It’s International Women’s Day and to celebrate, we are proud to introduce three of our amazing Teammates at Virgin America who prove that not even the sky is the limit for women in aviation.
Katharine Pulls, a San Francisco-based Virgin America A321 Captain first realized she wanted to be a part of the industry as a teenager when her father asked her about her interests and, “I told him that I had a passion for travel. He immediately asked what I thought about becoming a pilot and I said yes!”
For Pam Patty, our Station Manager at Palm Springs, it all started at a school field trip at Los Angeles International Airport. She was fascinated by the operation but what really sealed the deal was a tour of a TWA 747 with a piano bar in the upper deck. Pam’s career in the industry officially started with Alaska Airlines when she started as a customer service agent in 1996 so the merger announcement is a bit of a homecoming.
When speaking with our Teammates, it’s clear they all feel there is something pretty special about working in this industry. Stephanie Der, our Station Manager at Newark Liberty International Airport has been in the aviation industry for 22 years and says that her favorite part of it all, to this day, is the sense of achievement her team feels after dispatching an aircraft safely and on time. “They come down to the Village with such pride after having taken care of our guests and that’s what I love most”.
For Katharine Pulls – it’s the never-ending opportunity to teach and learn something new. “My favorite thing about my job is when I am teaching in the simulator and get to make something complicated easier to understand! My goal is to always teach a pilot something new”. Katharine Pulls happened to be at the Women of Aviation conference in Florida when we spoke with her, where she was giving advice to several young women considering a career in aviation. Her advice to them – be prepared to work hard constantly and never lose sight of who they are. “Pilots don’t have to fit a certain “mold”. You can be feminine or an individual and that’s okay. Be confident and caring. You’ll be surprised how far you can go with a great attitude and strong work ethic”.
So what advice would our Virgin America colleagues give to women looking to join the industry? For Pam Patty, it’s “dream big – reach out to your guidance counselor, seek out internships, and find a mentor.” Stephanie Der believes in never giving up – “follow your dreams and never let anyone stand in your way. I have had many obstacles being in this business and being a woman but I never let it stop me, so I hope others don’t either!”.
In the spirit of empowering women, Virgin America recently partnered with LeanIn.org, an organisation led by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and LinkedIn, on a campaign to encourage women to pursue their career ambitions and share their career stories. In addition to free professional development sessions available free on Virgin America flights equipped with its new high-speed WiFi, the airline named one of its new Airbus A320 aircraft, ‘Lady Boss’, a reminder that the sky should – literally – not be the limit for women in leadership roles.