Ugomma Esther Aturocha: Nigerian College of Aviation 1 of Only 4 Female Aircraft Maintenance Engineers On Career, Purpose and Work-Life Balance for the Woman

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I first saw Ms. Ugomma at the Chapel of Abundant Life at the Nigerian College of Aviation, Zaria. She was wearing dark blue work overalls, indicating she had come straight from work to church and was supervising the collection of offerings. Being the writer that I am, I was particularly struck by her good use of English and so was prompted to ask who she was. The reply I got was shocking!


“Oh, that’s one of  the college’s four  female engineers!” my friend replied. “I would love for you to interview her. She’s an inspiration to every one of us here.”


Are you “kidney me?” It was a great opportunity for me, I almost said “Hallelujah somebody! Anybody! There goes a woman who is worth crushing on every Wednesday!” Jeez! She deserves some accolades people! Her list of certifications is enough motivation for every day of the week, she is so beautiful…I am tempted to sing Flavour’s “Have you seen my beautiful baby…?”


Ladies and Gentlemen, this week meet engineer, business woman, A-Rated Inspiration to us all and Nigerian College of Aviation  female engineer, Ms. Esther Ugomma A. as she takes us on a flight further and beyond our limits…who told you the sky was your limit? Nobody ever collided with the sky… 


Thank you so much for this opportunity. I watched an interview of yours on YouTube last year and I was truly amazed. So to start my interview, how did you end up as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer?


  • Document Beginnings!


My Name is Esther and currently I work as an Aircraft Engineer with the Flight Maintenance Dept., Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria. I became an Aircraft Engineer via God’s intent and help. The boldness to say these things the way they are comes with time, especially as clarity of purpose unfolds. I can now boldly say, God wanted me to be in NCAT, for a more intentional goal ‘to know Him’ and He made the way. I guess Aviation was “the bait” for me. I have always had strange fascinations about aircrafts in the sky and at one time had told a neighbour I would be an Aeronautic Engineer, while still in secondary school.

However, I did not even pursue it yet God rerouted me for His purpose at the right time (I guess that is an example of God ordaining praise in the mouth of babes- He just brought to pass that which He helped me say, even in ignorance). I came to Zaria for the NYSC programme, after my degree program as a Petroleum Engineer. I was then posted to the College after an initial posting which didn’t work out. While on the pursuit to finish service and leave for “greener pasture”, I was offered an opportunity to remain with the College which I declined. Close to the end of service year, Shell also called me for an exam in Lagos, Nigeria and after I got back, I got another request to stay with the College. I was going to decline that offer when I heard this voice asking me, “Why do you want to leave?” I could not explain the peace that question generated in me, so I accepted the offer. That’s how my journey into the Aviation World became rock solid. It has been favour all the way.


Who is an AME and in case of an emergency, what would be an AME’s role?


  • Know your job so well you can recite it while sleeping.


An Aircraft Maintenance Engineer is personnel in charge of keeping an Aircraft he/she is type rated on, serviceable and airworthy. Some also serve as Flight Engineers on board some Aircrafts. In case of an emergency, they are meant to give professional Maintenance Advice as the case may be. However, primarily our job is to keep the Aircraft in a safe operational state, ready to fly.


How long have you been an AME at NCAT and what are your certifications?


  • Study to show thyself approved…a workman that needs not be ashamed


I have worked for 8 years (aside the 2 years I used for training). I hold the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Licence on TB-9 (Airframe and Engine), TB-20 (Airframe and Engine), Beech Baron58 (Aircraft and Engine), Pressurized and Gas turbine (Licence without type) Basic Helicopter (License without type) and I have certification to carry out Non-Destructive Test for Eddy Current, Dye Penetrant and Magnetic Participle Inspections for level II on Aircraft components. I also have certification for Quality Audit I n Aviation.

Have you had to make major adjustment (s) particularly since you are a lady in order to pursue your career?


  • Learn the rules that apply to your trade or passion


While I have not had to make any major adjustment, every trade comes with its rules and to excel, one must abide by them. While these rules apply to everyone, I had an advantage, the peace to delve into this trade. This made me give it my best shot without a second glance. Being a lady, I understood that being graceful can make the work environment accept you, and thank God I had the backing of the one who gives grace.


In Africa and Nigeria to be specific, work-life balance is a concept that is hardly discussed or altogether not understood among ladies. Most times, one major life activity has to be sacrificed for another to find expression. How then do you strike a balance?


  • Mature into phases of your life one season at a time

The realization that God is interested in all aspect of my life struck this balance for me. He is the director and will open up the pages of each phase as I mature into them. So what I paid attention to was to “mature into the phases” and let them come naturally. That way, I was not going to burn myself out and stress myself into aspects I was not ready for, while enjoying the phase I had already grown into.


What are the qualities that define a good AME and is it a general rule(s) that can be applied to any or every other area of life? Daily life especially!


  • Attention and team work is the key to mastery and excellence.


A good AME must be an attentive person; he or she must have the ability to pay attention to the things that matter. Attention is the key to mastery and excellence. This perceptive ability is first God given and grows with use and experience. Team work is another attribute a good AME must have; it is the ligament to the two attributes mentioned earlier.

These two attributes to me are keys to being the finest AME and they apply to every other area of life.

Let’s talk about the Nigerian aviation industry…Nigeria has seen an interesting expansion and a growing interest in entrepreneurial activities amongst millenials but the Nigerian aviation industry remain insulated from these changes. We don’t see the hype on social media…what in your opinion is the cause?


  • Nothing can replace hard work, a great eye for spotting opportunities or selfless ambition


There is no parking space in the sky. I personally feel we should be more posed at doing the work and not talking the talk. There is still a lot to be done on the drawing board so as to get this sector started and sustained on the high not it deserves. Therefore, Nigerian Aviation should not be about propaganda, but about the finest technology and managers coming together to harness the large market we have in this country and the world as a whole.


You are a woman who to a large extent can be considered successful, ambitious and a go-getter. Are there opportunities for women who want to be like you to explore in the aviation industry?


  • Identify your passion


There are so many opportunities a woman can explore here. They range from Air Traffic Controllers, to Aeronautical and Telecommunications Engineers, Pilots, AMEs, Cabin Crew, Ground Handlers, Dispatchers, Caterers, Airport Mangers, Instructors… The list is numerous. Just pick what you have passion for and that’s your go. I am a hands-on and brain work person. So maintenance works for me.

What is your take on purpose, success and fulfilment in light of what you do as a living (how has it impacted the people who look up to you?


  • Create your own style but let it be identifiable by others


I learn from what I do daily and love it. I get to meet people frequently and add to my sphere of influence. HOW HAS IT IMPACTED THOSE WHO LOOK UP TO ME? What we do is not really what people see, but the way we do what we do them. I pay attention to showing people that being themselves is all that matters. Dignity of Labour is not about the class of job, but the individual style one puts into what he or she does. I tell them to “make it look unique, because the God given potential to lies on the inside.”



Richard Branson of Virgin Group is a man I follow closely, and I must say his business principles have largely shaped the way I relate with clients and customers. Who are your role models in the industry?”


  • Seek mentorship


I am more into company names and not people. I love the style Boeing and Airbus brings to the front and the sleekness Bombardier offers is breath taking. These companies are simply, edge cutting. I am sure the CEOs, Presidents or Founder or Head / Lead (William Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg, Thomas Enders, and Joseph-Armand Bombardier etc.) as the case may be will sound alike and tell you ‘It’s all in the team’. So I like to say, I particularly go for great teams than personalities.


Having reached this stage in life, what relationships can you look back on and say have helped you become who you are today?


  • Have the right relationships


I will simply tag it as the ‘right relationship’ – not necessarily because we know what to do per time, but because God showed mercy. I have had senior Engineers and team Leaders teach me the job; people who gave me timely advice and even those who wanted to mislead me but it didn’t work.


This one is on finances, life and relationships… What can you say to the lady out there who is completely clueless as to where her life is headed; dealing with a dysfunctional relationship and flat broke assuming you had the opportunity to talk to her?


  • Immaturity and lack of understanding causes dysfunctional relationships


I would first ask God to help her. That inner peace is very important. Then, based on the opportunities that comes her way and her passion, I will encourage her to try her hands on them. Dysfunctional relationships are majorly due to immaturity and lack of understanding; not necessary due to lack of funds. So she should take a step back, view things from a more mature perspective as regards what she is able to handle, cut off those she cannot handle and go for those which she can. She will get it together with time.


What will be your advice to the lady out there hoping to combine family life and career pursuits?


  • Get wisdom! Pray for favour!


To excel in Family life and career, what is needed is practical wisdom and favour. Apply God’s instructions to your everyday life and ask for favour in all you do. Both are essential in having a relaxed and flourishing life.


Any other thing you may like to add?


  • Be excellent!


Life is not meant to burn us out but to show off the excellence God has put in us. Let’s live relaxed, trusting in the one who has given to provide help, direction and fulfilment. I wish all readers of Black Safaya Blog a fulfilling life. Thank you!

Here we go Dahlinks…sometimes you need to change your crowd if you are to stand out in the crowd. It’s high time you switched from gossiping with chickens to flying with eagles. To change your crowd, simply download our free self-help eBook (the one at the right side bar). We have compiled a list of people who are not only excellent at what they do but willing to speak with and mentor you. Why date mediocrity when you can marry success? Faya on!

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