Meet the Awesome Women of Air WorksAs an Equal Opportunity player, Air Works has incredible women who power our business.
Please help us understand you and your work a little bit better?
I joined Air Works in May 1991 after graduating in Commerce. Air Works was my first job and has been my only one since then. There weren’t any job portals unlike now and one got to know of opportunities through word-of-mouth. I began my career as an Accounts Assistant after being interviewed by my supervisor and the HR department and was initially tasked with book-keeping and structuring ledgers, which was done manually. Reviews and reconciliations were done every week. While initially, I’d been against the concept of working, my meeting with Mr. Sahu Menon on my very first day boosted my confidence immensely and has had me hooked to Air Works!
Description automatically generated with medium confidenceGive us a sense of Air Works was like back then?
We were a much smaller and tighter organization in those times. We had about 300-odd people in Mumbai, which used to be the Head Office. Business Aviation was the only vertical and we were about 1/3rd of our current size with about 500 odd people pan-India. We had a network presence and some key stations that I can recall included Madurai, Cochin, and Delhi, where we had a presence at the erstwhile Palam Airport and even at Safdarjung Airport. Now, our business, scale as well as network have significantly evolved into Commercial MRO, Avionics, Defense and even asset management.
How has your work and life transformed over time, in sync with the evolution of the organization?
Most of my work pertained to book keeping and ledgers. Doing the entire exercise manually used to be quite a task as the scale of business grew. However, automation via technology interventions has helped and I am now able to do far more in terms of output, that I guess, we were doing three decades ago in the same time. At the same time, one has had to stay updated with revisions in accounting to ensure compliance. Also, I am no longer a single woman, but also a wife and a mother. Managing more and diverse set of challenges within the same time effectively is women’s secret strength and I guess, I have been able to do it with both my work and home, relying on weekends, a laptop, an understanding family and a supportive work environment. As a person, I believe that I have matured and Air Works has helped me become more patient and grounded.
How do you find our culture now? Have the culture and environment at Air Works changed over time? If so, how?
Yes, its natural for people and organizational culture to evolve with time in order to remain relevant. I definitely find the Air Works environment warm, and supportive, else I would not have been able to spend a significant part of my life with the Company. Its been fortunate for me to have friendly, and engaging colleagues and seniors who have appreciated my work. However, as a woman, I also observe that the erstwhile culture that I inherited and have spent most of my time in, has slowly transformed. The fact that Professionalism has become important is undoubtedly good, but at the same, I see some of the old warmth disappearing. Having spent close to 30 years here, I read it as a cause of concern for all of us, since its the innate sense of family bonding and unequivocal support that has bound us together as an organization. We must try to blend and carry both of these characteristics with us at Air Works since an either or imperative doesn’t characterize us. Thankfully, I find our environment still highly infectious and positive and that is indeed a blessing as we spend a substantial time at the workplace.
Last year, COVID was a difficult time for everyone? How did you manage that?
Yes, the COVID period was indeed quite stressful, especially as it happened just as we were getting into the financial closure for the year. The team – both us and the ones in HQ - had to resort to virtual interactions to complete a lot of our requirements pertaining to compliances. Thankfully, the Govt. extensions on timelines helped, even though the first few months were quite unpredictable. In fact, Maharashtra and Mumbai were quite badly impacted. However, am glad that the work didn’t stop and there was enough of it to keep busy. In spite of working timelines merging with personal ones and everyday being a weekday given that one was working from home (WFH), it was a completely different experience for all of us including me, my spouse, and my daughter. After a few months however, I was itching to go back and re-join office and thankfully that has happened.
How can Air Works become a better and a more attractive employer overall and especially for women?
I have found Air Works to be quite compassionate and sensitive towards women than a lot of other organizations I know of. We have always been provided an equal opportunity to contribute and those contributions have been duly appreciated. I see a receptivity for ideas and inputs and together with the warm, friendly atmosphere, I believe, we have a very fulfilling atmosphere.
While I firmly believe that those who have an intrinsic passion for aviation will definitely excel at Air Works, we must realize that as an invaluable Aviation brand with a legacy of 70 years, we must focus on both sides of the coin in order to continue being an attractive employer. We must promote Aviation & Aviation Engineering and Maintenance as a viable career option for youngsters (including women) and at the same time, have an increasing focus on issues that matter to the upcoming generation such as career progression, continuous learning, anywhere working etc. For women, dynamic policies that can be adapted to offer them a greater sense of work-life balance can definitely make Air Works more attractive.
What are your hobbies? Are you an aviation enthusiast yourself?
I love listening to soft music, including classical singers such as Lata. I am also into cooking and prefer reading from time to time. While I started with a near zero awareness about aviation, after 3 decades, I definitely feel a relation to it and am more engaged every time I am at an airport or close to an aircraft. For some reason, the sound of an aircraft is quite reassuring (laughs).
Which has been your most memorable moment at Air Works?
I still clearly remember my meeting with Mr. Sahu Menon, which was a life changer for me. Aside from my first day at office, one of my most treasured memories is of completing 25 Years at Air Works and the accompanying felicitations. It was a humbling moment, as it made me suddenly realise my own contribution to the Company and the fact that I was now a matured, seasoned and a senior colleague in the company, responsible to help and groom the youngsters around us by passing on the Air Works values that I had inherited from my seniors.
Your message to other young women (and men) in Air Works?
As a woman who’s experienced Air Works, has a grown up daughter and works with both senior and young colleagues, I would urge aspiring youngsters to try and develop patience. Today’s youth appears to be in some sort of a hurry which can become a disadvantage over a longer term. They need to be able to cope with pressures and failures and hence, it is best if they can in some manner, maintain a balance between enthusiasm and patience. At the same time, Air Works’ core values of respect for the individual, perseverance and professionalism in terms of ethics and integrity must be categorically followed/ embraced.
What significance does the International Women’s Day hold for you?
The day is important, given that women find so many biases around them in so many ways, which impact their expression, motivation, spirit and perhaps even their potential. Such days are therefore reminders and important for a call to action to be taken. Its imperative that this realization that contribution at work / talent and capabilities are gender independent becomes embedded amongst people and lip service to women issues is avoided.