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Risking a new flight plan


“How happy could so many people out there be in 12 months’ time if they just put their hand up and say, actually, I wouldn't mind having a go at this?” Sally Tindall. 

2020 upended many industries. And with people staying home to help slow the spread of COVID, the aviation industry was all but grounded. Pilots like Sally Tindall had to find alternative work to support their families.


While her former colleagues took on temporary work, Sally looked at her changing circumstances and decided a career change was better. So she assessed what transferable skills she had before job hunting.


“One of the things that pilots do, which they don't really give themselves credit for - because everyone just thinks that we strut around wearing big hats and land aeroplanes - is we assess risk,” says Sally.


“I was a safety specialist trained in human factors and safety. I looked at the finance industry with awe and wonder, really, because subject matter experts in change and change management are actually few and far between in finance. And what I did discover was I had a skillset and there seems to be a slight void.”


Just like flying a plane


Sally enjoyed using the skill set she had from aviation safety and applying it to financial services.


Looking at lockdown spending behaviour Sally could help make predictions for how customers were going to want to access their banking services – which meant the team could work ahead of problems like potential cybersecurity issues, instead of behind them.


“We were encouraged to stay at home and eat cake and drink wine,” she quips, “so what we could predict as a financial institution was we needed to make sure our processes and practises for online shopping were extraordinary. And so in being able to do that and to predict what people were going to do, we could get on the front foot.


“I think that is similar to aviation safety, where you can see trends and you can predict that passenger numbers are going to go up and people are going to want to go, for example, to the Gold Coast at Christmas time because of schoolies.”


New heights


Meanwhile, Sally has lost her enthusiasm for flight – she just wants to go higher. So as well as being an airline pilot, Sally is also an aspiring astronaut and a finalist for a chance to go into space.


She was due to go to the Mojave Desert to do survival training in July last year, just another venture delayed by COVID.


But always the optimist with an eye on the future, Sally is confident she can one day achieve her goal and head into space.


Sally in her astronaut training flight suit.


What’s next?


Back at the start of 2020 Sally never imagined this is where she’d be starting 2021. Her advice to everyone is to take a risk and have a go.


“If someone had told me a year ago I wasn't going to be a married, international airline pilot, that I would be a single mum in compliance for a fantastic financial institution, I wouldn't have believed them.”


“How happy could so many people out there be in 12 months’ time if they just put their hand up and say, actually, I wouldn't mind having a go at this?”



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