The quest for increased women participation in aviation is not just for gender equality, but more to bolster aviation professionals critical for industry sustainability. Queen Ndlovu, CEO, QP Drone Tech, and MD, South Africa Flying Labs, here gives deeper insights and exciting success story in this regard.
Q: How would you describe the level of women in leadership position in the Aviation industry in Africa?
A: I personally view those kind of women in Aviation as bold, risk takers and innovative. Kudus to them! It is a rare breed but thanks to the drone industry which has made the industry more accessible. The industry has been dominated by foreigners because it is perceived as complex and inaccessible.
Q: Would you say there are enough efforts from the industry and society to encourage women participation in the aviation industry in Africa?
A: I wouldn’t say enough is done but definitely there is some progress in ensuring that women do occupy the space. But a lot needs to be done still. However, I need to share that one has to work hard to show up and fight for the equity within the space. Be part of the relevant network and ensure that you get noticed even if it means in other instances you just create your own case study to demonstrate your capabilities.
Clients are still not comfortable in giving us sizeable projects due to lack of trust, therefore we have to work extraordinarily hard to prove ourselves. I do that by partnering with well-established brands. This gives an easy entry whilst learning and leveraging on each other’s resources and branding.
Q: What motivated you to go into the aviation industry?
A: I have been into business for more than 20 years predominantly in Management Consulting and Training. I wanted to do something different within a Tech space. The business school that I have attended provided a module of various technologies and I chose the drone technology. Thereafter I travelled and spent 6 months in Shengzen, China in 2018 to learn more about the drone technology.
It’s such an exciting and fascinating industry to be in. However, it comes with its own challenges; expensive to operate whether you want to become an operator, a drone pilot or a manufacturer. The entry levels are just costly which results in exclusion of new entrants. Some countries and customers haven’t fully adopted the drone technology; however there is light at the end of the channel. I think there are signs of this emerging technology entering its growth phase.
Q: As the CEO- QP Drone Tech, International Published Drone Author, MD- South Africa Flying Labs, how have you engaged in enhancing the number and quality of women in aviation?
A: We appoint young interns to introduce them to the industry, mentoring, guest lecturing and through participating and hosting drone conferences and inviting few young people to attend with us. We execute drone projects in community and invite the local players to be part of it.
We need to be intentional how we encourage young people to know and enter the space by catching them young. We can achieve that by promoting STEM education at schools or through holiday camps, encourage career exhibitions and having some role models being identified and visible.
Q: As the industry is apprehensive over shortage of aviation professionals due to ageing and retirements as well as the impact of the COVID-19, how do you see the future of the industry over the next 10 years, and what is the way forward?
A: Plethora of opportunities here as it is reported that within the next 3-4 years drone industry will be booming, accounting for multi-billions of Rand. The stats are there to show. There is so much career and business prospect within the industry because this tech could be applied in all the sectors practically like Agriculture, Mining, Tech for Good , etc. There are careers to choose from maintenance and repairs technician, author, etc.