Women in Aviation: Anita Gradwohl, F/LIST

Women in Aviation: Anita Gradwohl, F/LIST

Aircraft Interior Expo’s Women in Aviation series shines a spotlight on industry thought-leaders and experts, with exclusive insights on both of the state of the market and navigating in the industry.

We sat down with Anita Gradwohl, Group Director for Customer Relations & Sales within the New Business Unit for Aviation at F/LIST.

About Anita Gradwohl

Anita Gradwohl is the current Group Director for Customer Relations & Sales within the New Business Unit for Aviation at F/LIST.

The Austrian-headquartered company is a worldwide provider of exclusive interiors for business jets, yachts and residences and engages around 900 employees at eight locations across Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. Passion, reliability, and a visionary spirit determine every step of this Austrian family-run business.

Anita’s Professional Journey:

How long have you worked in the aviation industry?

“My aviation career started 18 years ago in 2005, as a dispatcher for Diamond Aircraft, an Austrian general aviation aircraft manufacturer. In 2006, I was promoted to Area Sales Manager for EMEA, Asia Pacific, overseeing fleet customers and Diamond dealers in the Asia Pacific Region. In 2011 F/LIST employed me to develop their aviation sector.

Over the last 12 years, I have supported their growing success in the aviation industry and was consequently promoted to the position of Group Director of Customer Relations & Sales within the New Business Unit focusing on Aviation.”

“Global accessibility is, in my opinion, the greatest development in aviation.”

Anita Gradwohl

How did you get into the industry?

“It’s actually a very simple story! In 2005, a very close cousin of mine called me to say that there was a position open at Diamond Aircraft that he thought I might find interesting. At the time, I had not really considered aviation as a career possibility, but I thought to myself, ‘Why not? Sounds interesting.’ Almost 18 years later, I’m still in the industry!”

What is it about working in the aviation industry that appeals to you?

“I had always dreamed of a job that allowed me to see the world, to travel, and to meet new and exciting people. And fortunately for me, the aviation industry has given me the opportunity to live that dream and to love what I do! I would say that’s the most appealing part.”

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Women in Aviation:

As a woman, how do you find working in such a male-dominated industry?

“In my personal experience, when you work with a good team, there is little to no attention paid to gender. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by fantastic team members and have not faced problems working in a male-dominated industry.

That being said, I will always advocate for diversity – I always cheer internally when I meet a woman working in aviation, and always love to connect with like-minded colleagues.”

As a female senior leader, why do you think it’s important for companies to address the gender gap?

It’s paramount for companies to address the gender gap because diversity is the key to success. Studies have shown that mixed management teams operate more efficiently than the ones that are composed of a gender majority. I firmly believe in the importance of diversity of thought – making the most of  all team members have to offer.”

“All of us in the sector need to join forces in order to create a more sustainable future for aviation.”

Anita Gradwohl

What do you believe has been the key to your success?

“My strong character has been key. I define myself as a very committed, disciplined, persistent, and tenacious person, and believe that  pursuing what you believe is right, regardless of the difficulties you might encounter, will lead to achievement. Until now, my character has proven invaluable in paving the road to success in my aviation career.”

What characteristics do you believe women need to survive in the aviation industry? 

“In line with my previous answer, as a woman it’s very important to have a strong character to thrive in such an industry. Fight for what you believe is right – in a professional and assertive manner – but have a  good sense of humour to help smooth the way.”

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle to women succeeding in the workplace?

“I can only speak about the situation in Austria, but prejudice is often the greatest obstacle preventing women from succeeding in the workplace. Unfortunately, traditional gender roles are still dominant, and some employers can view aspiring female candidates and employees as being a ‘pregnancy and family risk‘. This creates a discrepancy in the gender mix in the workplace.

A step in the right direction would be making working hours and locations more flexible to help mothers to stay in the workforce. When companies refuse to accommodate, they often tend to go part-time, which can limit future  management and leadership opportunities.”

Anita Gradwohl, Group Director for Customer Relations & Sales – New Business Unit for Aviation, F/LIST.

What would you say has been your career highlight to date?

Wow, that’s a tough question! Honestly, it is hard to think of one in particular. My aviation career has been a highlight in itself. I am truly grateful for all the incredible experiences and opportunities I have had, the places I have visited on this incredible planet, and the phenomenal people I have met along the way!”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Be yourself. Work hard and play hard. Always be kind and respectful.

What advice would you give to female professionals interested in a career in aviation?

“Just do it! And once you start, don’t stop; commit to it. It’s important to work with a strong sense of discipline, perseverance, and assertiveness. Believe in yourself and what you’re capable of doing.

If you want to succeed in aviation, you cannot be afraid to tenaciously pursue what you believe is right. Most importantly, love what you do and don’t forget to have fun too, that makes it much more enjoyable for everybody.”

The Future of the Industry:

What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the aviation industry?

“There are obviously several major challenges currently impacting the aviation industry, such as the shortage of professional personnel, global supply chain issues, cyberattacks, and of course, the topic of sustainability. When discussing sustainability, the industry is often in the spotlight, so all of us in the sector need to join forces in order to create a more sustainable future for aviation. ” 

What do you believe has been the biggest development in air travel over the past 25 years?

“Global accessibility is, in my opinion, the greatest development in aviation. Flying is no longer a privilege reserved for the elite but is accessible to many. Simultaneously, this contemporary age of aviation has ushered in a new era of travel connecting communities from across the globe. Looking to the future, we must find ways to do this more sustainably.” 

If you could change one thing in the aviation industry, what would it be?

“I want to be able to travel faster from one place to another, not to have to spend hours upon hours sat in an aircraft on a long-haul flight. If there are no alternatives, I want to be able to do so in the utmost comfort, surrounded by the latest innovations. Unfortunately, due to stringent regulations and the high costs involved in certification, our industry tends to fall behind other sectors in these aspects.

These are the types of challenges F/LIST is currently addressing as we strive to deliver aircraft cabins equipped with the latest innovations. F/LIST has chosen to redefine and evolve never before seen options; we are not changing the game; we are creating a whole new one. We are passionate, determined, and driven by the desire to always lead the industry and evolve its future.”

“Be yourself. Work hard and play hard. Always be kind and respectful.

Anita Gradwohl

Who has been your biggest advocate/mentor in the workplace, and why?

“My bosses have always been my greatest advocates and mentors. If they had not recognized my drive, my dedication, and my willingness to continuously improve myself, and given me the resources to do so, I would not be where I am today.

They are, in large part, responsible for my career evolution. I thank them and hope I can replicate this support to others in the future.”

Anita is just one of the many women in aviation pioneering the latest innovations, technologies and products.

Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) is the world’s leading cabin interiors event where airlines and the supply chain to meet and has been for over 20 years. AIX plays host to the latest innovations, technologies and products for the cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and passenger comfort industries.

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