Air Traffic & Navigation Services (ATNS) hosted its inaugural Blueprint Graduation Event on Friday, August 23, at the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, where more than 90 students, mostly women, graduated from one of three specialised leadership courses.

The courses, Nine Conversations, Women’s Management Development Programme, and Mentor and Mentees, are being used to bolster ATNS’ current and future leadership throughout the ranks and promote transformation with a focus on gender.

"Organisational leaders face increasingly complex challenges that involve organisational changes, volatile market dynamics, talent and skills shortages," says Sindisiwe Chikunga, MP and deputy minister of transport. "In order to overcome these complex challenges leaders must create a culture that is agile enough to address these difficulties. In addition, this agility must manifest in a leader’s ability to optimally manage the talent and development pipeline."

Aviation has been a typically male dominated industry and these programmes aim to provide a platform for women employees, who exhibit special talents and who show clear growth potential in their areas of work, to improve their skills, knowledge and competencies.

Nine Conversations is a nine-month leadership development programme that develops leadership competency through conversation between students and between students and coaches. Ninety of ATNS’ employees completed the programme.
Women’s Management Development Programme offered development opportunities by empowering women who work at ATNS to function as supervisors, managers and executives.

The Mentor and Mentees programme teaches and instils an ethos of coaching and mentoring in the organisation for optimal knowledge and skills transfer.

ATNS chairman, Mpho Mamashela, says: "My board and I see the opportunities available in this country but we need capable leaders to take the yoke and capitalise on the potential. With enough South Africans to take leadership roles our whole country can benefit, not just individuals or individual organisations. Women represent an enormous resource pool that, if nurtured correctly, can take the lead. One of my directors, Thandeka Mgoduso, is a very accomplished leader and she balances being a mother, a director, and studying, which is exemplary. It is an astounding feat."

The transport ministry has been actively supporting the South African aviation industry, particularly ATNS, through active participation in product and services launches, corporate social investment (CSI) and industry conferences. The deputy minister recently said at the Aviation Industry Transformation Letsema: "The Letsema must allow us to share experiences while we seek to address transformation issues, the under-supply of critical and scarce skills conditions in our country."

Mgoduso says: "Empowerment exists when individuals willingly align their personal values and contributions with the values of the organisation. It exists when leadership validates, encourages and supports each contribution given to the achievement of the vision."