Sylvia showed it’s possible to be your own boss in aviation

The company has experienced personnel to ensure operators have a smooth and hassle-free flight. Simon Kupalia Going after what you want in life is a gift; a woman going after what men want in life is the ultimate blessing. Indeed, few women like Sylvia Mutunga have stepped up to the plate and decided they are built for business – becoming your own boss and living life on your own terms. She grew up in Nairobi and schooled in Makutano AIC Boarding School. That was before she joined St Paul Secondary School where her passion for aviation blossomed. After high school, she immediately matriculated at East African School of Aviation – the centre of excellence in aviation academics in East and Central Africa – and pursued a certificate in flight dispatch for a year. In 2016, she joined Kenya National Police Airwing as a trainee performing duties such crew scheduling, updating of aeronautical information, flight monitoring and operating radio equipment. STARTING OWN COMPANY About the same year, she joined Fly540 Aviation performing the same flight dispatch duties as a trainee and eventually got absorbed by Aeroglobil Aviation Services as an operational specialist. She worked for a year before starting her own company - AeroFix Logistics. According to Sylvia, starting the company was arduous given that she had no money. However, through family support, she was able to start the company. The family believed in her vision and hard work. “My mother and sister would tell me to get a business deal and they will finance. They always believed in me and have always looked at me as a go-getter. I will get anything I set out to get,” she spoke. NO EASY RIDE AeroFix is a flight support company with extensive experienced personnel to ensure operators have a smooth and hassle-free flight. The company offers such services as overflight/landing permits, ground handling, jet A1 fuel, meet and greet, hotac, air charter, and crew support. In her five years running the company she has experienced a fair share of challenges which include but not limited to lack of finances. She cites the company during low seasons her workers need to get paid and other utility bills and also the fact that it is a requirement they have a bank account in every country they do business in. “When a client calls and say ‘hey I’m in South Africa and would like to get some clearance’ that would mean our account in that country must have money all the time because you never know when and where the client may be calling you from.” Other challenges she has faced before also included late payments by clients – “You see my business is based on trust and sometimes a client might request for services on credit and then end up paying weeks or a months after delivery,” she added. Language barrier has also always come in the way when the client is from a non-English speaking country like Somalia and so she is forced to interpret a communication as the client deems right. Sylvia, being the only woman in her line of business in the country, has experienced discrimination and disdain from male counterparts. “In essence there is no business that doesn’t have challenges!” she exclaimed. CHARITY PROGRAMMES Her dedication and drive to lead a successful business in aviation is evident and she prides herself to have never had a résumé because she set herself up to be the kind of a person who would instead be receiving other people’s résumés. Her company has four permanent employees, but also subcontracts a lot especially with business activities to be carried out in other countries. Sylvia is a fervent traveler and generally a lover of adventure – “I am basically a fan of life!” she crooned. She is equally an enthusiastic church participant and through the church she has been able to empower vulnerable children and women in charity programmes. She wants to be an encouragement to the next generation that running your own company in aviation as a woman can actually work and one can make it big eventually with commitment and consistency.