Episode 30: The Responsibility to be the Change — The Story of Anne Norwawi

By Joanna Dela Peña

Everyone has that story where we stumble upon the things that are truly meant for us — that is what happened with our role model Anne Norwawi.

Anne has mastered the art of balancing. With a toddler and being the senior leader in Aviation Advanced Solutions Asia (AVNAS), a boutique consulting company that focuses on all avenues of aviation, there is nothing she can’t do. Let’s take a dive into the inspiring story of how Anne came to be.

Surprisingly, Anne did not start off with an aviation degree, she took up Computer Science from Putra University Malaysia (UPM) and from there landed her first job at CTRM under the business development team. And from there, we can pretty much say that the rest was history. As CTRM was one of the biggest composites’ manufacturer for Airbus, it’s no surprise that she quickly got in the loop of aviation, specifically under design engineering and developing UAV prototypes.

Her skills naturally recognized, as Anne was offered to join a start-up team in ADMAL Sdn Bhd. She took the opportunity and she soared. She wore different hats and experienced how to work in different fields (i.e., marketing, designing the company logo, developing business, public relations, communications, contracts, presentation, and even handling all commercial affairs). Anne did it all, and did it excellently as evidenced by a scholarship from the prestigious French Aerospace Industry Award. She then continued her post grad studies MBA in Aerospace Management at Toulouse Business School in France.

From there, Anne only continued to rise. She has worked with Airbus, Avion de Transport Regional (ATR), Bell Helicopter, Nordic Aviation Capital, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Velocity Aerospace, RASG, and Dedienne Aerosapce Sinagpore. All of this and she still had time for her sport which is rugby and even helped out during the SEA Games and Asia Games. Anne really is a force to be reckoned with. On top of all her experience, she has planted seeds and watched them grow and is now handling a new passion project of hers which is AVNAS.

Anne has pioneered in representing women in aviation throughout her career. She exemplified that WOMEN CAN, and was fearless in the pursuit of being the first female saleswoman at ATR and the first female foreigner at Mitsubishi. Anne continues, to this day, encouraging women to “stay true in the dark and humble in the spotlight”. A true character that has been continually saying that there are two sides to the coin in terms of moving forward to more women in education. In her words “the glass ceiling still exists, and it is a very tall glass to break”, but this did not stop Anne. She continues to break barriers and urges others to do so as well.

Anne Norwawi

With more females stepping up to leadership roles in aviation, the future is indeed bright with hope for our future female aviators. More companies are adopting gender equality and inclusiveness in the workplace. Partner that with open mindedness and men supporting women, and we have a chance to “grow and climb the ladder”, as Anne says.

Anne Norwawi is one of the strong women that continues to pave ways and clear paths for women in aviation, and her advice is to start from the grassroot. Put exposure where children’s minds can still ripen and as early as possible expose them to the possibilities that aviation has to offer.

With women like her leading us, there is nothing impossible for the next steps towards a more progressive aviation industry!