EasyJet pilot Kate McWilliams has been named woman of the year after becoming the world’s youngest female captain aged 26.
She started her commercial flying training at 19 and was flying passengers across Europe with the budget carrier when she was 21.
McWilliams is now encouraging young girls and boys them to also consider a career in aviation.
She was among winners at the IBM iX everywoman in travel awards.
Olympic Holidays CEO Clare Tobin was recognised as leader of change while Avis Budget Group international sales and partnerships director Julia Kemp took the prize for executive leader.
Hannah Fairley, a Thomas Cook apprentice sales consultant from Edinburgh, was named as one to watch.
Festival Road managing partner Caroline Strachan was named entrepreneur of the year.
Alice Hye, services contracts manager for AC Group was recognised as tomorrow’s leader.
Celebrity Cruises manager Swati Agarwal, who supports the line’s commercial operations in Asia, gained the above and beyond award.
The team leader award went to Roisin O’Sullivan, chief operating officer of Dublin-based walking tours operator Walks.
A new category of male agent of change was won by RCL Cruises EMEA vice president and managing director Stuart Leven, who took a primary role in addressing the company’s gender pay gap.
The international inspiration ward went to New Delhi-based Meenu Vadera, founder of Azad Foundation and Sakha Consulting Wings, who spent 13 years working for Action Aid in Uganda before moving to India to set up two social enterprises.
Everywoman co-founder Karen Gill said: “Our recent white paper showed that access to female role models is a major source of inspiration for 74% of women, who state that role models inspire them to develop their careers.
“This is why visible female talent is essential in all industries – you can’t be what you can’t see.
“By showcasing the success stories of this year’s winners, we, along with IBM iX, are determined to encourage the individuals that’ll make a valuable contribution to the future of the UK’s thriving travel sector.”
Debbie Vavangas, UK and Ireland lead of digital strategy and iX for IBM, added: “Over the past two decades, developments in technology have played a fundamental role in the growth of the travel industry.
“Life is all about experiences and digital technology has changed the customer experience and the way in which we connect.
“Companies need to get smarter and adapt continuously as consumer expectations rise.
“In light of this, we need to recognise the outstanding achievements of those who work within this ever-changing industry.”
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