The Journey | Anny Divya – Commandeering a successful flight path
India’s Premiere English business news channel BTVI has launched a new series titled ‘The Journey’, presented by Hyundai, featuring famous personalities from various sectors who will share their success stories and future plans. The show will mainly concentrate on how they built their careers and stayed ahead of competition in today’s fast changing environment.
The trendsetters, the famous personalities, the voices and faces that everyone looks up to. But it all didn’t begin that way, and this journey – starting from scratch to reach the pinnacles of success – is nothing short of inspirational.
‘Hyundai Presents The Journey’ airs on Business Television India (BTVI) every Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 1.30 pm.
Episode 2 – The Journey with Anny Divya
The second episode of The Journey features a very special person – Anny Divya. The strong-willed lady had done the country proud by becoming the world’s youngest women commander to fly a Boeing 777. In her journey to achieve this success, Divya had to fight through set society conventions, language issues and more to stand out in a profession where the number of women is very less.
To Watch Full Episode Click here.
Take us through how it all started. When did you think of this profession? Was it your childhood dream, and how did you pursue it?
I am extremely thankful for where I am today. I have been in the right place at the right time and yes, I have worked hard. I had been in situations where I could have left, but I know I have to be here right now and fight with things to achieve my dreams.
Coming from a humble background – dad was in the army and mom is a house wife – I had very little exposure while I was growing up. The place where I come from, people mostly become doctors and engineers. So, if you thought of doing something different, there would be questions raised about it. But I would look up at the clouds and say that I wanted to be there. Initially I didn’t even know that I had to be a pilot to be up there, all I knew was that I wanted to fly. I was 10 when my mother told me I could fly if I became a pilot and it got ingrained in my brain.
My will to become a pilot became stronger as I grew up, and my teachers and parents were very supportive. Though my teachers couldn’t exactly guide me in aviation, they taught me how to be where I wanted to reach. I kept on asking people and finally got one right lead to go to.
To Watch Full Episode Click here.
What are the challenges that you have faced to make it there?
To start with, it was challenging to get into an unknown field like aviation, especially for a girl, because at that time not many women were into aviation. Today, it is much better, even though the number of women in aviation is less, it is still way better than what it was at that time. Women in aviation are about 13-15 per cent globally, while we are about 3-5 per cent, so that way in India we are doing better.
I had got admission to a very good engineering college, when I decided to go for aviation. It was a difficult call for me and my parents as generally people do not leave a good position and get into something unknown. Everybody was dissuading us, telling my parents not to take on the financial pressure of pilot training, especially when there was no job surety at the end of it. However, my parents let me pursue my dream.
I had one opportunity to pass the clearance exam for my academy. I had secured very good marks in my 11th and 12th exams, which gave me a lot of confidence. However, when I joined the academy, I realised that there were new challenges coming from a place where I didn’t have exposure. Most of the people around me had good backgrounds from Mumbai, Delhi and a lot of them had aviation backgrounds; a lot of them had already cleared some of the exams. We were a batch starting with zero hours of flying and no aviation background. At that time I was not fluent in English conversation, though I could read and write in English, when I spoke, my language was accented and there were grammatical errors. Those were some of the challenges I had to overcome. My mother was very understanding, she told me I could return home anytime I wanted and not to worry about the fees already paid. There was a lot of comfort and support that I got, which gave me the confidence to go ahead with things. Every profession that I go for would have its own challenges and obstacles, so I might as well stay here and fight for my dream.
Was there a time when you thought of getting out of it?
I am a very determined person and never thought of going back at any point. Discussing things with my mother gave me a lot of confidence. Instead of moving back, I started to improve myself. I got myself into a process of learning, which made me better. As soon as I finished my training, I got a job with Air India. You need to have dedication towards what you want to do. It’s okay not to know, but it’s not okay not to learn.
You are the world’s youngest woman commander to fly a Boeing 777. What next from here?
This job requires a lot of responsibility and we have to be very focused on what we are doing. We have updates of manuals every six months; we have some checks to clear, both on stimulators and on the aircraft. We keep on updating ourselves and so it takes a lot to be there holding this responsibility and this position. It is a continuous effort. It is not about getting command, but being up there and being safe.
Further to this, we start training other pilots and then become check pilots, instructors, and examiners.
What is the next goal that you have set for yourself?
Like every child, I wanted to do so many things and luckily, I had a very good teacher who made me prioritise that list. First on the list was to become a pilot. I have done law and so I am also a lawyer. But there are other things that I have listed down that I am looking forward to achieve them all. I want to learn music and some forms of dance. I am looking forward to learning more and doing more things in life and so this is definitely the beginning.
Since this profession is very demanding on time, how do you manage that? Also, how do you find time for your friends and family?
All jobs have their pros and cons. The good part about my job is that I get to wear my uniform and my uniform is my pride. Secondly, I get to travel and get a lot of exposure which I didn’t have in the initial part of my life. We meet different people from different cultures, get to know about how they live. As a Captain I get a lot of respect, but along with it there are a lot of responsibilities too.
Speaking about the cons, there’s a lot of jet lag because I do long haul flights, direct flights to the US. I am awake in the middle of the night when everybody else is sleeping. Sometimes I am working at night because my departures are quite late, so I push myself to sleep in the day and be awake at night. I also have to work out so that there is good blood circulation and I remain healthy. We also have to clear our medicals every six months. I have a tendency to put on weight, so I have to be very careful about it as we have a weight limit for flight crew.
I like socialising, especially with my friends in Mumbai, I get to meet them less because of the flight patterns. I try and go home whenever I can, but I get very less time to spend with my family.
Could you tell us about some incident that has changed you as a person while you were growing up; something that has left a mark – good or bad – but has taught you a lot?
Overall what I feel and what I am today as a person is because of my parents and teachers and what they have given me. The basics will never change and if you are always connected to your roots, no matter what the situation is, you definitely can judge and analyse what you need to do. My parents have always treated me and my brother equally. That removes all the differences and so when I dare to think of becoming a pilot, I never thought that I am a girl and whether I could become a pilot or not.
My teachers have been amazing too. One of my teachers asked me, “Do you want to be where you want to be in life or do you want to be like pollen, which will go along with the wind and get placed wherever it places it?” That was really thought provoking and so I decided to be where I wanted to be. But I didn’t know how. He then said, “It is not important to know how, what is important to know where you want to be”.
What is your biggest fear?
Honestly, I have no fears. Even when it was my first time flying, I didn’t have any. As I said earlier, what I am today is the basics from my parents and my teachers and they never taught me what fear is. If I ever said that I fear something, my mom would take me out there and show me that it isn’t really anything to be scared of.
You have said that you are a social person, but are you picky and choosy about friends?
I am definitely social with most of the people, but am very picky about who my close friends are. My friends in Mumbai are my family, because I am always away from my parents.
My parents are just one call away, but they are not physically present here. We all have good days and bad days at work and we really need people to talk to. Whom you rely on and whom you are talking to, you really need to be selective about that.
What is a bad day at work for you?
Maybe a very tiring day; delays happen and happen at every workplace. You see unexpected things happening.
Have you ever faced gender discrimination at work?
As girls we all face similar challenges everywhere, it’s just that you need to be focused on, and the best way to prove yourself is to work better. Only your work will speak for you and it’s the best way to deal with it.
What is the biggest and the ultimate dream that you have?
I am a person who is always very happy and I keep learning what I want, keep having new things to do in life. I keep making new lists and so maybe I want to do more. I am very dedicated and I will put all the efforts for it to happen. You don’t really need to plan everything, but you need to have priorities for sure and keep doing what is making you happy and go for it. A lot of people may not go for it, thinking whether it will help them or not, will it work or not, but one should try it out and know that at least they have tried.
What is that magic formula for someone to chase and achieve what they dream of?
Especially in our country, we have lack of information regarding a lot of fields. While people are choosing their profession, when I speak to students who are into engineering, some of them tell me that they would rather do something else, but can’t as there is lack of information about it. Also, there is lack of passion towards what they want in life and that is because you are not prioritising things and are not clear about what you want.
When you are starting out, just list everything you want to do and find out all the information about it and then choose the one you are passionate about. Also, while choosing don’t think that you are a girl, just choose what you are passionate about and then go for it. You will not only do well, but you will love what you are doing. And this applies to not just the mainstream professions, but anything that people might like.
To Watch Full Episode Click here.