Khangi Khoza is passionate about promoting aviation as a career as there is so much to be done. She is also highly involved in skills development and career mapping initiatives for the industry and tries to model the many facets of aviation.
How did you get into aviation?
I studied economics at university and after working in banking ended up as the economic advisor to the Swiss Embassy. That was how I got introduced to Swissport. After a few years at the Embassy, I was asked to interview for the role of CEO, which I did.
I have always loved flying, and I find the airport to be a magical place. The various moving parts tell you a lot about a country’s economy, and so I guess it was fate.
Any challenges to getting where you are now?
Yes, it was a steep learning curve to understand the technical aspects of the industry. Long nights, early mornings and a steady belief in the fact that I could make a difference in making South Africa competitive on the global stage.
What keeps you going in a dominantly male field?
The realization that I have support, even if it does not always look like it but there are people rooting for me.
Daily routines to keep you going?
I am very structured. All my time is accounted for including relaxation. I try to exercise 6 days a week and love to read books as a way to rest my eyes from screens. Any role models/mentors? I have great mentors at Swissport luckily, my Swissport MEA CEO has been a great mentor and career coach.
Advice to younger individuals?
We all have 24 hours in a day, the difference between individuals is what they do with that time. Time is your currency.
I started by attending a trade school in Kenya for 3 years and spent one of the years at Wilson airport on internship as an aircraft technician with East African Air Charters. From there I moved to the United States to pursue a full degree program in Aviation Sciences and aviation Safety.
Family support during your journey
My family were instrumental in getting me started toward my career. They sacrificially raised funds for me to be able to attend aviation school both in Kenya and the United States
How do you find your training
I was part of a pioneer group that joined a new college that had just opened up with an aeronautical engineering degree program. There weren’t many choices available at the time, so it was the only viable option for me.
How did you get to your current role (career wise, past jobs etc)
I went to college at the university of central Missouri in the United States and after graduation I got hired by ST engineering San Antonio Aerospace as a quality engineer. I worked in that role and also explored marketing assignments in order to diversify then I embraced a safety management systems role which is what I am doing at Boeing as well. In the same time period, I also got my pilot’s licence and have been working on that as time goes on.
I networked with ISTAT foundation personnel, and they were very instrumental in providing guidance on how to curve out my career path and ended up helping me find a job.
Life when not flying
When I’m not flying, I’m either playing soccer, tennis or music with my church band.
Advice to someone in training
Ask a lot of questions and study to detail anything you may even feel is insignificant. Even when making a photocopy, learn what the paper is about and what process it serves. Then ask more questions.
Advice to someone thinking of an aviation career
It is a great career path and offers lots of options even to lawyers, Information technology, engineering but ultimately, do something you enjoy doing.
Edith is a Mixed origin woman, rich in culture being French-Senegalese by her father and Ivorian-German by her mother. She is a Senior First Officer at QatarAirways, and the first female airline pilot of her country Ivory Coast.
She has been honored by her country not only by receiving the highest state order distinction; The National Order of Merit in 2022, but also a National Excellence Award at the 7th Edition in 2019 and a Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Award in Transport in West Africa in 2018 (MATAO Grand Prix 5th edition).
How you got into aviation
Her passion for aviation comes from an early childhood. She has been exposed from a very young age to this extraordinary world of aviation, surrounded by airlines pilots including her father and uncles.
However, it wasn’t until she started college that she really decided to become an airline pilot. This followed the premature death of her father, a former Captain at the multinational Air Afrique.
Technically she joined the industry right after high school, graduating aviation school at 21 years old and starting flying #A320 #airbus family aircrafts at 23 years old, followed by the #A340, the #A330 and now the #boeing #B777!
After obtaining he scientific baccalaureate at the French high school Blaise Pascal in Ivory Coast, she entered the aviation school, the Aeronautical Institute and flying school at Amaury de Lagrange in France. After that she immediately wanted to go back home to Ivory Coast. There were not hiring pilot at the time so she started flying at Air Ivoire in different departments as a support officer such as library, human factor, flight engineering and technical department. A year later she went for her #A320 type rating in #airfrance training center while still occupying thé office function upon return.
Senior First Officer for one of the biggest airline in the world, QatarAirways and Knight in the National order of Côte d’Ivoire.
Honestly I don’t have only one. I crave empowerment, nurturing my inner fire and strength from all the women or figurehead surrounding me wether it is the famous one I can read about or honored to meet or the regular one I meet on a daily basis. Each teach me life lessons to keep and grow the momentum of inspiration and development I need to keep striving.
To name only few that inspire me, I will mention my mother: pharmacist widow for over three decades who raised three children alone, my Godfather Marcel Ottavi: ex captain instructor at Airfrance and was like a second father to me, Captain Maria the First Lady Captain I flew with, Vanessa, the first commercial instructor I met and consider like my older sister, the lady wearing a green and blue african wax on the street on my last trip back home in Côte d’Ivoire caring her child on her back while selling food on the street, all the women of the #99s organization particularly the African governor ~ Ivana Alvares-Marshall , all the women of the women in aviation International, all the women of the AASO, organizations that I am part of, and a panel of famous one.
Keys to success
Passion, perseverance, consistency, motivation, tenacity and particularly self confidence. They are the key to success. Don’t let anyone discourage you or tell you that you are not capable. You decide what you can or cannot by you attitude, and your work toward your goals.
Advice to others
“Make your life a dream, and make that dream a reality”. There is nothing impossible when you set your mind on it. I encourage tue african youth, the young women in general and specially my young african sisters to embrace aviation career or any STEM career.