WAA employees sharing stories of success, inspiration for International Women’s Day
March 8, 2020
“Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, takeoff! But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.”
It’s not surprising a quote from aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart inspires Leah Kosolofski. After all, they’re both connected to the same industry. Their work is also helping to create opportunities for women.
“I never really had any female role models or mentors growing up,” said Kosolofski. “It was all male. For me, it’s kind of a personal thing where I want to be that voice out there and blaze the trail for the up and coming.”
Kosolofski joined Winnipeg Richardson International Airport in 2004 as an emergency responder. Throughout her 16-year career with the organization, she’s risen up the ranks to her current position of Fire Captain – the first female to hold the role at YWG.
“I think times have changed,” said Kosolofski. “Fire departments are seeing that women add a unique perspective to the job.”
Not just in a fire hall but every workplace. Numerous studies have shown female representation makes a company more productive, leads to more innovative thinking and attracts better talent. Simply put, gender diversity builds stronger organizations.
“Women tend to speak up,” said Winnipeg Airports Authority Board of Directors Chair Brita Chell. “They’re not afraid to talk about the touchy-feely issues. Just their approach to their decision making process, they’ve concluded that women have a very positive impact on the effectiveness of organizations.”
On January 1, 2020, Chell became the first female to chair WAA’s Board of Directors. Even though she’s seen a lot of progress when it comes to women in the workplace, she believes there’s still a long way to go.
“If you look at the workforce or enrollment at universities, 50 per cent or more are women,” said Chell. “Yet we don’t have that representation on either senior executive levels or on board compositions. Having said that, I think WAA has been a leader in this area. I think there’s been a real conscious effort to have diversity on all levels.”
WAA is an employment equity employer which prides itself in attracting engaged employees with the right skills, in the right place and at the right time.
“This organization in particular has been very good,” said Christina Redmond, Manager of Airport Operations. “My leadership, both male and female, they don’t see me as a female in aviation. They see me as my capabilities. It really opens my image to where I can go to with the organization.”
Redmond, Chell and Kosolofski all share the same belief - you can’t do it by yourself. They say finding a role model to learn from and be supported by is extremely important. It’s why all three give back to the community through a variety of organizations, such as Girls in Aviation, in hopes of inspiring younger women to soar.
“Just know there are people that are going to believe you can do it,” said Redmond. “If you have that belief, other people are going to see that and they’ll want to be part of that journey with you. They will move things off your path so you can achieve that clear end goal.”
At WAA, female role models such as Chell, Redmond and Kosolofski as well as many others across the organization are all part of the equation in ensuring future generations have a runway to achieve their goals.