Working with Emirates has brought amazing opportunities that I could never have imagined – Odigie
Magdalene Odigie is a Nigerian Economy class cabin crew, working with Emirates for over a year now. She always aspired to become a cabin crew ever since she met an Emirates cabin crew on a flight. Working with Emirates has instilled skill sets both professionally and personally, that she attributes to her training and working in a diverse environment. Magdalene enjoys researching new destinations and is always excited to try local cuisines, learn the language and be immersed in the culture. Her favourite destination is Ghana, where she spends a considerable amount of time and loves the hospitable people and food. Top on her list of favourite destinations is Dubai, which is where she currently resides. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, she speaks on her experience in the last one year as staff of Emirates.
What routes do you fly to?
I don’t fly to the United States currently but I fly everywhere else. My journey so far with Emirates has been an exciting one and one filled with amazing opportunities that I could never have imagined especially coming from Nigeria and moving to the UK and then ending up in Dubai that is such an exciting city. For me, it has been an incredible journey, filled with opportunities.
What did you study in school?
I studied fashion journalism in the UK.
At what point did you leave Nigeria for the UK?
I left Nigeria when I was 15 years old. I got the job while I was in the UK. I do come back to visit. I have two sisters in Nigeria. One lives in Lagos and the other in Abuja. So, I always come back to see my family.
Did you ever think you will be a cabin crew and at what point did you take the decision?
Being a cabin crew is something I have always dreamt of, especially when I first moved to the UK and I travelled on an airplane for the first time and I just looked at these people and I was wowed by just imagining what they did for a living. I also thought of the places they will have visited. So, when that opportunity came and I applied, I had to be patient and I am glad it was the best decision I ever made.
Are there times you have been harassed by passengers and if there has been a time like that, how has Emirates helped you manage the situation?
I, personally haven’t encountered anything to do with harassment or discrimination but Emirates offers an incredible amount of support 24 hours. They have a peer support group, which anyone within the company can seek. So, there is always that help. It is a company that always support their staff.
Do you make extra plans when you are travelling to certain destination or are there certain instructions from Emirates to guide you?
With any destination, I make plans. Emirates is very respective with people’s cultures and they always keep their crew in the know so that we are not offending anybody else’s culture but I have never been put in a position where I have to be worried about a country I am going to because there is always that safety guaranteed by Emirates.
Do you intend to continue with the job when you get married considering the demands of the job?
We still have a lot of crew who are married and they still fly. There is no interference in their personal life, in terms of difficulty keeping a balance in the home. So, I have a lot of friends who are married to crew and some who are not married to crew and they have a lot of opportunities because their spouses can get the chance to travel all around the world with them and if they work together, it is even better because both of you can get to travel together most of the time. It is so exciting.
What is the unique selling point of Emirates Airlines?
I think the unique selling point is that it is such a cosmopolitan airline. Every day I work with someone from a different culture and it gives me the opportunity to learn about where they are from. For instance, today I might work with someone from Brazil and whenever I go to Brazil, I don’t feel strange because I have gotten to meet people from that culture. It is such a multi-national company.
At the time you applied for this job, given the competitiveness of the recruitment process, did you feel that you may not make it through the process?
I didn’t feel that way because I knew what I had to offer with the company being a Nigerian as well as having that awareness because I felt when I was in the UK, I may probably be the only Nigerian applying. For me, that was my selling point. To be honest when I joined Emirates, I didn’t know how big of a multi-national company it was, so I was just going with the idea to try this out. To my surprise, they took me and I probably had all they were looking for. You have to be very patient with the whole interview process with Emirates. You have to also know that it is not just an opportunity for them to hire you but it is also you knowing what you can offer the company, just like any other job.
For people who would like to work with organisations, they look for organisations that train and retrain their staff. Does Emirates train and retrain staff? If they do, how often?
We are trained rigorously. When I joined, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The first eight weeks was training all through and it wasn’t just any kind of training. They train you on security, how to deal with hostage situation, things to know about an aircraft, amongst others. So, it is not just the pilots that know about these things. Also, you as a crew will know certain things that passengers wouldn’t know. They train you on how to deal with medical cases, so we are trained on almost everything. So, in that eight weeks, you are learning, you have exams and if you pass the exams, then you start flying. Every year, you get retrained and you have to go in for an exam. So, you are constantly learning about your job role. When you go for a flight, you have a briefing. During the briefing, they ask you questions about the aircraft. So, constantly, your mind is constantly alert which is such a good thing because it means that passengers know that they are safe because you are aware at all times.
Can you tell me some of the efforts by Emirates to ensure they have a gender balanced work place?
They have a lot of women that are pilots and I am very moved by them. As a cabin crew, if I see a woman who is a pilot, I am wowed by it because it is such a male dominated section. So, Emirates is very accommodating. I don’t think they are biased in gender equality.
How has been a crew member influenced your fashion sense?
It has given me the opportunity to go to different countries, meaning I get the opportunity to get access to fashion from all around the world. So, I can go to UK, Ghana or some other countries. You can go to the markets in these countries and get your fabrics and give them to tailors in Accra or Lagos. You sew your attire. So, the job has had a lot of impact in my fashion sense. So, it plays a lot of role in how I dress. I get nice dresses for the weather, which depends on the destination.
When you are off duty, what are the things you like to wear?
Because I have this fashion background, I love a lot of dresses. I love anything that is comfortable especially when you fly and you are walking on an aircraft, for me comfort is important, so I wear my snickers and nice oversize dress or nice pants and blouse to go with it.