Iran’s First Woman Airport Chief Talks of Her Job’s Ups & Downs

Iran’s First Woman Airport Manager Talks of Her Job’s Ups & Downs (3)

It’s been a few months that an Iranian woman named Parvaneh Sohrabi has been appointed as the first female airport manager in Iran and in the Middle East.

Before being appointed as the Abadan Airport Manager, Sohrabi was an employee full of hopes and motivations, and of course, a passion for proving women’s competencies in their careers.

She is now not only the first female airport manager in Iran, but as she herself puts it, the first female executive in the Mideast.

Here are excerpts of Sohrabi’s remarks in a recent interview with Shahrvand newspaper:

I started my job at the airport in 2004. I had different responsibilities. For example, I was data manager for a while and also in charge of IT and education centre. I was the head of the General Department for six years and then became the Deputy Director General of the Ahwaz Airport.

From my early days in this job, I found out that the chart is completely patriarchal. In the organisation, all managers were men, and we had no such thing as female executives. It became a question to me why women were not in managerial positions. That motivated me to move purposefully. I continued my education and at the same time did my duties. I really wanted to take up the post someday. I wanted to prove that women can work hard. I progressed step by step. During my time as a deputy, I slept about 3 to 4 hours a day, while the chores were also part of my personal life. As much as I could, I tried to accomplish the mission of women.

Of course there were many obstacles. Many gentlemen still believe that women should not be appointed as airport managers, because they are not capable of managing the crisis. I think it’s still too early to respond to those who are opposed to women’s managerial posts. Time will tell everything. However, I hope we will never see a crisis in the country.

Since my appointment to this post, people’s feedback has been great. After I was selected as the manager of Abadan Airport, the men of Khuzestan Arab tribes came to the airport to congratulate me. It was really interesting to me. It’s been two months and people are still coming to see me and congratulate me.

Of course my work is very sensitive and full of crises, and some believe that women are not suitable for crisis management but it is not true. For example, a few days ago, there was an accident where we had to transport 70 injured people from Abadan Airport to Shiraz Airport. I was on the runway for eight hours to get all the injured and their companions on board. The situation was very terrible, but I didn’t even let one of their companions get stranded. Up until the last moment when the plane was ready to fly I was with the injured and tried to calm them down. This is not the job of the airport manager, but every manager has his or her own approach, and ultimately the type of management and capabilities are important.

I think you have to have emotional intelligence and you can’t be an ordinary person. You have to be ready to take risks as well; something which is partly intrinsic. I love risk taking and excitement. So I went after it and gave it a try.

The airport is not an ordinary place and in such circumstances my appointment was a risk. So this is a remarkable event in Iran and the Middle East. So far, we haven’t had a female manager in any airport in the Middle East. I believe in trusting the youths. My plan for the future is to educate young executives and support them.

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