“There are many roads to explore, and many ways to reach your goals and dreams. Women should never limit themselves.”
As a young girl, growing up in Montreal, Patricia Gauthier had an undeniable connection to aviation. “My dad used to take me on his business trips to Toronto. At the time, flying was extremely expensive so we would have to drive, but we would always stay in hotels near the Toronto airport. When my dad wasn’t working, I would beg him to take me to the highest floor of the airport parking lot, where we would sit and watch airplanes take off for hours.”
All signs pointed to a career in aviation and travel for Patricia, so when WestJet came to Montreal in 2003, she quickly jumped on the opportunity to become a part-time CSA at WestJet. Now, 17 years later, Patricia is trilingual (she speaks English, Spanish and French), with a major in communications, a certification in cross-cultural communication for global business and is the regional manager of International Operations at WestJet.
We sat down with Patricia and asked her a few questions about her passion for aviation, WestJet, her desire to get more women in strong leadership positions throughout the industry, and the importance of Women in Aviation week.
How has aviation changed since you were first hired?
Global connectivity has greatly impacted WestJet and my role. I started as a frontline agent, operating our domestic routes and transitioned into a local training instructor. It wasn’t until WestJet became an international carrier that my career took off and I started managing our bases abroad, working with our partners all over the world.
The growing connectivity of our world, in many ways is ultimately what created an opportunity for me to step into a leadership position. WestJet transitioning from a domestic to an international airline created more career opportunities for everyone.
More importantly, our world becoming more connected provided women with a platform to showcase their talent and tell their story. Through the power of media, women have become increasingly more visible succeeding in both leadership and traditional male roles.
What would you like to see change in the industry?
It seems to still surprise the travelling public to hear a female pilot come on the PA, or a female Aircraft Maintenance Engineer sign off on an aircraft. Visibility is everything, I would like to see more women operating in leadership and operations positions until it becomes normalized.
I look forward to seeing more female representation in leadership positions at both WestJet and within the broader aviation industry.
What advice would you give to young girls and women who are interested in the industry?
Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to consider roles that challenge you. If I had a crystal ball in my youth, I would never have believed I’d become an international business manager – but here I am, with a career and traveling opportunities I’ve always dreamt of. There are many roads to explore, and many ways to reach your goals and dreams. Women should never limit themselves.
To learn more, visit westjet.com/womeninaviation.