A veteran with over 22 years’ experience in different aspects of the aviation business, Mamashela considers it a privilege to be an entrepreneur in an industry she loves.

“Aviation is my calling. I joined SAA in 1995, when the country was undergoing transformation and I was the airline’s first black Manager of Operations. My responsibilities included managing flight operations, crews, aircraft slots and the distribution of workloads. I’m a passionate administrator and derive great joy from my career,” explains Mamashela, who owns 25% of the billion-dollar Global Aviation entity.

Located at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, the organisation provides turnkey solutions such as leasing aircraft and providing crews and ticketing, as well as training pilots and cabin staff for airlines wanting their own employees. Global Aviation operates a fleet of eight Airbus A320 and A340 aircraft, with offices in Miami, USA, as well. It also holds an EASA AOC certification, which allows it to operate within EU territories.

Responsible for stakeholder relationships, Mamashela engages governments and corporations to bring business and revenue to the company. The company’s clients include the United Nations, Juba, Ivory Coast, Djibouti and supply airlines in Baghdad, Iraq, Haiti and Turkey, among other countries.

Notwithstanding her extensive experience in all aspects of aviation, Mamashela says that being a black woman in a male-dominated industry comes with a myriad of challenges.

“I’m the only woman shareholder in the company. My leverage is that I understand the business well and I’ve had to inform colleagues in the boardroom that I know what I’m talking about and have built a successful brand in the industry,” she says.

“Aviation is an intensive, highly regulated, dollar-based cash business. Just to get insurance, you need millions of dollars,” she says. “Very few black people own aircrafts, although there are black brokers who lease them. The challenge of getting into the industry as an owner – especially for women – is lack of capital investment. There’s still quite a lot of resistance to females transforming the aviation space. To address this, we need the likes of the National Empowerment Fund to set aside funds and open the space for more women to become owners.”

When she’s not jet-setting in pursuit of business, Mamashela’s a world traveller who never tires of being in an aircraft and travelling to new destinations.

“Aviation isn’t a job – it’s a lifestyle. You work hard and also play expensive games. I’m very fortunate to be married to a trailblazer in the industry, who understands the challenges I face,” she adds.