The first time Charlie stepped onboard an aircraft she was only five years old. It was a short flight, the first of many trips that led the avid traveller to become fascinated with the hospitality sector.
A curious mind and sense of adventure has Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM) alumna Charlie Chan taking to the skies with Cathay Pacific Airways.
As a student at HIM, she was intrigued by the business of running a hotel, an inquisitive quality that would later steer her towards becoming a pilot.
To a lot of travellers including myself, a nice hotel room is actually a home away from home.
Although she is no longer working in the hospitality industry, she stresses how invaluable her internships and exposure to different countries and cultures were.
Despite initial scepticism from her family about being a woman in aviation, Charlie was committed to succeeding. After recently completing 13 months of training in Adelaide, Australia, she will soon be working in the cockpit for the first time. As a Second Officer, she will operate on long haul flights as a cruise relief pilot, and naturally, she is ecstatic about it.
The world is your oyster! Being a pilot does take a lot of hard work, but everything pays off in the end when you get to be in control of an aircraft that you love.
How did you first learn about Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM)?
Amongst all the hotel schools in Switzerland, HIM’s programs caught my attention. I understand that hotels are service-oriented but after all a hotel is still a business to run, especially when there are so many amazing hotel brands out there to compete with. To climb the management ladder, I think it is important to be equipped with a business mindset from early on.
How did you transition from HIM to becoming a pilot? Was it something that you realised you wanted to do during your studies?
After finishing my second year in HIM, I decided to try something not hotel-related. I took up a job as a passenger services officer at the Hong Kong International Airport. While I was watching planes take off and land, I was very curious as to how planes worked and how they took flight, even though they looked so heavy. I started looking into the basic principles of flight and I got hooked. I also noticed that Cathay’s cadet pilot program offers fully funded flight training. From then on I started my preparation on getting into the program with full thrust.
How has your hospitality training prepared you for the aviation industry and the requirements for such an exciting role?
I really appreciate the opportunities offered by the hospitality industry for me to get in touch with people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Similarly, the aviation industry is very international.
On every flight, you will work with crew members from all around the world and multi-crew cooperation is essential in a cockpit because airline pilots never fly alone. My study abroad experience has exposed me to a multicultural working environment and therefore I feel pretty comfortable with it.