Captain Joan Obasi is a First Officer at RwandAir. In 2017, she was recognised by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and was also included in the FAA Airmen Certification Database. Prior to joining RwandAir, she was a Senior First Officer at Arik Air. She shares her inspirational story of how she moved from being a Cabin Crew Official to becoming a first-rate Pilot.
I would say my career in the aviation industry was born out of curiosity. I was in my twenties and fresh out of university with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and I was ready to conquer the world. I didn’t really have everything mapped out or figured out, but I was intrigued about what the future held for me. One thing I knew was that I didn’t want to do a routine job. So I stayed away from bank jobs, because I knew it wasn’t going to work for me. I was so sure I would get bored of the day to day routine. I yearned for excitement in my work. So, out of curiosity, I took the advice of a friend and applied for a job as a Cabin Crew member, and that became a perfect job fit for my personality. I had always wanted a job that would allow me to travel the world, go to new places and meet people. This job gave me all of that and more.
From Cabin Crew Official To Pilot
When I kicked off my role as a Cabin Crew official, I immediately knew this was a perfect job fit for me. It was like a match made in heaven. I got to travel and meet a lot of new people from countries all over the world. It was completely different from what I had studied in school, but I loved every bit of it. Over a ten year period, I grew steadily at it and rose to become a Senior Cabin Crew member. But then, I began to yearn for more.
During my time as a Cabin Crew member, I worked closely with some of the female pilots, and seeing them do what they do somehow fueled a bigger desire in me. I knew I wanted to become a pilot. And so, the journey began for me.
I went to Phoenix East Aviation School in Florida USA, where I got my initial PPL, CPL, and Instrument Ratings. After that, I went on to the Panam International Flight Academy, also in Florida for a type rating on the Boeing. Today, I am an FAA ATPL Boeing 737 rated pilot. I have also flown to numerous countries in Africa, Europe and Asia.
My Driving Force
My driving force has always been to be the best version of myself. I want to always prove to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to do. I believe that as humans, we can attain the best version of ourselves. I believe that we can always do more. I want to always keep evolving and getting better. This is what drives me on a daily basis.
An important lesson I have learnt in the course of building my career is the power of the mind. If you are able to master control of your mind, you will conquer fear and fight off all limitations.
On Women Empowerment
As a woman in a male-dominated job, I would like to see more women in the aviation industry. Things have greatly improved over the years, and women are comfortably doing jobs that were seen to only be for men some years back. Today, it is not surprising to find women in the Engineering departments of Airlines, with greasy palms working on airplane engines. Women are taking the bull by the horn and blazing the trail. A perfect example is Mrs Yvonne Makolo, the CEO of RwandAir, who is a pacesetter in her own right. She has been CEO of RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, since 2018. Prior to that, she was the company’s Deputy CEO responsible for corporate affairs, a position she held since April 2017. She is a perfect idea of women taking charge.
To girls and young women out there trying to make career decisions, my advice to you is to ensure you do not put a limit on yourself. Your age, gender, family background or even educational status should not stop you from dreaming big and chasing after your dreams. Also, do not stop working on yourself. Change should be constant. Keep on building capacity and climbing the ladder. Success is sure to come by.
Captain Joan Obasi is a First Officer at Rwandair. In 2017, she was recognised by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and was also included in the FAA Airmen Certification Database. Prior to joining Rwandair, she was a Senior First Officer at Arik Air.