Aviation Career Coach, Dawn Whyte Aviation Career Coaching
My name is Dawn Whyte and I am an aviation career coach. Aviation has always been part of my life. My father was an airline pilot. When I ws 16, I started my own journey by becoming a private pilot. I knew I didn’t want to be an airline pilot like my father, I wanted to be an air traffic controller. In 1990, I received my licence and my first posting in Vancouver as an IFR controller.
For almost 30 years, I loved my career. I have been a controller, an instructor, and a supervisor. I have worked in various units and in air traffic management. Traffic management is required when there is too much demand and not enough capacity. In March 2020, demand all but disappeared and along with it, my job. My team and I were made redundant in the fall of 2020. I found losing my job very difficult. I always thought of myself as resilient, yet in this moment, I felt anything but resilient.
During my time between air traffic management and whatever came next, I went back to school to become a certified life coach. As a supervisor, my leadership style was certainly a coaching one and I wanted to pursue further education in regards to it. During the coaching course, I realized that if I was struggling mentally and coaching helped me, then maybe there were others in the industry who were also struggling. I decided to blend the two things I knew and loved most – aviation and coaching.
I did eventually go back to air traffic control. In 2021, I also created a coaching company that supports men and women in their aviation journey. I focus on one-on-one coaching and workshops to raise awareness around values, goal setting and resilience. I look forward to the new opportunities 2023 has to further connect with people.
Building Resilience in the Workplace
The cyclical nature of the aviation industry creates a challenging situation where many qualified and experienced persons leave positions during downturns to find more stable employment situations. One approach to recruiting and retaining qualified employees is to ensure their professional development includes personal wellness training. A holistic approach to an employee’s health is absolutely critical in an industry based on safety.
While in its infancy stage for many organizations, leaders and trainers need to address mental wellness for personnel as the industry moves forward. Building resilience in an individual is a starting point for addressing mental wellness. Resilience in employees is associated with greater job satisfaction, improved self-esteem, and a sense of purpose and control over one’s personal and professional life. For employers, this approach results in greater organizational commitment, employee engagement and productivity.
Resilience is not an end goal, rather a journey that takes attention and practice. This discussion will begin with understanding why resilience isn’t instinctive or natural, what prevents humans from developing resilience and conclude by addressing how we can build resilience with practical examples. This is a must for anyone who wants to view challenges as opportunities for growth and appropriate for both individuals and teams.