By Stacey Kotrla, Falcon 2000 Pilot
The first aviation conference I attended was in the spring of 2000. Unbeknownst to me, I had won the Corporate Career Scholarship offered by Women in Corporate Aviation that I had applied for. Liz Clark from WCA called me asking if I was planning to go to the conference since I had not registered; I told her I had plans instead for a vacation with my family that same weekend. Liz then contacted another WCA member, Katha House, to have her help with getting me to the conference. Katha spent the next two days on her cell phone calling airlines to try and get me to the conference. She was able to work some magic with them, getting me a ticket to the conference, and then on to my vacation destination. I was amazed at the efforts on my behalf from these people that I had not even met.
Although it was a short trip, I had a blast at that conference. I was introduced to the members of WCA, heard their stories, and made new friends. At the evening banquet, the first scholarship award announced was the one offered by WCA, and they called my name! I was thrilled beyond words! The scholarship allowed me to quickly complete my CFI and multi engine ratings, and get hired as a flight instructor. Without the help of WCA and their generous scholarship, it would have taken much longer to attain those accomplishments. The scholarship enabled me to improve my technical skills, qualifications, and ultimately my employment opportunities.
I instructed for about two years after receiving the scholarship, and then moved on to fly night cargo in light twins. It didn’t take long with the freight schedules to have an ample amount of flight time to get hired by a regional airline, Horizon Air. I worked for Horizon for almost five years, during which time I continued to stay in contact with my WCA friends, and kept a lookout for a good corporate job. Several opportunities were presented to me over the years, one of which grabbed my attention this past summer. After a lengthy interview process with a Fortune 20 company, I received a job offer in late October. Without my WCA friends, I probably would not have even heard of this job opportunity.
The contacts I have made are invaluable, both professionally and personally. My friends are also my mentors, offering their guidance, career experiences, and helping me in my career progression from student to corporate pilot.