Responsible for Air BP’s largest airport operation in Brazil, at São Paulo-Guarulhos, Eliana Mendes leads a team of 30 employees. And with the Rio Olympic Games taking place this summer, challenges abound.
How did you get into aviation and aviation fuelling?
I began my career with a major Brazilian airline and worked for it for almost 20 years. When I spotted an opening in aviation fuelling, I saw it as a chance to widen my knowledge of the aviation market and pursued it. I joined Air BP in February 2012, just when the company was increasing its presence in Brazil.
What are your main duties on a day-to-day basis?
I am responsible for Air BP’s largest airport operation in Brazil and lead a team of 30. I ensure we have a safe, compliant operation both on the apron, and at the depot. I also represent Air BP on all the airport’s safety, security and operational committees.
I manage the budget, and the stock levels of Jet A1 fuel, as well as being the health, safety, security, environment and primary HR point of contact for my team.
I am in constant contact with our customers on the apron during fuelling operations, and at the monthly meetings with them, where we discuss operational issues and procedures. These meetings allow us to gauge customers’ needs. We always aim to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are from international and regional airlines, as well as general aviation. We interact directly with the airlines’ ground staff, pilots and aircraft owners. We now work with more than 70% of the international airlines operating at São Paulo-Guarulhos international airport and a great deal of this is due to the fact we are a genuinely global company with a great understanding of our locations.
“We gained valuable experience during the 2014 World Cup that will help us take on this year’s Olympics”
How did you cope with the 2014 football World Cup and what lessons from it will you apply to the Olympics?
During the World Cup we set up a special shift system to ensure our resources were allocated properly. We also stayed in close contact with our customers and the airport authority.
Throughout the tournament, I received a lot of support from Air BP Brazil, and internationally, to ensure everything ran smoothly. We introduced several new systems to ensure customers were served efficiently at such a busy time.
We gained valuable experience which will help us take on this year’s Olympics, especially regarding security and safety. Close liaison with customers, the airport authority and Air BP head office will enable us to gauge demand and provide the right level of service.
What do you think will be the biggest changes in fuel supply in your region over the next five to 10 years?
We recently had to increase the capacity of the fuel farm to meet demand. Another change will be our ability to have more than one supply source so we can keep our product price competitive.
What would you say to any woman thinking of getting into aviation and what do you think would encourage them into the sector?
I am passionate about working in aviation. I believe women can bring different qualities and ways of working to this sector. In our company we work in a prejudice-free environment with open opportunities for all.
I think more women would be encouraged if they knew more about the aviation market and could see how they can progress.
Examples like mine show that with the right competencies and skills we can succeed in any area. The main challenge in my role is managing a big team, gaining their respect and obtaining the best results, which is the same for men as it is for women.
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