Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
The Group Managing Director of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (Nahco Aviance) Mrs Olatokunbo Fagbemi, has revealed that she has set up a committee that would educate young girls and mentor them to help attain a successful career in the aviation industry.
At a recent event organised by the company in Lagos to mark the International Women’s Day, Fagbemi said that though there hasn’t been an astronomical increase in the number of women in the aviation industry, she is determined to ensure that more girls are educated and exposed to the many opportunities the industry has to offer.
Fagbemi said: “This is the second year we are having an event to celebrate women in aviation on International Women’s Day. We have been trying to bring ourselves together as women so that as we are moving up the corporate ladder, the younger ones will also be coming up with us that is why most of those who attended focused on the younger ladies.
“If you look at the number of those that attended the programme, you will know how few women are in aviation. But what we plan to do is that we would get enough women who are occupying senior positions in the industry to go to some of the schools around and talk to girls about how they can have a successful career in aviation. I have shared the idea with those who attended this year’s event and we have set up a committee to that effect. We want a situation such that when we come next year, we would not just sing and dance, but we would discuss and teach these younger ones what aviation is about and how they can have a successful career in the industry. The industry is very wide and it is not just about being a pilot or a cabin crew member or an engineer but there are so many facets and branches in the industry. You can work with cargo, provide catering services, be a regulator, be in the air transport management agency.”
On some of the issues she has faced, she said: “Many times, I get emails that address me as Mr Tokunbo because even without seeing me, people automatically assume that the Managing Director of a company like NAHCO would be a man. Some people also walk up to me and say that they would like to see the MD and I tell them that I am the MD and they express surprise. But once they see that you know your job well and you are very efficient, they respect you even more.”
Also speaking at the event, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, expressed happiness that there are more women in the industry than there were decades ago. Narrating her experience, she said when she was newly appointed, many people didn’t think she would succeed but that she has proved them wrong.
“Women are truly coming up now and I am proud to say that there are more women in aviation than there was decades ago and they are more ready to come to the forefront and prove their worth now than it was before. I remember when I was made the acting GM, a lot of people didn’t believe in me but I believe that the best form of revenge is success and I told myself that I would do better than my predecessor and I am proud to say that I know I am doing very well. So, when people try to relegate women to the background, it gives us the push and it makes us perform better,” Yakubu said.