Taking off to Sunny Horizons
Carla da Silva, Air Mauritius Regional Manager: Southern Africa and Latin America, has 17 years’ experience in the aviation industry. She personally takes on the task of ensuring that employees are developed through mentoring and constant movement, and that they are actively involved in the company’s programmes.
Carla embarked on her aviation career as a South African Airways (SAA) air hostess, something which she is immensely proud of. Today, she holds the position of Vice President of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA), is a trustee of the Aviation Co-ordination Services, and is a Director of Air Mauritius SA (Pty) Ltd. She firmly believes in imparting knowledge, in providing her team and region with leadership, and in enabling others to grow. “I like to reward top performers and to incorporate these achievers in strategic meetings, sales conferences and key customer meetings. This ultimately inspires them and ensures their continual growth and exposure to new learning. We constantly encourage pioneering ideas and innovative approaches as significant indicators on scorecards. We do this so that our business remains truly sustainable within an industry sector where it is not easy to turn a profit,” Carla explains.
Rewarding staff for innovative and outstanding performance is realised in various ways, using non-monetary methods. For example, personnel may be granted a complimentary day or afternoon off (a ‘duvet day’). “Through our annual staff awards, top performers are acknowledged. Together with such recognition, packaged holidays to Mauritius are awarded, which employees are often unable to otherwise afford. We also reward top performers by nominating them as tour leaders, who are then invited to participate in educational visits to the island that are arranged by our travel partners and tour operators. This further empowers our staff and assists them to understand first-hand our value proposition. It also allows individuals to be the brand and to sell the product on an incredibly personal and intimate level.”
Carla goes on to stress the importance of her people. “Staff wellbeing is paramount at Air Mauritius. Ensuring that the basics such as medical schemes, vitality programmes, a pension fund, and training programmes, as well as celebrating special occasions such as birthdays and more, go a very long way.”
‘The Duracell Bunny’, as she is fondly referred to by those nearest and dearest to her; Carla’s parents taught her all that she treasures, including the following vital lessons: Never forget your roots; always be humble; and never hold grudges. This multilingual dynamo (Carla speaks and reads six languages) is incredibly modest. Little is ever mentioned of her present studies towards her PhD in aviation leadership or of how, as the youngest person and one of only a very few women enrolled, she managed to excel in her MBA – and as a working mother to boot.
Women of Worth (WOW)
In her private capacity, Carla is actively involved in raising funds for a very worthy cause. Also supporting at a corporate level, and in her prominent positioning within the aviation sector, Carla is passionate about Women of Worth (WOW), which cares for thousands of orphaned children and abused women, on an annual basis. Founded by Dr Beverly Wolmarans, the ‘I am Worthy Boutique’ was born to not only add to the daily beauty regimes of women on a physical level, but more importantly, to uplift spiritual morale and contribute back financially to the South African community.
“The deepest desire of my heart is to see ladies of all ages excel in every area of life - fulfilling their dreams and visions and being set free from any bondage that would hold them back from being all they can be,” explains Dr Wolmarans. “For this reason WOW was established, in 2009 worldwide, to bring the very best range of products to uplift, inspire and energise. Sold only through the ‘I am Worthy Boutique’ (www.iamworthy.com), these remarkable products are original, and created specifically to make one feel special.” She firmly believes that every woman can walk in victory and in the knowledge that they can conquer the world. “Women are at the heart of the nation, city and family and have a natural passion against injustice.”
The current ‘I Am Worthy’ vision is to build a Children’s Village, to care for 1 000 homeless and abandoned children. The land has already been purchased, and plans are currently underway to establish this nurturing sanctuary, complete with a clinic, schools, as well as dedicated women to care for this young community. With her incredible determination, heart and connections within the aviation industry, Carla has implored many female captains of industry to adopt this particular cause. Says Carla, “I have been supporting the ‘Women of Worth Boutique’ for the past three years. I am extremely dedicated to issues concerning the empowerment and advancement of women, and especially children in need. We, as women (and men) need to stand together in assisting in the building of future leaders of our country. This new Children’s Village will provide the necessary education and grounding - through integrity, honesty, love and good sound morals and principles, for the business world of tomorrow.”
Empowering women and caring for widows and orphans are high on WOW’s agenda, and it supports these causes with the collective time, resources and finance, of all those involved. Each product imparts an affirmation statement of, ‘I Am Worthy.’ This reminds every woman, of how special she is to God. WOW now also has a spa with three therapists, where one can enjoy and relax whilst supporting a phenomenal cause. What’s more, all the products are natural and proudly South African.
Carla believes that women in business today, must demonstrate a clear respect and appreciation for the African continent, legacy, culture, language, diversity and empowerment initiatives in South Africa. “Understanding our continent and its political affairs, our economies and establishing a broad knowledge of what is taking place in business, is worth its weight in gold.” She adds that continuously keeping abreast and differentiating oneself in the constantly evolving global village is paramount in any career. “We are moving into a ‘green’ world. Air Mauritius, in compliance with this, plants a tree every time we take-off. This adds value to our communities, and serves as an example of the national carrier redefining itself.”
Carla describes how a woman (and man) should exhibit the following traits in business, in order to contribute positively to any organisation or business: He or she must be colourful, honest, and humane, lead with a heart, be absolutely focused and possess perseverance, energy and an edge. Carla is also a firm believer in individuals creating a dream wall - which he or she believes in, and employs to leave footprints in hearts of those involved in and along their visionary journey. A tall order it may seem, but one Carla achieves with ease and professional grace.
To conclude, Carla shares her two favourite quotes, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” by Nelson Mandela and “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new,” by Albert Einstein.
“It is very hard getting up after you have fallen or made a mistake, but getting up; remaining focussed, determined and confident about your goal - is what matters. You will succeed, achieve, and your dream wall will come alive – if you learn from your mistakes, arise and keep going,” wise words from Carla.
NEWSLETTER | MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN
by Shalane van Rensburg