Zuks Ramasia started her career as a flight attendant at South African Airways (SAA) 27 years ago, and is now the airline’s acting chief executive officer (CEO).
Speaking to SA News, Ramasia said when she applied for the position she held a BA degree in Human Resource Development and BA Honours in English and Psychology from Rand Afrikaans University – now the University of Johannesburg.
Five years into her job as a flight attendant, Ramasia started teaching cabin crew and pilots about safety and procedure, which is crucial for the team to evacuate passengers safely from the flight in case of emergency.
A few years later, she applied and was appointed as an operations manager.
“My career took off from there. I held various senior management positions at SAA and served on various boards within the aviation industry,” she said.
“I have not missed a single step on my way up to my current position.”
Ramasia said that during this process she earned a further diploma in airline operations from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is a trade association of the world’s airlines.
She also graduated from the leadership development programme offered by the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science and a postgraduate diploma in management from Henley Business School.
Turning things around
Ramasia acknowledged that the airline is facing financial problems and assured the public that there was a plan to turn things around.
“Funding is still our biggest challenge because certain parts of our strategy have not been implemented when they were supposed to,” she said.
“My duty is to ensure that I fast track the implementation of our existing long-term turnaround strategy. This keeps me up at night.”
“We have five key pillars which are liquidity, balance sheet restructuring, revenue enhancement, cost optimisation and strategy.”
Ramaisa said that using these pillars the embattled airline could reach financial stability if we implement our long-term strategy,” Ramasia elaborated.
“We also understand that South Africans cannot afford to give SAA money every time because it is our responsibility to generate money through our own operations.
“We have an action plan on how to implement our strategy,” she said.