Women of Aviation Week ended yesterday, and while the week-long celebration dedicated to recognizing women in the industry is absolutely important (and tons of fun!), appreciation for all the hard-working and talented females out there shouldn't be confined to seven days out of the year.
There are so many incredible examples right here at YVR and all over the world of women in aviation and one individual who stands out at Vancouver International Airport is Amy Robertson. Amy recently spoke at the Aviation Leadership Forum about her experience in the industry, and how embracing change has helped her excel in life, and in a field where innovation is integral to success.
Change has an impact on all of us at every stage of our lives. How we choose to deal with the changes that come our way demonstrates what kind of leaders we are within the spheres our own lives.
A famous leader once said: “When we are finished changing, we are finished” That leader was Benjamin Franklin, and his words resonate with me deeply.
My perspective on change has really evolved over the last few years. My attitude towards change has gone from a negative one to a much more positive outlook.
I was devastated when I found out in my graduating year of high school that the Canadian Forces would not accept me as a pilot, primarily because my legs were too short. I had dreamt of being a Snowbird pilot from the time I first saw them perform at the age of 5 years old. Having done everything in my power to put myself on track to see my goal become a reality, and then be faced with a situation that was completely out of my control was something I looked upon very negatively. At the time, my family and friends supported me to believe in this path changing for a reason, but I have to admit that I did not truly believe them. I wanted to be finished with change and I had barely gotten my feet wet.
My sights adjusted to the airline industry and I went away to university to study aviation management concurrent with flight training. If I couldn’t be a military pilot, I would be an airline pilot instead. The life of a pilot was all that I had ever thought about doing and this seemed like a natural step. I had a sense of relief that maybe now my new decision meant that I was finished with change. There were times in the juggle of studies with flight school, while living on my own far away from home that I thought I wouldn’t get through, but I overcame those challenges. Being handed my degree after a long 4 years was one of the best days of my life.
I got an uneasy feeling that more change was to come in my next phase of life when I moved to northern BC after I graduated from university. I was working for an airline as a dispatcher, and biding my time waiting for a spot with my name on it at the next ground school. 2 years into my wait, I was frustrated and questioning my choice to have the lifestyle of an airline pilot. Was this something that would truly make me happy? I could feel a change coming on, but was scared to face it right away. This time I was the one possibly creating the change for myself and I realized that those changes can be the hardest to make.
A lot of soul searching later, I found myself packing my bags to leave the airline world for the airport world in Vancouver. I had made the biggest decision of my life to date to keep flying as a hobby and start a new journey with a path that was not clearly laid out. It scared me to death, but it was the first time that I also felt electrified with the promise for what was to come with this change.
It didn’t take long for my new life in Vancouver to present me with a great deal of satisfaction and a new sense of ambition. It was at that point that I really started to see that change might actually bring about something positive in my life. Not always knowing what lies ahead leaves even more room for possibility.
I started a job at the Vancouver Airport as a dispatcher in the Operations Center and then found myself actively looking to make a change after gaining a great deal of work experience in that role.
My present job as a Gate Scheduler for the Airport Authority is a change that I took on a short time ago, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I find myself excited about the career path I am now on, and realize that I don’t want to be finished changing!
In the last 2 years I have begun to embrace change in all areas of my life and really believe that the more open I am to change, the more I will be able to get out of life. Adapting to change has. and will continue to make me a stronger person.
Although there are times that I still struggle with change, I try to come back to the realization that it is a natural, healthy part of life that contributes to my growth as a person and leader. It means that my life is moving forward. It means that more doors will open tomorrow that I can’t even imagine today. In a lot of ways, I am learning that it is actually scarier to not have the opportunity to change than it is to be in the position to take it on. All in all, I am trying to embrace Benjamin Franklin’s message with open arms… “When we are finished changing, we are finished.”
We thank Amy for her inspiring words, hard work at YVR, and for being a great example for women all over the world. Thanks, Amy!