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.
For Amanda Kandawire-Khoza, flying aircraft has been her dream ever since she first flew as a passenger at the age of five. In the 13 years of flying as a licensed pilot, she has clocked hours in the cockpits of SA Express, South African Airways, and has moved to Dubai-based Emirates where she became the first black South African woman to fly an A380 plane.
A self-taught digital illustrator, she also created the podcast cover art for She Brigade, a platform women use to share their stories of triumph. Amanda Kandawire-Khoza was part of the 100 Brightest Young Minds SA in 2014 and was the recipient of the CEO Magazine’s Most Influential Woman in Aviation in 2018/19.
We were humbled and honored to have Amanda as a Guest Speaker at the 4-day Avi-STEM Camp in Nairobi, Kenya, where she got to share her experiences and life story with the learners. The learners were left inspired and motivated to one day reach for their dreams as she had.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she founded two businesses, Layover Art, where she creates art-curated products and handmade earrings, as well as Fly Like a Girl, which aims to expose children to the wonderful world of aviation through the use of educational toys.
Amanda is indeed a role model for the youth in Africa.