Monday, June 13, 2011

Susan Mashibe - Young Tanzanian Executive

Map of Tanzania
Ms. Mashibe grew up in the small town of Kigoma on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, the second largest fresh water lake and the second deepest lake in the world. Susan is the first African woman to be certified as a pilot and engine engineer. She is the founder and executive director of TanJet, an international Fixed Base operations service and the first of its kind in Tanzania. TanJet has transformed the way business aviation operates in Eastern Africa, thanks to Susan Mashibe's vision for the region and her passion of aircrafts.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ms. Mashibe recounted how her passion for aircrafts developed. This love for planes came from a place of desperation when she watched her parents leave on a plane to Dar-es-Salaam leaving her under the care of her grandmother. This was a traumatizing moment for Susan, who was four years at the time. She was deeply hurt but did not cry. As the plane took off all she could think about was, "If I could fly that airplane, they couldn't leave me behind again".

Susan Mashibe

Susan completed her flying school studies at Western Michigan University. Her goal was to become a triple 7 pilot - Captain, for Delta Airlines. However, the events of September 11, 2001 changed the course of her life when she found that she could not get a job as a non-US citizen in an industry where the demand exceeded supply. She returned to her home country, Tanzania and decided to redefine herself. She was over qualified for any aviation job in Tanzania yet found an untapped market within the industry. She began her own company, applying her specialized skills as an aircraft engineer for corporate jets.

In May 2011, Susan joined a small group of young executives for a mentoring program sponsored by Fortune 500 and the State Department. Susan was paired with Marissa Mayer, VP of Product Management for Google and the company's first female engineer. Together (TanJet and Google) they hope to digitally map Tanzania businesses so as to get them online.

Click to see the interview with Charlie Rose

It is fantastic to see what Tanzanian women can achieve today whether in politics, business or education. They inspire younger women who have big dreams and are role models for future women leaders. It would be great to see these successful women motivate and assist women and youth in Africa to pursue education to the highest levels and fulfill their visions of the future.

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