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By Zena HenryIt wasn’t being thick-skinned that soothed Air Services Limited (ASL) executive, pilot and conservationist Annette Arjoon-Martin when she was called ‘Buck Banana’, during her school days; it was the rich heritage of persistence inherited from her Amerindian ancestors.Annette Arjoon in front of her latest idea, the country’s only state-of –the -art fuel farm worth US$1MThat is the same persistence she gave credit to when describing her role and survival in the very prestigious and male-dominated field of aviation.The 48-year-old has been involved in aviation for over 25 years now, playing a pivotal role in the 51-year-old company her father, Yacoob Ally, started. It was not a walk-in-the-park being one of the few women involved in aviation in the mid 80s.The perception of Amerindians being ‘jungle people’ offered no assistance either, but “in a male dominated industry you had to work hard to prove yourself,” Arjoon told Kaieteur News.She spent her early days with Santa Rosa, Arawak grandmother, Rosalind Murray, who cultivatedcoffee for a living. That is where she developed a love for the outdoors and an attachment to animals.“Those years cemented my identity of first and foremost being an Amerindian and all that meant.  You learned to look out for yourself; swimming across the river to meet friends or finding a fruit tree when you were hungry.”“Looking back, the Amerindian trait of persevering through difficulty and hard times grew in me, and in later years, as a working mother in the business world,Alexis Sanchez Arsenal Jersey UK, that attitude of not giving up when problems loomed, was naturally there.”It is part of my Amerindian heritage, Annette continued. “My grandmother was poor and when there was little to eat she would take fresh pepper from the yard, rub it on cassava bread, and that was our meal. I can look back and appreciate that my grandmother hadn’t turned to begging the church for help, or stealing; by her example, she prepared me to make do with what I had.Later on, during my conservation career whether I was in the rough Atlantic Ocean at night heading for Shell Beach or in the middle of the swampy crabwood forest in the Waini I was able to cope.”After early schooling in Guyana, she went on to Codrington High; an all-girls boarding school in Barbados. Her father was instrumental in ensuring her development.“Being in that school, with the structure and discipline, I learned to focus on setting goals. It brought out my competitive spirit.” With limited airline connections between Barbados and Guyana, Annette Arjoon’s father- whose family was involved in the timber industry- purchased a Cessna 310 for work and to take his children to and from Barbados.“From that I saw, even as a student that limited airlift to and in Guyana would hamper our country’s development.”Fresh out of high school, Arjoon joined her dad’s timber business, A.  Mazaharally and Son’s; the genesis of Air Services which had one aircraft accessing remote timber concessions. “In those days, the scarcity of pilots resulted in some of them having prima donna attitudes,Wholesale Basketball Jerseys, and in order to be independent of that I went to Briko Flight School in Trinidad and obtained my Private Pilot’s Licence.”She built flying hours around timber concessions, but as fate would have it,Cheap NFL Jerseys, she grew into aviation management.When Annette entered aviation management in 1985, there were few female pilots, she said. “There were no female engineers, a few in flight operations but none in aviation management.” “As a female Manager in a male-dominated industry, I felt I had to work harder to earn the respect of the macho aviation fraternity. I had to work harder to prove myself.”Arjoon recalled at one time being involved in an important meeting with big names in the sector. “Every time I said something I was shut down. I got so angry that I slammed my hand on the desk and yelled, what do I have to do to be heard around here? That is when I was finally given an ear,” she said.Arjoon on one of the Mangrove planting exercises.Nonetheless, Annette Arjoon is most proud of overseeing the transition of ASL’s piston-engine fleet to the fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly turbine engines; the establishment of satellite operations at Mahdia, the involvement of more women in the sector and having a hinterland internship programme.Another treasure of the ASL General Manager is, “One incomplete, but massively beneficial project; the utilization of our state of the art fuel farm. Not only has it raised the standards of fuel handling, but most critically, enabling us to control our aviation fuel supply and operational cost with tangible benefits to the travelling public.“Additionally, for the first time at Ogle other aviation operators will have a choice of fuel suppliers. This is of course assuming that there are no additional costs we are expected to comply with which will make us uncompetitive.”For Arjoon, the Ogle Airport where ASL operates has changed drastically. Major players have been able to upgrade from piston engines to turbines. Five operators have their own hangars, and three have their own maintenance services.“There has also been an expansion, though somewhat limited, of aviation services such as  an engineering school and a flight school, both authorized by the Civil Aviation Authority,Wholesale China Jerseys Free Shpping, that provides personnel to meet the industry’s needs.”Ogle Airstrip consists of State land and was operated by Guysuco for decades. In 2000 Government leased the land to a group of private investors known as Ogle Airport Inc (OAI) in a public/private partnership. The partnership made Ogle Airstrip an International Airport with Airport Authority being responsible for the safety, security and operational affairs of stakeholders.A prerequisite of an international airport, Arjoon pointed out, is the establishment of an Airport Authority and an Airport Operations Manual which serve to procedurally organize the relationship between the Airport Authority and its stakeholders.Additionally, there are challenges hampering Ogle’s growth. “From a macro perspective, the public private partnership between the Government of Guyana and Ogle Airport Inc., which was premised on this public utility being developed for the benefit of the aviation industry has come a long way but can improve from the lessons learnt along the way.”“In that context,” Arjoon opined, “when there is the possibility of abuse stemming from a dominant position, or from preserving monopolies, for example,Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping, a mechanism for redress by aviation stakeholders, such as an Aviation Review Panel is crucial.”The panel,Wholesale China Jerseys, made up of a broad cross-section of respected qualified aviation stalwarts, is an essential component for monitoring and regulation of the industry in the future.“For example, when ASL is being asked by airport management to comply with new rules which are not in its operations manual and unsanctioned by the GCAA, that Panel comes in.”Arjoon prized her success, however, on her strong belief “to persevere when the truth and facts are on my side to ensure due process; to remain firm when persons whom you once held in esteem have given you every reason to lose such respect.”“In ASL where staff had code names for managers, I was pleased instead of offended when I overheard a radio operator saying ‘The Iron Lady is on her way.”“But back to my Amerindian roots, “Kai” with his selfless action to serve and save his Patamona people is my example of the level of service and action I would take in the interest of the greater good!”
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