An Aircraft Maintenance Engineer is often assumed to be male. Slowly, however, the number of women is increasing, not only in the United States and the UK, but also in the Caribbean. LIAT’s first female aircraft maintenance engineer, Tesia Alexander, is leading the way for other women who want to explore this field. In 2009 Tesia became the first female aircraft engineer appointed by Liat, in its 53 years of operation. Tesia is based Antigua and credits her success to hard work, will power, and a passion for the profession.
Although this Guyanese National was fascinated with airplanes from a tender age, it was not until high school that her dream became a reality. After completing her CXCs, she was still not sure about what she wanted to do, because she also had some interest in the medical field. “I wanted a career where I didn’t have to compete for jobs, and I know engineering was something in high demand,” Tesia said. Medicine was struck off the list after an attachment at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), where she was given the chance to see what the profession entailed. “I would begin to feel really weak when I see some of the procedures, so that’s when I decided that it was not for me,” she said.
One day she came across an advertisement in a Guyana daily newspapers from the Art Williams and Harry Wendt Aeronautical School. “So, my mom and I decided to check it out,” she said. “We spoke to the principal and he suggested that I take the aptitude test and I passed. From then I decided that was what I wanted to do.” Tesia said she was not sure how the men at the school were going to treat her, but she fit in quite well and even got herself a scholarship to complete her studies. The three years spent at were very challenging, since there were certain subjects, including physics, which she did not like. While studying, she was employed at Air Services Limited (ASL) in Guyana part time.
After graduating from the Aeronautical Engineering School in 2003, she continued working at ASL.In 2005, Tesia decided to apply to Caribbean Star Airlines. She spent two years there until it went out of business. In 2007 she joined the team at LIAT. “My mother was behind me 100 percent. I always had her support,” she added. One of the challenges in her career is gaining trust from people who think that because she is a woman, she is not capable of fixing an airplane.
For her part, Tesia encourages other females who are contemplating a career in Engineering not to be afraid to step up to the challenge. “I would encourage them to join the engineering field as it has been a very rewarding and satisfying experience for me,” Tesia said. “In my opinion the glass ceiling was broken way back in 1963 when the first woman went into space, so now it is just a matter of women dreaming dreams and realizing them.” She noted that while working in a male dominated environment can be quite challenging at times, for the most part it has been quite exciting and dynamic.
Congratulations Tesia on your outstanding accomplishments! You Rock!.