Celebrating the women of aviation at YWG

March 3, 2024

Categories: At YWG

Did you know girls are three times less likely to be introduced to careers in aviation? The industry isn’t just about flying planes! From airfield maintenance to terminal operations and IT, the sky’s truly the limit. 
 
To help celebrate Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, which runs from March 4 –10, and showcase some of the exciting opportunities within the sector, we’d like to introduce you to a few of the women of Winnipeg Airports Authority who are helping connect Manitoba to the world. 

Taylor Larson, Airfield Maintenance Specialist 

I always knew I’d have a job that was a little more hands-on or active, but aviation wasn’t on my radar… I just fell into it! What I love most about working at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport is that every day is different. The goal is to get everyone cross-trained on everything so we’re able to hop from one piece of equipment to the next, depending on the day, but I do love the loader. There’s something about the hard and fast rules on the airfield that I love, how specific communication methods have to be used, and how things change really quickly. If I’m leading for the day, I’m not just worried about what I’m doing, but I’m listening for when planes are landing, communicating with the control tower, knowing when it’s safe to cross a runway and learning where to look in the sky. There’s always something more to learn—I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the systems that make an airport work. If we get a decent snowfall, we’re busy around the clock trying to keep up. The approach to Runway 36 has 480 lights we need to shovel around, and there are thousands more across the airfield. You have to be flexible and creative to pull on your team’s strength to get things done. There are endless moving pieces, and I’m proud to be a part of the puzzle that keeps the airport running. 

 

Rajpreet Lehra, Associate Airport Systems Analyst, IT 

I actually worked on the airfield briefly after I started at the airport in 2020. I got super close to planes, which was such a cool experience. I got to see the whole process, like how the bridges are connected to the aircraft, and became familiar with the other side of airport operations. This helped me understand how everything works on the IT side. My previous role within our IT department as a system and support technician was a lot of setting things up, but now project planning is the biggest part of my day. It’s a lot of communicating with the team, going over the impact of everything, making note of every detail, and ensuring everyone knows what’s happening. I love it. The experience you get at the airport—you can’t get it anywhere else. Things move quick here!  IT is not only about technical work, fixing or troubleshooting. It’s more about innovation and introducing new things, whatever is happening in the outside world, to the internal airport environment. 

Ricki McArthur, Manager of Passenger Operations 

I grew up in Salmon Arm, BC, and I remember my first flight from Kelowna to Toronto as a kid. I think that’s when I fell in love with planes. While attending university in Calgary, I would drive to the airport and watch planes land and take off after class. Still, there was no aspiration to go into aviation. There was a very clear love for it, but I never correlated the two! Then, 15 years ago, I took a hiatus from teaching and got hired as a WestJet Customer Service Agent. I immediately fell in love with it, and my career just evolved from there. I transferred to Winnipeg and progressed through different roles, from Baggage Service Agent to Guest Service Manager, before joining WAA in 2021. Every day looks completely different, but as Manager of Passenger Operations, I’m responsible for everything from parking to when a passenger steps on the aircraft. I like it all, I really do, but the best part of my day is when I’m running around between meetings and catch a quick glimpse of passengers reuniting with loved ones. Those little moments that pull at your heartstrings make aviation a passion for me. My proudest moment so far is taking the lead in coordinating the arrival of federal charter flights at YWG for Ukrainian refugees. It was a significant undertaking, but again, it all comes down to seeing those passengers walk off the bridge. Whether you work for an airline, an airport or a regulator, there are so many moving parts to get one flight off the ground. It takes so much correlated effort from many different people and partners. 

 

Sukhjeet Kaur, Associate Airport Systems Analyst, IT 

My favourite thing about working in IT is learning new things every day. Technology is always changing, so it’s challenging, but exciting too! I think the best part about working in aviation is seeing all the things I wouldn’t be able to see as a passenger. Now, at every airport I go to, I notice how everything works. Before, I had no clue what was happening behind the scenes. It was fun for me to learn about aviation and how IT fits into it all! I get to work with different departments and learn more about what they do. My most memorable moment so far was seeing Porter Airlines’ first flight land at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. It was the first major project I worked on, so it was a proud moment. For every plane in the air, there are hundreds of people behind the scenes helping it fly. 

If you’re interested in taking off on an exciting journey within aviation, visit the Careers page of our website to learn more about opportunities at WAA and with our partners who operate at YWG. 

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