Siza Mzimela is the first black female CEO of a commercial airline in Africa, Fly Blue Crane, which was launched in September 2015. Now, barely a year later, Fly Blue Crane is set to commence international operations by the 13th of May, 2016.
Apart from being the first African woman to start an airline, Mzimela is also the first woman to be appointed a member of the governing board of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 70 years. Here are 3 things we can learn from this remarkable woman:
Defy the norm
In an interview with the Runway Girl Network, Mzimela said she decided to work in aviation to defy the notion that she ‘couldn’t do it.’ “I walked out of that interview knowing I wanted to work in aviation because these pale white men felt this young African woman couldn’t do it. And the most arrogant man on that panel? In a few years, that man was reporting to me.”
Have great relational skills
During the interview, she recalled that as the CEO of the South African Airways (SAA), her ability to get everyone on the same page made them successful. She was able to achieve this through honesty and her strong interpersonal skills.
“There were some workers said it was the first time in history that they had ever seen the CEO. For me, I thought it was the thing you do. You show your face and let people know who you are and what you’re about before asking them what you need to do.” Mzimela remarked.
Instead of complaining, work harder
Mzimela had this to say – “The truth of matter is, you have to accept up front that your road will be more difficult than the pale white male sitting next to you. Instead of moaning and complaining, just get on with it. You will have to always have to be better than them because they will only ignore you up to a point. People may not like your color or your agenda when they want the best person for the job.”
“You can stand up and say ‘I am the best person for the job’. Just understand that we just have to work harder. It’s unfair, but you spend less time complaining and more time finding a way to move on and break through regardless of the difficulties. Be mentally prepared that climbing that mountain will be different, but I’m prepared to climb to the top. It’s your job to say ‘nothing will stop me. I’m going to make it,’ because it doesn’t look like, I’m sad to say, that things will change any time soon.”