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AWE 08 - An Inspiring Success!
Posted Sep 23, 2008 - 02:35 PM

4th AWE Conference

AWE - Aviation and Women in Europe's 4th Conference held in Sandefjord, Norway 12th - 14th September 2008 was an inspiring success!

10 countries represented: Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands, and the U.S.

Sandefjord, Norway, is a lovely city and it provided a relaxing setting for AWE08 the 4th Aviation and Women in Europe Conference. Conference highlights included greeting old friends and meeting new o­nes, discovering fascinating facts about other aviation professionals and their careers, learning ways to improve ourselves, and ultimately being inspired and rejuvenated by our passion for aviation.

Most of us arrived o­n Thursday and spent the day discovering Sandefjord. After a relaxing swim in the morning and further explorations of Sandefjord during the day o­n Friday, we registered for the conference and then met in the evening for a lively reception.

Saturday was a fulfilling day with captivating speakers during morning and afternoon sessions. Lunch was followed by a brisk walk to the souvenir shop, invigorating us for the afternoon session. Michelle Bassanesi invited us to her room before the evening banquet to enjoy a view of the fjord and sip champagne. The banquet was a delicious and, o­nce again, lively gathering of conference attendees.

On Sunday we had the chance to enjoy a 2.5 hour ferry ride to Stromstad, a beautiful town in the neighboring country of Sweden. A self-guided walking tour of Stromstad was followed by a fabulous buffet lunch o­n the return ferry, providing a means to replenish the calories lost in our ‘arduous’ exploration of Sweden. After returning to Norway, we said our goodbyes and started our journeys home.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A quick summary of the conference sessions follow:

Michelle Bassanesi
opened the conference by introducing the Deputy Mayor of Sandefjord. He provided a brief history of the city, reviewed the tourist highlights such as the Viking Museum and the Whaling Museum, and showed a short film emphasizing the business attributes of the city.

Deborah Limb
of Boeing provided the inspirational keynote speech. Similar to her speech at the general session in San Diego, she used her own life experiences to connect with and grab the hearts of conference attendees. Using a mixture of seriousness and humor, she provided some tools we can use in our personal and business lives.

We can choose to be leaders when faced with tough situations. Here are a set of four questions we can answer when making a tough decision:

What are the harms?
What are the promises (explicit and implicit)?
What is fair (to both sides)?
How does it stand up to public scrutiny?

We can improve our chances of success in business by behaving professionally and dressing professionally, seeking out a mentor, asking for feedback, being accountable, learning how to make a difference, and being true to our values.

We can also use humor as an antidote if we encounter individuals who view us in a stereotypical manner; “labels are for cans” can be as a humorous reminder for others to treat us as individuals rather than as stereotypes.

Marianne Knutsen
, Norway’s second woman F-16 pilot, spoke to us via the speaker phone o­n Michelle’s cell phone. Her daughter had a very high fever and Marianne was unable to attend in person. When she first began flying she described it as her “testosterone period.” Later when she decided to have a family, she felt she had to “swallow a huge hairy camel” as she chose between career and family. Fortunately, she was able to do both, by holding staff jobs during her pregnancies. And with her last pregnancy, she was able to share maternity leave with her husband. After six weeks of recovery, she worked for two days of the week and her husband worked the other three days of the week. Throughout her military career she has encountered very little negative energy because of her gender.

Heide Smale
provides private flight attendant training through her company Swan Heights. Key components of the training are the following:

    1. Safety, security, and CRM.
    2. Hospitality including shining shoes, etiquette, and culture.
    3. Food and beverage, including bartending with limited resources.

She also provides corporate flight attendant training, and hospitality training for pilots of private jets with no flight attendants.

Maintaining a positive attitude is important. Instead of saying “no problem,” respond with the more positive “I will take care of it.” She says the key to being a good flight attendant is to work like a swan—to appear serene and calm o­n the surface, while paddling like mad under the water.

Kalsi Devinder, a corporate mechanic, was born in Kenya and moved to the UK when he was a child. It was obvious from his stories how much he has enjoyed being a corporate mechanic and traveling the world in corporate jets. Because he spends more time with individual aircraft, he enjoys the personal connection to them. He also considers it very important to mentor young people of both genders to help them follow their dreams.

Sandrine Rohrer, who teaches Fem Do Chi, spoke o­n self-defense issues for women. She said that she can easily teach women the physical aspects of self-defense, but it is much more difficult to teach us to be willing to defend ourselves. She blames this o­n cultural pressure for women to be meek and quiet, and o­n our low self-esteem. Women are most often attacked by people we know. In such cases, we sometimes think we caused the attack, or we doubt our own value to the point that we feel we don’t have the right to defend ourselves. She hopes that with awareness training we will be willing to defend ourselves against personal attack. The good news is that the younger generation appears more likely to defend themselves, indicating an improvement in our collective self-esteem.

Lt Teresa Favino, Italian Red Cross, enjoys being a flight nurse, because it combines her passions for nursing and for flying. Imagine being lowered by cable from a helicopter through a canopy of trees, to a patient who is otherwise unreachable and being able to help that person survive. That is just o­ne exciting part of her job. Her most memorable job was spending a month and a week in Baghdad, Iraq. She lived o­n the top floor of the hospital and was not allowed to leave the building, but was able to help burn patients recover from their wounds.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Aviation for Women November Issue page 8

ISA+21 December 2008 Newsletter page 13/14

Comments from attendees:

Thanks a million for everything you did Michelle.  It was a great conference and I really enjoyed meeting many new people.  Aviation truly is global!  I had a great time o­n our free time, touring the whaling museum and the town.  The cruise to Sweden was awesome! 

Michelle, thanks for inviting me to speak at the Aviation and Women in Europe conference.  I enjoyed meeting people who work in a variety of aviation jobs including pilots, airplane maintenance, cabin services, flight training, and several more.  You provide a positive opportunity for people to meet and learn about aviation from multiple perspectives.

It was lovely to see everyone at the weekend. I enjoyed very much having time to talk to people and I thought that despite the fact that we were a small group the variety of jobs and career paths was very wide and very interesting. The location was lovely ... I am looking forward greatly to the next opportunity to be involved in AWE and hope that I may be able to contribute more next time. Thank you for all your hard work . you do it s well!

It was truly an inspiring weekend for me. I want to thank you again for giving me the chance and opportunity to be part of the conference. I am going to see to it that I don't miss any in the future, if I can. So you have really inspired me to go ahead and get the Women in Aviation- Africa going. I have emailed some friends and I'll let you know how that goes ... I am really motivated by you. I can hardly wait to get it started. I know it is going to be a lot of work but am ready for the challenge ... Thank you so much again, Michelle. Thank you for giving me a chance to enrich my life, both professionally and personally. Kajuju Laiboni, sponsored student.

It was everything I didn't dare to hope it would be. It was an amazing experience, and I am so delighted I had a chance to meet all these wonderful people. This was a truly inspirational and motivating weekend, and it was just what the doctor ordered. The positive energy, the support, the learning and the social aspects - WOW! I feel refueled. :-) I'll be able to put more energy into the work I do for the air sports federation, and hopefully, in the process, get more girls to join AWE :-)

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AWE 08 - An Inspiring Success!

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