Bristow's Akon Udoma: Achieving success through determination and focus
In honor of Women's History Month at Bristow, we feature Licensed Aircraft Engineer Akon Udoma from our base in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Tell me about your family. Where did you grow up and where have you lived? What are some of the things you enjoyed doing in your youth?
I am from Mkpanak, Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State (Nigeria). I am the youngest of four children. My husband Godwin and I are blessed with two boys.
I grew up in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State. I have lived in Ibeno, Eket, Calabar, and presently living in Port Harcourt. During my childhood I enjoyed participating in athletics, reading, cooking and singing in the church choir.
As a Licensed Aircraft Engineer, would you share your background and the path you took that brought you to Bristow? Was there anything unique about that journey?
I obtained a Postgraduate Diploma (PDG) in Information Technology from Federal University of Science and Technology, Owerri, Imo State, and Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Statistics from University of Calabar.
I had no knowledge of the aviation industry until I was employed on contracts with Bristow for the role of Radio Operator after my National Youth Service Corp. In a few months, l learned a lot about aviation and different fields of study, such as flying and engineering, which require more rigorous training. This motivated me to change my career path and either become a pilot or an engineer. I discovered that I had no flare for flying, which left me to pursue an engineering career.
I achieved my vision and goal and became an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, courtesy of Bristow Helicopters Nigeria Limited (BHNL) who trained me at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria, and outside the country as well.
The thing unique about the journey is that I was among the very first helicopter-trained Airframe / Powerplant Engineers at NCAT in Zaria.
Did you face any challenges? How did you overcome them?
YES! There is no achievement without challenges.
Imagine being the only female graduate of mathematics/statistics, transiting to an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering in a class of 15 students. That is why I am the only female A/C Engineer in BHNL.
I overcame challenges by staying focused and determined to achieve my goal.
What’s a typical day like?
As an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, I have the opportunity of travelling to different parts of the world and working with different people, making it possible for me to learn some of their principles and culture.
A typical day for an AME is to ensure aircraft fly safely under the guidance of the manufacturer's maintenance manual as well as company procedures. I work on the line and base maintenance in support of all the aircraft we fly in Nigeria, which includes scheduled inspections for aircraft airworthiness.
What was the greatest lesson you learned from a colleague or mentor?
The greatest lesson I learned from a colleague is to focus and be consistent while providing maximum sustainable effort every day. Some days, of course, will be harder and some easier, but by pushing forward steadily you will achieve your goals.
Who inspires you (work, personal and / or historical)?
Captain Bala, who motivated me as a young woman to become an Engineer, and Engineer Moois Lawal, who encouraged and supported me during my time at the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaira.
What advice do you have for women just beginning their career?
Stay focused and cultivate confidence in your career. There’s nothing you can’t achieve if you put your mind and effort to it.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
When I’m not working, I love spending quality time with my family.
Bristow Licensed Aircraft Engineer Akon Udoma is shown on the far right.