Pavitira Sanker is one of two recipients of the Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) Women in Aviation Scholarship fund, in partnership with Cranfield University. Here, Pavitira, who is studying for an MSc in Air Transport Management, talks about her passion for the air transport industry, why she chose Cranfield, and the career path she hopes to take upon graduating.
What sparked your interest in the air transport industry?
Being born into a household of aviation enthusiasts, my passion for this field is in my genes. My admiration for this industry dates to my childhood days when my father’s colleagues from operating crew permitted me to visit the cockpit during our family trips. Seeing the entire atmosphere just made me fall in love with aircraft. Since then, I was determined to study and pursue a career in the air transport industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about your life before coming to Cranfield?
I am an Indian national, born and raised in Dubai, and I secured a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from BITS Pilani Dubai. In addition to my course subjects, I undertook several projects during my undergraduate studies which I feel was the natural progression to my next step towards a career in aviation.
As a purchase department intern in Intercoil International, Dubai, during the second year of my undergraduate degree, I gained valuable insights into supply chain functions. After my graduation, I worked as a conformity engineer in TUV Nord Middle East, Dubai, for about a year and half. I prepared and implemented technical instructions according to standards and schemes and performed evaluation, review, and approval activity, making sure the certified products comply with ISO, QHSE and CMS standards. This gave me the requisite exposure to working with a team of multi-cultural and experienced professionals.
Why did you choose Cranfield?
My choice to pursue my Master’s in Cranfield was due to the quality of education and resultant recognition Cranfield University receives in the aviation sector. It is also an exclusive postgraduate university – highly inclined towards research and innovation – which attracted me the most.
What does winning the NAC Women in Aviation scholarship mean to you?
I am extremely delighted to be the chosen candidate for the NAC Women in Aviation Scholarship. This truly is a huge honour and a significant milestone in my journey towards becoming a successful professional in the aviation industry. As a woman who is passionate about aviation, this scholarship has given me the stepping stone on which my pursuit of excellence will be based, thus helping me in my dream to contribute to the industry I admire the most.
How are you finding the course? What are the highlights?
Coming from a purely technical background, my aim was to understand the commercial aspect of the industry and this course has opened up a whole new dimension of the industry. The beauty of the Air Transport Management MSc is that every new module taught talks about a different aspect of the industry. This course is extremely well designed, with immense knowledge imparted about the management view of the air transport industry. The highlight of this course would have to be the guest lectures delivered by industry specialists. Throughout the course, for each module we have at least two guest speakers who share their experiences and knowledge about the subject, which is truly an eye-opener.
What career path do you hope to pursue after graduating?
I am looking to pursue a career in airline operations and maintenance as it is an extremely challenging field that would require critical thinking and problem-solving skills that would push me to learn more each day. I am very confident that the knowledge gained from Cranfield would serve me well in my chosen field of work and help me excel with my contribution.
What would you say to other women interested in getting into your industry?
If you are a woman interested in getting into the aviation industry, I would encourage you to pursue your passion and not let any perceived barriers stop you. While the industry has historically been male dominated, the landscape is changing, and there are more opportunities for women than ever before. You may face some challenges along the way, but with hard work, determination, and the right support network, you can achieve your goals. So, don’t be afraid to take that first step and explore the many exciting and rewarding career paths in aviation! Last but not least, enjoy the perks of this industry – fly high literally and explore the world.
What are your thoughts about the future of the aviation industry?
The aviation sector is continually changing, and a number of factors are influencing how it will develop in the future. The rising demand for air travel is one significant trend, particularly in developing countries like Asia and Africa. This is fuelling the construction of airport infrastructure as well as the emergence of low-cost carriers. The second significant trend in the industry is the attempt to reduce carbon emissions and create more effective and ecologically-friendly travel. In the years to come, the sector may be significantly impacted by the development of new technology like autonomous and electric aircraft. Overall, the aviation sector is poised for continuous expansion and innovation, and the industry will remain resilient despite all odds, due to global connectivity, trade, and tourism.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
I have excelled in public speaking, acted in stage dramas, represented my school/university in sports, participated in all events and been student leader for four consecutive years. I have also been a part of associations such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Mechanical Engineering Association (MEA).
Find out more about the NAC Women in Aviation Scholarship.