‘Navigate yourself to the destination of your dreams and inspire others through your actions’ – Fatima Jakoet’s address to the Top Achievers 2019
Fatima Jakoet, Founder of Sakhikamva Foundation, pilot and MBA alumnus, shares her message that she was going to deliver at this year’s Top Achievers Awards:
On a usual day at the office, I would say: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome on board our flight…” However, today (Top Achievers Awards) is an extraordinarily, unusual day. Extraordinarily, as you graduate from the University of Stellenbosch Business School and recognised by the university as a Top Achiever. Unusual, as we find the whole world at a virtual halt during the pandemic and your first digital graduation.
Where we are now, makes me think of the role of a pilot. Where the aircraft’s nose is pointing, that’s where the aircraft is headed but this heading, is controlled by the pilot. Even though the lockdown has given us the opportunity to recalibrate our lifestyle, our spirituality, our business dealings, we have to remember that we now have to adapt our flightpath through the turbulence.
It feels like it was yesterday when I used to look up at the sky, sensing that it would bring me something special someday. One hot summers day, when I was about four or five, I heard the distinctive sound of a helicopter passing overhead. It had this huge big bucket dangling from it. I got so excited and somehow instinctively a baby is being delivered! At the top of my lungs that day and everyday thereafter, I would excitedly scream: “Helicopter, helicopter (aeroplane, aeroplane) bring me a brother or sister!” And that is where my dream started… to be the person who delivered the babies.
I dared to dream of becoming a doctor, a pilot, a supermodel, a spy and so many other things. I dreamt of becoming a doctor and a pilot and travel the world in my Cessna 142 from the tip to the top of Africa.
Shattered by the fact that I didn’t get into Medical School, I enrolled for a degree in Chemistry and qualified as a forensic scientist. After my basic training at the police services they handed me a 9mm parabellum and off I went on crime scenes as a narcotics specialist.
It was one day when I got called to a drug bust at Cape Town International Airport and there I was on the tarmac, standing in front of a gigantic 5 story Boeing 747 and it was whispering: “Fatima, come and fly me”. My childhood dreams came flooding back and I knew I wanted to be in control of that big metal machine. I packed my bags, said goodbye to all the drugs and went to Adelaide for my pilot training. It was an arduous journey to become a pilot. The most challenging part for me is gaining a level confidence and assertiveness a pilot need.
Sixteen months later, I popped through the clouds and landed at OR Tambo International Airport with shiny gold wings pinned to my shirt. My dreams came true.
…Navigate yourself to the destination of your dreams and inspire others through your actions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in all spheres. We have to find our ‘new normal’. You are now the pilot during these turbulent times. Only you have the power to navigate the course in getting those onboard as you find a more comfortable flight level. For all of us the ‘new normal’, is uncharted territory. Like the sight of an aeroplane that inspires me, I’m encouraging you to spread your wings. Navigate yourself to the destination of your dreams and inspire others through your actions.
As you lead the world through the ‘new normal’, I am confident that your experience at the USB has empowered you with the knowledge, courage and agility to excel as a leader.