In honor of Women in Aviation month, we’re featuring ExpressJet women who have successful careers in aviation and continue to advance the legacy of women in the industry.
“The familial environment of working for an airline made me feel right at home,” said Kristina.
Kristina’s aviation career began in 1998 by pure chance when a friend announced she needed a roommate to relocate in North Carolina.
“My friend bet me that I wouldn’t move with her and I bet her that I would. And I did.”
She found a classified ad for American Airlines and was hired by their call center. In 2002, her college professor told her Continental Express Airlines was hiring for positions at the Asheville airport and suggested she apply.
“Originally, I applied to finish my internship requirements but the job stuck with me.”
Kristina worked as a cross-utilized agent in Asheville which lead to her current position as manager of ExpressJet’s voluntary reporting programs, such as ASAP and the Fatigue Program.
“I like to say we’re the mortar in the bricks. We take the data that comes from pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and dispatchers and we help sort through and disseminate that information back to the frontline.”
Back in her early days in aviation, Kristina didn’t find many women pursuing careers in the airline industry as a long-term goal.
“When I first started out, I worked with a good amount of women, but for many, including myself initially, it was just a job. But I was very lucky to go to Newark for a training class and meet the instructor, an incredibly smart woman named Rose Marie Morgan.”
Kristina approached Rose, who still works for ExpressJet, to offer her bilingual skills as a Spanish speaker and Kristina ended up working directly for her in Houston.
“Under her guidance, I learned how to train people and how to conduct new hire classes for employees working in the airports. She was a great influence and I credit her for making me think of my job as a new career,” said Kristina.
Kristina believes there is a lack of awareness of the diverse career opportunities within the industry, especially among those unfamiliar with an airline’s behind-the-scene jobs.
“From the outside looking in, people tend to have a skewed viewpoint of what they can do at an airline. You’re either a pilot or a flight attendant and that’s it. In reality, there are so many careers women could easily accomplish if the knowledge was out there.”
Since 1998, Kristina has witnessed a huge increase in the number of women she interacts with in her job.
“I remember going to industry meetings and when I looked around the room, there were maybe a handful of women. Now, it’s 40 to 45 percent. Of course, it depends on the group but there are more women than ever before.” Kristina encourages others to have passion, persistence, and an open attitude in order to achieve a successful and fulfilling career. She also recognizes the breakthroughs women have made to accomplish their career goals within the industry.
“Everything should always be based on merit and being a woman doesn’t mean you can’t do something,” she said. “But I think that first woman, and every woman to follow her, made a tremendous impact on the others who looked inside and said, ‘Hey, I can do that too.’”