The daily movement of aircraft, luggage, cargo, checking-in hundreds of passengers, disembarking hundreds more, immigration, security, may seem daunting when strung together. But have you ever considered the magic that goes on behind the scenes that make travel seem so effortless and seamless?
This “behind-the-scenes” person at Emirates is called an Airport Services Manager. Celebrating the spirit of International Women’s Day, Emirates throws the spotlight on its Airport Service Manager, Sylvia Baah, an accomplished, experienced woman who wears many hats as ASM. She admits that her job with Emirates has provided her with many life defining moments. The 2019 International Women’s Day campaign theme: #BalanceforBetter, is a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.
The operational aspect of the aviation industry is often seen as male dominated, but increasingly, women are pursuing careers in aviation.
Sylvia’s role as Emirates’ Airport Services Manager entails a lot of moving parts. She oversees a team of 52 staff, who handle daily flights across Dubai, Accra and Abidjan, which is set to increase over summer. Broadly, she has the important task of ensuring the operational readiness of all Emirates flights from Kotoka International Airport through the Dubai hub to the rest of the world. This is a broad way of saying she ensures that all ground handling activities, catering, refueling are taken care of. Additionally, it is her responsibility to ensure that check-ins close in good time to enable the plane to depart on time.
That’s not all, for she also makes sure that the high standard of the Emirates brand, in terms of uncompromised excellent customer service, is maintained.
Sylvia is a pioneer, who joined Emirates when it first launched services to Ghana in 2004. It has been 15 years of working first as a supervisor, Officer then to Airport Services Manager, a position she has held since 2011. Even though she was already actively working in the airline industry, she embraced the challenge of working with the Best Airline in the world, when the opportunity presented itself. This is because she saw it as a perfect opportunity to work with more passion and dedication in an industry she has always wanted to pursue a career in.
Working for a global airline whose operations run 24 hours a day and seven days a week means Sylvia’s job as an Airport Services Manager never ends. From sending emails to providing periodic situational updates to meetings with airport officials to touching base with her team to make sure everything is set to receive Emirates flights – thus multi-tasking is essential to Sylvia’s role.
Sylvia is up to the challenge due to the support of the team of hardworking and dedicated men and women she works with at the Airport. She has a management style that seems to be working for Emirates at the Airport. They work together as a family and they face every challenge together. It is, therefore, not surprising that Emirates’ operations at the KIA runs very efficiently.
Working efficiently with Emirates for that long would certainly accumulate numerous high points. The highlights of Sylvia’s career were when she received the highest Award (NAJM) for Emirates employees and the Chairman’s Award in 2012. Nothing could top the joy, sense of pride and fulfilment she had when she became the first Emirates Airport Services Manager to receive an Emirates A380 in West Africa and Ghana for that matter.
Travelling is an obvious aspect of her role as Airport Services Manager, but of all the destinations she has flown to in Emirates extensive network, Dubai is her favourite destination. This is not because the iconic city also doubles as Emirates’ operational hub. “Dubai is just an amazing city with the most breathtaking architecture. Also, there is always something to do in Dubai as the city is constantly evolving with iconic infrastructure and installations, which make it a world class destination for business and or leisure,” she says with a broad smile. While onboard Emirates, Sylvia’s favorite inflight feature is the award-winning ice. With up to 4,000 channels of music, TV shows and live sports to choose from, there is nothing that beats having quality entertainment to relax. To top it all as a passenger, she can create her own ice playlist with her Emirates App.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Sylvia’s story is one that sends a strong signal that no matter what industry you are in, it is important to always work hard and remain resilient. Women should not let discouraging words or people get to them. They should not allow anyone to make them feel inadequate because of age or gender. The main charge to pick from Sylvia’s story is to embrace every challenge and never stop learning because that’s how you keep growing.
For the young woman with an ambition of a career in aviation who may be reading this, it is important to understand that there are women managing the operations of major airlines in Ghana. This should be an inspiration. The opportunities for mentoring and coaching are available so long as you desire it and are ready to dedicate yourself to the process. The reality of balancing family life with your career can be trying at times but you would have to succeed at it anyway. It’s no doubt that women are great multi-taskers and are naturally adept at taking on different tasks.
Sylvia’s advice to young women is; “As a young woman, you can have it all, you just need to stay focused and not allow anything to become an obstacle. “Anything” here means family, friends, gender and yourself. Push yourself, never settle to anything less than the best, we all have the “can do” spirit, it is in all of us you just need to find it.
“Finally, put God first. Give him your best and He will take care of the rest”.
Happy International Women’s Day!!”
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