Helping to shape an airline’s future
Published: 19 Feb 2018
As head of administration and human resources at Small Planet Airlines, Laura Mieceliene is seeking to draw on all her cabin crew experience to help employees strike a balance between work and home life.
Have you always been interested in aviation?
Yes. I dreamt about being cabin crew from a very young age. It’s not surprising, as my father was a commercial airline pilot. I didn’t want to be a pilot – in the early 1990s, it was a male-dominated profession and, even today, only 3% of the world’s pilots are female. The number is growing but too slowly. We have seven female pilots at Small Planet Airlines, three of whom are captains, which reflects the industry norm.
Tell us about your career
I attended a cabin crew training course during my final year of high school and graduated both at the same time. I was only 17, so I had to wait four months until I turned 18 to start working. My first job was with Lithuanian Airlines. I worked there for nine years, fell in love with my colleague, got married and had two children. Then I was offered a senior cabin crew position for another airline before becoming a supervisor and then taking a role of chief cabin crew. After the birth of my third child, I left the aviation world. I really missed it, so when I heard four years later that Small Planet Airlines was looking to fill the post of chief cabin crew, I jumped at the opportunity and got the job. I am now head of administration and human resources, which has been both a fresh challenge and a great challenge.
What have been the highlights?
Working as cabin crew was invaluable for my personal development. It helped me develop empathy and strengthen my teamwork and leadership skills. Throughout my career, I have broadened my understanding of the commercial aviation industry.
What are your biggest challenges?
I only have one – striking a healthy work-life balance. Working in an office is completely different to working on an aircraft. Even after the most exhausting flights you can close the doors and forget everything. When you close the office doors, the work continues, at least in your head. But at least I can spend weekends and evenings with my family.
What does your current job entail?
I have many responsibilities and duties, but the most important is ensuring Small Planet Airlines is adequately staffed. We look for people who understand the company’s culture and business strategy. We hire people who are eager, creative, professional, full of ideas and love what they do. The airline is constantly growing – we plan to expand our staff from 1,000 at the end of 2017 to 1,400 this year. Three-quarters of employees are crew members and only a quarter administration staff. Next year, crew numbers will increase by 40% – including 100 pilots – and administration staff by 20%. This is huge growth in just one year. The airline’s expansion depends on our ability to hire the necessary number of crews, and, as everybody knows, there is a shortage of pilots across the industry. To address this challenge, we have adopted a number of measures: starting the recruitment process early; creating a talent programme to attract suitable internal candidates; and forging closer ties with flight training academies, whereby we guarantee jobs for qualified pilots.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Small Planet Airlines is renowned for its strong values and culture, and I relish the opportunity to participate in shaping its future. I love working and engaging with people, as well as coming up with new ideas that promote the carrier as a dream employer. By this we mean a high-involvement environment where it is fun to work; people have the opportunity to grow professionally, and freedom is valued more than control. The company’s next challenge is to improve the work-life balance for employees, and we are aiming to do that by building leadership skills within our management team and improving and optimising processes.
The lack of time. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done.