Video: 2024 NGPA Winter Warm-Up Recap

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When a company has grown as fast as Envoy has, it becomes increasingly important to draw in the best talent from all walks of life. For those who work at Envoy, diversity of backgrounds and thought, as well as a welcoming atmosphere, is what keeps them here.

To accomplish our goal of fostering a Culture of Respect, Envoy sponsors elite organizations such as the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA), Women in Aviation International (WAI), the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), and more. At the NGPA Winter Warm-Up Expo & Conference held last month in Palm Springs, Calif., the Envoy team had the opportunity to engage with students and aviation professionals to continue this mission.

“As authentic as their employees.”

Zoe Stewart, 19, University of Auburn Aviation Student.

Zoe Stewart, 19, University of Auburn Aviation Student.

When Auburn University aviation student Zoe Stewart was 13 years old, she joined her Air Force pilot dad on the flight deck of an aerobatic jet and between dives and barrel rolls, she had an epiphany. The pilot of the aircraft looked at Zoe impressed and said, “wow, you didn’t throw up.”

“That was my lightbulb moment,” said Zoe, now 19 years old. “From then on, I knew I wanted to become a pilot.”

However, Zoe looks at the aviation industry through a different lens than most and has high expectations for airlines.

“I’d like to see airline flight decks welcome more expression from pilots, while still treating them as professionals,” Zoe said. “Airlines can change their policies to be more inclusive, and people can change, too.”

Zoe at the NGPA Winter Warm-Up Gala.

Zoe at the NGPA Winter Warm-Up Gala.

When she arrived at Auburn University, Zoe saw a need for change there as well. Before she attended, there wasn’t an NGPA chapter at the school, so Zoe filled that need.

“I felt that someone needed to stand up and start the chapter,” she said. “As President of the chapter, I wanted to use the experience to learn how to be a leader while respecting the opinions of others without alienating them.”

Zoe, as much as she’s drawn to working for an airline, also wants to own a Part 135 private-jet business. Her “empire” as she calls it would cater to musicians looking for flights from a company that is as creative as they are.

“I believe there’s an avenue for a queer-owned luxury air service that embraces tattoos and piercings and serves musicians looking for extravagant getaways,” Zoe said. “In general, I believe companies should be as authentic as their employees.”

“No limit to inclusion.”

Akshat Tyagi, 25, Envoy First Officer.

Akshat Tyagi, 25, Envoy First Officer.

As a former Cadet and current Envoy First Officer, Akshat “Ash” Tyagi, 25, has firsthand experience with Envoy’s mission to progress toward more inclusivity.

“Since I joined Envoy in 2019, I’ve seen a lot of change that has kept us moving forward,” said Ash. “Not only are we growing our fleet and locations, but we’re seeing more and more diversity, especially with more women joining the flight deck. There’s always room for more – there’s no limit to inclusion.”

Ash became interested in joining the NGPA after attending events with his boyfriend who was a member. This opened Ash’s eyes to the benefits of flourishing within the aviation community and drew him to pitch in as a pilot recruiter for Envoy.

Akshat at the Envoy booth in the NGPA Expo exhibit hall.

Akshat at the Envoy booth in the NGPA Expo exhibit hall.

“As a recruiter I help connect people to the industry,” Ash said. “I enjoy meeting new people and help broaden their perception of what jobs are available in aviation.”

Any chance he gets, Ash loves to talk up the Envoy Cadet Program to student pilots because he believes it’s the best option for getting into the commercial aviation space. From his experience, Ash has seen how the personal connections made with recruiters throughout the flight training process plays a crucial role in learning how to be a pilot.

“Sure, the perks of joining Envoy as a Cadet are great, but what really sold me was the careful involvement from recruiters who I built trust with over the years,” Ash said. “Plus, the relationship we have with American Airlines is so streamlined, you feel at home with either company.”

Part of what makes operations between Envoy and mainline American so seamless is their focus on safety, and Ash feels like diversity plays a role there as well.

“When you open yourself to other points of view and realize that safety culture encompasses everybody, you’re able to place safety as the number-one priority,” Ash said. “The more inclusive and diverse we are as a whole, the safer we are for everyone on a daily basis.”

“Different perspectives can help solve different problems.”

Chiharu Shuai, 20, University of Omaha Aviation student.

Chiharu Shuai, 20, University of Omaha Aviation student.

Chiharu Shuai, 20, currently holds a lot of titles at the University of Omaha: NGPA Chapter Treasurer, WAI Chapter Treasurer, and President/Founder of the Professional Asian Pilots Association (PAPA) Chapter. However, none have been as lucrative as her new title of Envoy Advanced Flight Training Scholarship Winner, which is worth ten thousand dollars.

“Winning this scholarship just shows me that I need to keep doing what I’m doing,” Chiharu said. “I’m really excited for the opportunity to focus on my flight training knowing I have some of the cost covered.”

Currently, Chiharu serves her local airport as a customer service agent where she has learned more about the ground side of airline operations. In turn, it’s taught her a lot about the benefits of having differing viewpoints on a team.

“Of course, similarities between colleagues can be harmonious,” said Chiharu. “But you need different perspectives if you want to solve different problems.”

Chiharu accepting the Envoy Advanced Flight Training Scholarship at the NGPA Gala.

Chiharu accepting the Envoy Advanced Flight Training Scholarship at the NGPA Gala.

Eventually, Chiharu wants to become an Envoy pilot, but it wasn’t always that cut and dry. During high school, when she was choosing majors based on her interest in science and math, she stumbled upon an aviation degree and admittedly never thought that was an option for her.

“I had never given any thought to becoming a pilot,” said Chiharu. “Now, I’m enjoying my time in flight training and look forward to becoming a flight instructor because I want to help others succeed just like I did.”

When she begins teaching, Chiharu envisions herself being open and welcoming for her students. She also looks for those same qualities in an airline.

“I want to work for an airline that is invested in their employees,” Chiharu said. “I think productivity would increase because their input is being heard, and they feel involved and engaged with their work.”

With continued growth on the horizon for Envoy, the perspectives and viewpoints of people like Chiharu, Ash and Zoe become invaluable to our company’s future success. Lessons learned from events like the NGPA Winter Warm-Up, or the upcoming WAI Conference, will ensure Envoy is persistent in creating a culture based on respect, safety and community.

Click here to view more photos for the 2024 NGPA Winter Warm-up.

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