Aviation for Women

MAY-JUN 2018

Aviation for Women is the flagship member publication of Women in Aviation International. Articles feature women who have made aviation history, professional development ideas, and current-topic articles.

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20 AviationforWomen M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 M any people think that to have a career in aviation you need only to have skills in math and science. Jessi Rowden, WAI 73822, and general manager of Cut- ter Aviation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, says, "That's not true." In her line of work, the so-called soft skills—the ability to read people and anticipate the customer's needs—are priorities. "You are solv- ing problems all day long," Jessi explains. "You are taking care of people and helping people get things done." Jessi, age 37, has been with Cutter Aviation for 13 years. The company is one of the oldest family-owned fixed base operators (FBOs) in the United States with locations in New Mexico, Colo- rado, and Arizona. FBOs are places pilots park their airplanes when they travel. Staff there handle everything from refueling aircraft, arranging catering, and reserving hotel rooms and rental cars. "I started at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) loca- tion as a customer service representative. Within three months I was customer service supervisor," Jessi says. "After six months with the company, I was asked to assume the role of facility man- ager for Cutter Aviation Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT). I did that for approximately a year and was then asked to open and op- erate the new Colorado Springs facility in July 2006. In 2014, the manager of Cutter Aviation Albuquerque was retiring after 42 years of service and I was asked to step in and take charge of the facility here as the general manager. At this time, I am the only general manager with all four FBO facilities under my belt." Jessi describes Iberia, Missouri, where she grew up, as "a small town where people tend to stay their whole lives." It was in Iberia in an antique store where Jessi started her customer service career. "I was 13 years old at the time. I was hired to work with someone, then in a few months found myself running it." Jessi attended Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mis- souri, pursuing a degree in secondary education social sciences. "At the time, I thought I was going to be a teacher because real- ly that was all I was exposed to growing up," she explains. Oddly enough, it was working in the food service industry—waiting ta- bles and managing a bar—that gave her a taste of customer service with a band of regulars. "People have likes and dislikes, and they really like it when you remember what they like and don't like. To this day I can tell you what certain people like to drink," she says. Jessi also realized she enjoyed working with children, but didn't care for the school sys- tem. In 2002, she started looking for work outside of academia. "I had a family member who worked part time at Jackson Hole Aviation in Wyoming. He told me they were hiring. He took me for my I n v e s t i n g i n Y o u r C u s t o m e r s B Y M E G G O D L E W S K I F B O V I E W

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