished key-note speaker on Diversity and Inclusion. A Swiss ANSP Perspective by Alex Bristol, CEO Skyguide, Geneva. As another Gold Sponsor he joined via video. He insisted on Diversity with INCLUSION is important, otherwise Diversity may be an empty term. Simple Diversity is not enough, management and leaders have to create the environment of INCLUSION that is felt and make it happen. Minority elements of diversity have to be consistent with talk & walking the talk and everyone has to be heard. It is also very important to draw the line to make clear what is unacceptable behaviour(!) The is also the need of ROLE MODELS: they are important to promote and make living examples visible.
It is the responsibility of all but particularly corporate leaders to foster talent for diversity and inclusion, creating the environment where diversity can flourish. This is valid for all customers, partners, colleagues, employees.

    The following keynote speaker Maya Ghazal, First Female Syrian Refugee Pilot and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency Goodwill Ambassador gave an emotional testimony about a strong will for hope and strong direction for a positive life.   Maya is a Syrian refugee (from Damascus) and a pilot today. She described 5 important steps that restored her hope.  
  1. In Damascus she had a large family, likes to travel and was able to speak well, therefore she thought to become an ambassador and thought about future studies of political sciences, but then the war came to Syria. In 2015, the father had to leave Syria, the children staying changed school at least three times because of bombings that destroyed their future. In April 2015, Maya was 16 years old, there was a safe route to Turkey and then to Birmingham in the UK with her mother and two younger brothers. TO her great surprise she experienced negative treatment of refugees in the UK. Refugees have just a change of circumstances, but this does not change the value of the individual.
  2. Education is as important than water, food and shelter and safety since it builds the future for each child. Unfortunately, Maya was rejected from 3 schools in the UK because there was no recognition of her Syrian secondary education certificate. The boredom and isolation in the UK with not being able to go to an UK school at least for 3 months was highly exasperating until finally, a test opened in a school to enter, even if the English language level was not perceived as sufficient, but the mathematics and science level got her in. Then, she finally could enter an engineering college and got in touch with aviation. Maya wanted to become an aerospace engineer and experience piloting an aircraft.
  3. She was fascinated by Heathrow airport and airplanes and achieved an aviation engineering Bachelor at Brunel University in London.

3% or refugees attend college compared to the 30% of average young people who go to college.

Now, Maya is an UN HCR Goodwill ambassador to promote and increase the opportunity for men and women refugees to attend higher education from 30 to 15 % in 2030 (concerning at least 500.000 people around the world).

  • Don’t tell me that I cannot do something because I am a girl.

Only 9% of pilots around the world are women. Maya obtained her private pilot license in 2020. She has also received the Princess Diana Legacy award by Prince William and Harry. She also met Katherine Bennett with Airbus UK & IAWA UK and got involved.

  • Stamina, energy to follow your dreams: All girls should stay with her convictions and dreams. Maya is now involved with an MSc in aerospace engineering in an alternating industry scheme and trying still to fly (with some difficulties for the flight hours financing to pursue for professional pilot).

Maya’s highly emotional narrative has captivated the audience and closed with standing ovations.

   The next session was devoted to the IAWA Scholarships and the Power of Mentoring. Presented by Christine de Gagne, Airline Marketing Director Airbus, Toulouse and Co-lead IAWA France. She introduced the two Scholars’ recipients: Léane Mahé (French), student at Cranfield University (IAWA student award 2022) and Maedeh Ravan (originally from Iran), student at Ecole Nationale d’Aviation Civile ENAC (IAWA student award 2021). The award and mentorship of IAWA is strongly supporting the professional start of our scholarship recipients.  

The lunch break offered excellent networking opportunities in a wonderful setting of the IATA conference centre overseeing Geneva Airport.

The first afternoon Panel was titled “The Great Resignation”.

Moderated by Marita Lintener and the following Panelists:

Arpad Szakal Principal Consultant Cormis Partners Executive Search and

Bobbi J. Wells, Past-President IAWA, VP American Airlines – Safety Systems, Efficiency & Compliance.

The discussion tackled the following questions: How to leverage the “Great Resignation” as a high performing female executive if you actually like your role and want to stay? How can aviation businesses have an edge in attracting & retaining talent? What are today’s savvy candidates looking for? Key learnings from the joint IAWA and Oliver-Wyman “Lift to Leadership” study.

Bobbi Wells, former president of IAWA, gave an overview of the Olivier Wyman – IAWA  survey results (2020-2021) – Lift to Leadership Study. link

Aviation is still a boys’ club, not many women encouraged to come into or to stay in the industry. Senior leaders must talk about the women participation issue, only than it will be taken as important! The industry should advance and develop women and mentor them effectively. Therefore, coaching, mentorship and sponsorship are needed at various levels. Coaches talk to you, mentors tall with you and sponsors talk about you.

Since March 2020 (starting in the U.S.) the phenomenon of The Great Resignation has withdrawn even more women than men from the workplace and enhanced the search for sense in work and workplaces.

Bobbi Wells recalled that IAWA is part of the Women in Aviation (USA) advisory board for the US Congress. This is also an important levy for make the industry evolving and promote women influence.

Arpad indicated the importance to support women with their child and family care which must be maintained stronger. More flexibility is needed despite cost because if this will not change, the cost will never be less. The lack of talent is exacerbated because of covid & the great resignation. More diversity also offers more ideas and solutions for safety and innovation in the industry.

A crucial question is always “How to retain women?”

The panelist recommended to take care of the applicants, even if they may be not finally selected for a job now but may be later needs will come up.

Furthermore, there is a need to capture the imagination of young girls to get them into aviation. Aviation should support cartoons and toys’ exposure to girls and address issues at each life (cycle) stage for young girls and women across their education and professional development. Interestingly, little girls’ confidence level outperforms little boys’ level until age 12. Whereas boys’ confidence levels continue to grow, the imposture syndrome appears among your women [Book recommendation:  Reshma Saujani (2019). Brave not perfect How Celebrating Imperfection Helps You Live Your Best, Most Joyful Life. Currency.]

To enable a more attractive workplace for women, just tailor the corporate environment towards all needs, including the women’s one. Women should not apologize for who they are, but just be able to be themselves and success and bring performance to the business. It seems that bias and non-discrimination trainings are only scratching the surface…. We need more to truly have gender diversity at all levels of society and organizations.

Technology and digital companies make it very interesting to lure youngster to their companies, experiential exposure seems to be very important. This adds additional pressure and competition to the aviation industry, that also needs digital skills.

Former IAWA President Bobbi Wells also shared her own experience, regarding the societal issues to be tough and kind at the same time for women that appears to be difficult. She remembered being criticized that she was not smiling enough, hence front-line managers need to be trained more for addressing women issues.

COVID-19 apparently led to more lay-offs of women than men, but women also withdraw more from the post-covid workforce and looking for sense.

Comments from the audience reminded all that mothers also have the responsibility to bring up more tolerant and women respecting sons!

The next part offered another keynote speaker; the acting IAWA President Kathleen Guilfoyle, and Member, Campbell Conroy & O’Neil, P.C. Kathleen underlined to “cultivate and advance women leaders in the aviation industry”, the importance of a global network and the need to create and increase IAWA membership around the world. Hereafter, with increased membership there will be also an increase of impact. All IAWA members should take part of the various meeting and networking opportunities to come:   At ILA Berlin –  IAWA connect   23 June 2022 and Farnborough – IAWA connect  19 July 2022.  

Furthermore, there will be an IAWA connect event in Roma and a happy hour in London. Please watch out on the IAWA Website and all a kindly invited to meet again in person at the 34th IAWA Annual Conference in Lisbon, Portugal 09-11 November 2022!

The IAWA Advocate:  as a ‘new’ Role: Going beyond the IAWA – Olivier Wyman Study and make progressive steps with sponsorship and accountability, promoting corporate membership and sponsorship for and with IAWA. The objective is to advance women in the aviation industry.

There is still segments which are underrepresented, also among the IAWA membership, notably helicopters and the space industry…..

The third panel of the day addressed the theme “Airline Business Emerging from the Crisis How commercial operations have adapted during the pandemic and other crises to rebuild, recover, and grow in a post-pandemic world”.

The moderator was Jane Hoskisson, Director, Talent, Learning, Engagement & Diversity, IATA

Her Panelists:

Elizabeth Maclean, Co-Managing Director Herdwick Communications

Tanja Grobotek, CANSO, Director Europe Affairs  (Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation) 

Marie Antoinette Santoni Brunelli, Program Director/ Sustainable development, CSR/Scheduling VP AIR CORSICA

This panel gave the opportunity to reflect about what happened during the pandemic and what can be learned from such a crisis to recover and show resilience.

Elizabeth Maclean worked for an airline in the Middle East and decided to go back to work even to stay separated from the UK-based family. She mentioned the emergency Communication and continuity plans upon coming back to the airline to Dubai – since MERS contagious disease experience was already experience in the crisis communication plan, covid was not a big deal since the corporate communication plan was somewhat prepared…..

Tanja Grobotek, just went to Johannesburg on the day of confinement announcements from Brussels. She underlined the quick adaptation, continued to provide ANSP Services but with air traffic controllers to be kept separated to avoid contaminations. There were challengee to understand all what happened in the various European Airspace, with stipulations different across various European countries + Ministry of Health and Ministry of transport, again across respective countries across EU where the Single Market eroded.

Elizabeth Maclean indicated the admiration of adaptability of most people and teams because of Covid-19. She also calls to avoid Dissuading people from travelling.

Tanja Grobotek reported that ANSP could not scale back like airlines who parked planes, this was not possible for ANSP, they had to ensure continuity of services, so the economic situation was far more difficult than for airlines who scaled back their operations.

Good crisis management is also a key to retain well qualified people!

The urgency became clear with a more than 6-months window compared to 5 years foresight of today’s investment for air traffic management (ATM), for example. This needed rapid adaptation.

The question about the Reflection about crises and would we have done anything different the next time ? was raised.

Marie Antoinette Santoni Brunelli at Air Corsica reported that she and her colleagues worked more during confinement and the pandemic (at least 12 hours and 7 days a week) to tackle all important issues to management the Covid-19 pandemic crisis……

Now there is talk about mental & emotional health far more than before, with post-traumatic, post-covid experience, that talk is needed to avoid burnout. Furthermore, there is a strong need to combat anger and angst: make people more conscious how to manage their emotions to avoid very negative responses!

She also reminded the audience that safety in the cabin for airline staff is an important issue and employer’s responsibility!

After a full day of very useful and heartful exchanges of experience, the closing remarks were addressed by Tina Collier, Chair of Geneva Forum and Co-lead IAWA UK.

Women in aviation and aerospace must persevere to support women to get the overall industry more attractive and more inclusive around the globe.

Thanks to the whole organizing team and panel leaders; the host IATA in Geneva with Jane Hoskisson and David Berger as well as to Willie Walsh. Great thanks as well to Alex Bristol; to the acting and past IAWA presidents who attended in person as well as to the sponsors, corporate partners and all participants!

The end of the event offered farewell drinks and networking opportunities again.

IAWA hopes to see you all in Lisbon, Portugal for the 34th annual IAWA conference coming November, 09-11 November 2022.Link

Cordula Barzantny, 23/06/2022

[1]  Zaleznik, A. (1977) Leaders and managers: Are they different. Harvard Business Review, 15 (3): 67-84.

[2] For the variety across cultures of the psychological contract see for ex.:  D. C. Thomas with, S. R. Fitzsimmons, E. C. Ravlin,, K. Au,, B. Z. Ekelund, & C. Barzantny (2010): “Psychological Contracts across Cultures: Perceptions and Responses to Violations.“ Organization Studies, Vol. 31 (11): 1437-1458. DOI 10.1177/0170840610380811