The Sky's The Limit
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? It can be scary letting ourselves dream big sometimes, because there always seems to be a little voice that echos “yeah right!”. We can tell you now though, it’s not the voice of truth… it’s the voice of fear. And fear is something we can, thankfully, work through and conquer. Women with big dreams are taking over the world, putting one foot in front of the other to reach their goals. Now, let's take a moment to clear your mind and let it wander to a place where inspiration resides, and new beginnings are made. After all, the beginning and the journey can be just as thrilling as the end result.
Last week we had the chance to chat to up coming aviation star and go getter, Ellen Polacsek. Ellen is a part of Women in Aviation – The Australian Chapter (WAI), an amazing organisation that Co Gear has previously collaborated with - creating a scholarship to support aviation students. We absolutely applaud them for the support, encouragement and opportunities that they give women to advance in the Aviation and Aerospace industries. After being connected through Jess Hayler, the National President of WAI, we couldn’t wait to learn more about Ellen’s journey and what she had planned for the future.
(Pictured - Ellen at London City Airport in front of a BA plane & at the end of Melbourne Airport’s runway 27)
Hi Ellen! Can you tell us where you're at right now in your career and where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I’m just beginning my career in Aviation. I’m in my 3rd year of a Bachelor of Aviation Management/Bachelor of Business (Logistics & Supply Chain Management) at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. In beginning my industry experience, I started out as a volunteer at Melbourne Airport. I have worked in the industry for just over a year now in customer service, check-in and boarding roles at Swissport with Tigerair and currently Cathay Pacific. To expand my network, I signed up with professional associations in aviation, including WAI. With this I have had the chance to meet some incredible women and individuals in the aviation industry! My highlight so far would be the 2019 conference, where I learnt so much and was honestly just amazed by what members have achieved in their careers so far.
In 5 years’ time I hope to have secured a managing/leading role at an airline, where I am responsible for a group of people. I would love to see this be in network operations, cargo, planning/development or an airport team – but am open to any opportunities that arise along my path. Also I would love to be working towards achieving an MBA in a few years’ time.
Do you believe that the journey to reach your career goals is just as important as the end goal?
I think the journey to reach your goals is most certainly as important to the end goal. The skills, knowledge and experiences you gain along the journey, make you who you are today and help you achieve your goals. I have also met lifelong contacts and friends throughout my journey so far and these can be so motivating and help you through times where you may struggle. As part of my journey I attended a global study tour with Uni where we got to visit airlines and airports in 5 different countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong) in the space of 3 weeks, this was most certainly a once in a lifetime experience! In a way the journey makes reaching your goals worth all the effort, time and hard work.
What was a recent win that you've had in your career and what was that feeling like?
The most recent win in my career would probably be gaining my current position with Cathay Pacific. Going into the interview process I didn’t know how I’d fair against the other candidates as I was only 20 with a few months experience in the industry. However, I gave it my best shot and represented myself as best as I could and was lucky enough to be given a position. Despite COVID-19 causing the pause to many international and domestic flights, I have been fortunate enough to get involved with some cargo flights. Another win I’ve had was becoming the membership secretary of WAI, I believe I am the youngest member of the committee. I am so excited to connect with our members and see what we can achieve going forward. The feeling I get from all this is a more inspired and energized version of myself, I just know I’m doing the right thing for me and want to share my passion.
(Pictured - Ellen at the WAI Australia 2019 conference)
Any tips out there for women facing adversity and challenges on their own journey?
I think my biggest tip would be to persevere – it is likely that what you might be feeling someone else has experienced or gone through too. I think persistence was also my key before landing my first job in the industry - I was applying for 10-15 jobs a week for about 4 months and it can get disheartening but when you get to that next stage it can all be worth it. I also think that if you want to do something, go out and do it. I know from my experience if I’d listened to my high school careers councilor who said “Aviation... why would you want to do that”, I would not be where I am today. I would probably be down a path where I am not loving every moment and work seems like a chore.
And what's one piece of advice you could give women out there that are chasing their goals?
My advice is to follow your dreams and goals, don’t worry about what anyone else might say or tell you – if it’s something you want to do go for it!
Chatting to Ellen was such a positive experience and felt like a breath of fresh air. She’s truly a woman who is going after what she wants and sees “the sky as the limit”, literally! We hope that this interview has inspired you as much as it inspired us. We will leave you with this short, sweet yet powerful quote for the day. “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy” – Dale Carnegie
You can discover more about WAI and the awesome work they do here.