Source: Vientiane Times
A five-year-old girl with big dreams has grown up to be the first Lao female flight attendant at Qatar Airways, one of the world’s leading airlines.
“Once young people wish to chase their childhood dreams, take stronger steps and keep an eye on the goals, nothing is impossible.”
This is the message from a former hotel receptionist who is now a flight attendant with Qatar Airways.
Back in 1992, a five-year-old Lao girl, Soumalai Phothisane, known for short as “Pou”, was on her way along with her dad and brother to Australia for her father’s doctoral scholarship in Queensland.
There were about seven to eight hours in transit at the Don Muang International Airport in Thailand. Pou stood at the automatic walking path, where thousands of passengers passed in a rush for boarding.
There, the little girl noticed the angelic figures of the flight attendants. “I stood staring at them beside the automatic walkway as there were so many flight attendants of different airlines passing by.”
“And yes, many of them dressed smart and had that elegant look,” Pou says.
On her way to Australia, during the meal service, as flight attendants reached her seat, her father who knew she admired them, woke her up and the first thing she saw was a beautiful warm smile from the flight attendant.
“My dad woke me up to see the air hostess while I was sleeping and leaning my head against my seat, and my mouth was dribbling a bit,” she says with a giggle, adding that she was quickly conscious and then closely watching the staff doing their duties.
“I liked it very much when those angels came close to me and smiled at me sweetly. So my dream was sparked by their service and smile, and it made me want to be an air hostess on the spot,” she said.
During her education in her early years in Queensland, Pou kept learning English and interacted with local students and also kept dreaming about becoming an air hostess one day.
“Drawing a picture of airplanes and princesses [air hostesses] was the beginning of my dream. My father fueled that with his positive comments on my drawings,” Pou admits.
A couple of years later, in 1996, her father graduated and after completing Grade 4 primary level in Australia the family moved back to Laos, where Pou continued her schooling.
After secondary school, she was convinced by her father to pursue university level education in Thailand where her father was then a lecturer.
Pou did not hesitate to choose which major to study; she quickly enrolled in tourism and hospitality. After her graduation, she worked as a hotel receptionist in Phuket province for almost two years as she thought this was one of the steps to reach her dream goal.
Back t o the year 2008, she was still a hotel employee as a receptionist and performed her duties as usual. But then one of her colleagues came up with the news about Emirates Airlines offering employment opportunities.
“I applied to this airline twice, but failed. But I intended to apply again in the next six months, according to the company’s principles,” she says.
Pending the next attempt, Pou was working hard to practice her English pronunciation as well as writing essays because it was an important part of the exams.
To build up her confidence for the next step, Pou applied to Qatar Airways in Bangkok.
“To be frank, Qatar Airways wasn’t in my head at all, but I felt it would help me to be more confident for the next attempt,” she says with a smile.
While she was applying for Qatar Airways, she felt no stress at all and continued with her everyday routines. The application process included the submission of a CV, job pre-screening, group discussion, an English test and final interview.
With simple attire, Pou did not feel the need to hide her charms. Instead, she demonstrated her friendly manner to meet and greet the application committees as one of over 1,200 applicants.
“The important topic in my application process was that I was asked if there was any issue or problems that I had solved during the past. So, I used my experience in managing problems at the hotel,” Pou says.
A week later, Pou received a congratulations letter from the airline for her success in passing the final interview and then proceed to the medical check up before joining the company.
The year 2017 marks her eight years of flying with Qatar Airways, flying to over 150 destinations worldwide.
The airline was recently named the World’s Best Airline for the fourth time! It made the grade in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017, as judged by Skytrax.
Pou’s current position is a Cabin Senior and she will soon become a Cabin Service Director in overall in charge of the flight this October.
Last but not least, Pou left a comment to inspire other Lao youngsters who dream big, saying “I am Lao and if I can do it, I am sure other Lao can do it, you just need to go for it !”