In the boardroom with Lou-Ann Seet
In celebration of International Women's Day Lou-Ann wants you to know she is all for ‘women supporting women’ in the aviation industry
Lou-Ann’s passion for the aviation industry started when she was a child. Her mother was with Cathay Pacific for 31 years, which actually gave Lou-Ann a rare opportunity to sit in the jump seat when she was 16 years old. “I knew then that I wanted to be a pilot, so upon graduating from university, I went on to pursue my pilot’s license in the US.” The tenacious go-getter earned her Private Pilot Licence in just two months.
From then on, she had intended to apply to cadet pilot programmes in Singapore and Hong Kong, but after failing to get in for three years, she changed paths to pursue a career in business aviation instead, determined to stay in the aviation industry. With no engineering experience, Lou-Ann was offered a chance to be a Management Trainee. She grew her career slowly, and moved on to Collins Aerospace some time later, earning her role in Avionics (Strategic Business Units) under Information Management Services, Business Aviation & Digital Solutions in Customer Support for Asia Pacific.
With her feet firmly planted in the aviation industry, it was time to look beyond just working, but serving her fellow colleagues. AsBAA reached out to Lou-Ann and asked if she was keen on running to be a part of its Board of Directors. Lou-Ann saw this as an opportunity she could not refuse. “My inner gut said, ‘if someone was willing to stick their head out to recommend me, I am going to go for it and give it a try.’”
Lou-Ann saw this as an opportunity to work on a personal goal of hers: increasing inclusion and developing women in the aviation industry. “Inclusion and development of women in the aviation industry has always been a passion project of mine, since entering the industry five years ago. As a Singaporean woman, who had no connections with anyone in the business, I know how hard it is trying to get into the industry, gaining credibility and being successful on my own terms.”
“Being a millennial female in the aviation industry can certainly be a double-edged sword,” she states matter-of-factly. “It is a male-dominated industry, so when a motivated young person is eager to learn and grow, it is important to think about how others perceive you. Personally, it is about making genuine relationships with people you can trust and rely on, and I always think about what else I can do to support others better and think collaboratively about how we could help others.”
Since joining AsBAA as one of the five nominated Vice Chairmen, Lou-Ann has been keeping busy working on her platform of developing women. “I found myself being approached by men who needed support, but it got me thinking, ‘where were the women?’” That question struck a chord deep within Lou-Ann, who wanted to know if these women also needed help and support. “I had observed that many women might not seek help in their career for various reasons or that they might not believe there could be an easier or different way in getting help they need.”
This spurred Lou-Ann to create a women’s development group – the Women’s Forum Asia at Collins Aerospace Singapore, an employee resource group that aims to empower women across four offices and plants in Singapore. She also joined the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA), which is organising an annual conference in October next year in Singapore. She will be leading a team of 18 highly connected women leaders to make the conference a success.
Focused and determined barely even begin to scratch the surface of Lou-Ann. Even when speaking about her plans for the next 10 years, there is a clear goal in what she has been working so hard for. “Aviation in the region needs to be more united and collaborative to increase education, knowledge and awareness of the industry. I take a personal responsibility to increase transparency to improve knowledge sharing,” she shares passionately. “I am looking forward to a better time to be a woman in the industry. I am excited to strive for a fulfilling career leading teams and empowering others.”
This article is a short excerpt from a full-length feature in our March/April 2020 issue of Jetgala. Subscribe today!