Episode 29: With Love from Italy

This time we bring a story of two remarkable Italian women in Aviation. WiAA had the opportunity to interview them at their work locations remotely and we learnt so much from them in their incredible Italian accent!

As a country everybody loves Italy – the scene, the food, the people, the quality goods they produce. Likewise, we are lucky to tell the story of two quality women holding positions in Aviation, a less open industry to women in Italy – Sylvia Machi & Daniela Magnaghi

Daniela Magnaghi

Daniela was not always in aviation but after some years after graduating ended up holding a position with an aviation company and was hired based on her technical skills. She says it is a challenging job facing daily challenges.

Daniela’s current role as Purchasing Executive at Weststar Aviation includes handling requests from the maintenance department, quotations from vendors, purchase orders and order acknowledgement. She is also responsible for special functions such as to research and develop new source of supply when required; purchase spares and/or services; monitor spares/services status; assist at general duties of the Logistic Department; follow up spares/services deliveries; follow up on weekly basis the back orders status; issue monthly reports related to outstanding spares/services and to maintain filing system in an organized way.

Prior to Weststar Aviation, she was with Air Italy as senior buyer and components management, and with Cargo Italia in crew planning & rostering. She has been in aviation now for the past 18 years.

Sylvia Machi

Sylvia Machi – ‘There is always light. If only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it” (Amanda Gorman)

Sylvia’s career in aviation started in 2006 where her role was to assist people before, during and after their journey, check-in assistance, help with all travel requirements, bookings and any kind of problem solving which she claims was the hardest part of the job. She  was only 23 years old and totally inexperienced in that sector but day by day she became increasingly fascinated by the diversity of the Aviation world and more confident with it until she joined Air Italy.

Feeling excited and scared at the same time, her desire to learn as much as possible was so high that she threw herself head on into this adventure. She started at Crew Control to manage schedules, travels, duties, crew operations, and learned so much especially how to be empathetic with the people. According to her, understanding other people’s emotions is a key skill in the workplace and can enable us to resolve conflicts and to improve our relationships especially in a male-dominated workplace such as Aviation.

Was it easy? Absolutely not but day by day she learned a lot of things becoming more and more confident in this sector and she understood that “know what you are saying and say it with strength” was the right way to think!

Currently she is in charge of the Operation Control Center (OCC) of Weststar NDD. Eventhough helicopters are a new area for her but her experience gained over the years makes her face this new challenge positively with a “I can do it attitude!”.  She tells her children that in the life you must have courage – courage to make a choice, courage to make a decision and courage to express opinions. She is so proud to be a women in aviation.

She is very glad to be part of WiAA Project, to help women become brave and believe in themselves, just like she did.

According to Daniela and Sylvia, Italy is a nation that is strongly bound by culture, hence very few women work in the aviation industry. It is still seen as a very male dominated industry however in their years of experience they have seen that aviation roles have become a little easier for women. The biggest growth has been seen in areas of operations, ground staff and also engineering but not for pilots as it is still perceived as a role for males. According to the ladies, in their careers they have seen only a handful of women pilots in Italy. The opinion is that male pilots do not associate women as pilots as its based upon their cultural mindset that it is simply a male role as there is a lot of travel involved and is not suitable for females. Daniela says that the first guess people make about her being in the aviation industry is that she performs a role like that of a cabin crew, a role that requires softer skills.

Their take is that in Italy the changes are made in very little steps but in the future the concept of women in aviation will change drastically with the younger generation moving into the workforce.  HR departments process of selection should not be based on gender but their personal skills. In the past there may not have been as many opportunities, but it is heading in the right direction.

They hope that in due course the new generation of males will have a different mindset and things will get easier for females. Sylvia claims that it is like fighting a war – you need to fight it day by day to win and achieve the goal.

Both these women effectively juggle jobs in aviation, kids, and family. Kudos to our inspiring role models in aviation!

A Weststar Helicopter