My internship at the ASPC-Rwanda: Annet Mbabazi

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From supply chain management to quality assurance in aviation

Curiosity resulted in me pursuing a career in quality assurance within the aviation industry. I work as a quality assurance intern and assist the AviAssist Foundation in developing a corporate quality manual. I am working with the Foundation’s aviation safety and quality experts to make that help achieve that impressive milestone. The position means I gain experience and real-world skills in aviation, as well as a valuable reference. My knowledge of logistics comes from my studies in Procurement, logistics and supply chain management. Air transport is an important part of particularly international logistics. I am based at Africa’s first AviAssist Safety Promotion Centre–Rwanda. The centre is a regional aviation safety promotion centre and is housed in the University of Rwanda at the School of Engineering.

My journey to quality management 

I had never thought of working in the aviation industry. I was hoping to be a good professional in the procurement and logistics industry in Rwanda. Assisting people with logistical issues and materials satisfies me. I had to pursue business-related studies in high school to be able to work in the procurement and logistics industry. However, I wasn't sure of which combination of subjects to study in high school due to a lack of mentorship and guidance. A student selects a path to take after passing the national ordinary level exams. You can choose either between a science, technical or a business-related combination in the Rwandan education system. Unfortunately, I was admitted into natural science studies – Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology. I studied this combination for a while because it was the only choice I had but it wasn’t my preference. I had to change it as it wouldn’t lead me to my career of choice. I was fortunate enough to find a school that teaches a combination of subjects that would give me an option to study business-related studies at university. That combination was History, Economics and Geography. This was an important step for me in working towards becoming an expert in the procurement and logistics industry in Rwanda.

Safety & quality plus manual

I was keen to study Procurement and Logistics at the university. I once asked my history teacher, “Which specialization that I can do at University do you think is the best and unique?” This question came out of my character of liking to always take a unique and challenging path.  I wanted to find out if procurement and logistics would really be as interesting a field of study and work as I believed it would be. The teacher went on discussing all sorts of specializations until he got to procurement and logistics – a specialization I fell in love with. He explained that the School of Business and Economics was running the procurement, logistic, and supply chain management program. The School of Business and Economics later became the University of Rwanda—College of Business and Economics. Fortunately for me, I passed the national high school exams and was admitted into the program. I was over the moon as I was going to pursue my dream career.

I seek opportunities for continuous growth and development as a young professional in my field. I took different pieces of training and internships, for example, in the Rwanda Ministry of Sports and Culture. My dedication and lessons learned over the years helped me to make it through the AviAssist recruitment process for the position of quality assurance intern. The recruitment was organized in the collaboration of the University of College of Business and Economics. I was extremely excited to be offered the position. I have been exploring critical areas of the aviation industry that make it a reliable industry. Aviation safety and quality assurance are crucial parts of that reliability. I’ve been enjoying every minute I spent with my team.

What a typical day looks like?

 I’ve learnt that there is no routine. But some common activities stand out. I start the evening before my working day by looking at the assignments, reports, or any outstanding tasks I might have had on the previous day in the office. I have a brief meeting with my supervisor Felicien Izaturwanaho, the Coordinator at the AviAssist Safety Promotion Centre each morning. Then I’ll check my email and update my to-do list based on the project at hand. Sometimes, I meet Idi Maswaure, Quality Technical Adviser at RwandAir. We meet face to face or virtually to discuss my work and for coaching. I meet Marily Heyster, Senior Program Manager at the AviAssist Foundation, digitally for coaching too.

I perform other administrative tasks next to my work on quality assurance. I assisted the Foundation with the organization of the 2021 online Safety in African Aviation Conference. The conference discussed several hot topics, including mental health in aviation and crisis management, for instance. I took care of analysing and processing feedback of the conference participants as part of doing quality management in practice.

ASPC + Annet at ASPC banner

What is the most exciting/challenging part of the role?

The aviation industry was a completely new field for me to work in when I joined the AviAssist Foundation. It was a challenge to get familiar with the terminologies, manuals, and reporting as fast as possible to deliver as desired. However, I was able to come around so fast and become the proud aviator that I feel I am today. I aim to continue pursuing my career in aviation management and logistics. That way I can expand my horizons.

My tip for future aviation professionals? Pursue your dreams consistently

We all have great aspirations and dreams at a young age. Dreams naturally surface through imagination and creativity. Many of us divert away from those aspirations due to different circumstances as we grow. The bridge between your aspirations and the right choice is career guidance, which many young people lack. This, unfortunately, leads to many youngsters graduating from higher academic institutions without knowing what they are going to do upon completion of their studies.

I really enjoyed reading the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. He says it is important to “begin with the end in mind and put first things first”. If you are a fresh graduate or about to graduate, I advise you to take time and formulate a clear vision of whom you want to be in the next five years to come and then write goals to achieve that vision. Most importantly, reach out to the professionals in that career, seek their advice and, above all, be consistent and disciplined in sticking to that vision.

To young ones still in high school about to join university, this is the right time to set your destiny. Have a clear picture of whom you aspire to be in five years after university. Seek guidance on which specialization fits your dreams. If you can’t get enough guidance from people around you, make good use of the internet connectivity that our generation is blessed to have. Nowadays, everything is on the internet, so if you use it effectively, you can get career guidance from many more sources than you could find in any single person or a few persons.

One resource to start learning about aviation safety is the AviAssist Foundation aviation club playlist on Youtube. Click here for that playlist

By Annet Mbabazi