Dawn Manderson joined Cayman Airways in 1987, young and fresh out of school. Her mother, who worked for Cayman Airways at the time, was her inspiration for applying. She shares, “I remember feeling very glamorous and proud once I passed all the training and tests. It was an honour to walk through the airports in my Cayman Airways uniform.”
Since 1987, Dawn has held many roles. Starting as a Cabin Crew Member, she moved to Frequent Flyer Agent, then Planning and Technical Records Clerk, then Supervisor. After a departure from the company, she came back as Senior HR Officer and finally rose to the role she holds today — Executive Assistant to the President and CEO. When asked if she had a favourite role, Dawn humbly replied, “I can honestly say I do not. They have all been interesting, challenging and rewarding in their own ways.”
Dawn’s impressive tenure at Cayman Airways has allowed her to watch the company grow. “The changes in the world and our country have pushed Cayman Airways to new heights, and I am proud to see the direction it has moved in the 51 years in service.” Dawn’s numerous roles in the company have given her a full appreciation of how the company works and the positive impact the airline has on the Cayman Islands. It has also given her a deep appreciation for her co-workers, which she fondly describes as her second family.
Her passion for her co-workers led her to be Chairman of the Social Committee, which hosts gatherings for staff to bond and relax outside of work. Dawn is also blessed to work with her first family, too. Her mother continued to work at Cayman Airways for about 20 years, and now, following in her footsteps, Dawn’s son, as well as her sister-in-law and a few cousins, also work for the company.
Dawn’s commitment to family, friendship and hard work were recognised at the company’s most recent Christmas party when she won Cayman Airways’ Employee of the Year. This prestigious, peer-scored award was a huge honour for her. She recalls, “It is truly a wonderful feeling to know your peers feel this about you and appreciate you. I cannot stress enough what an honour this is.” She went on to describe the awards evening as very emotional and a huge surprise, as she did not expect to win.
For those thinking of joining the airline industry, Dawn shares some advice: You should be prepared for hard work and for no two days to be the same. She continues, “The travelling public as a whole are very demanding but also the most rewarding.”
A typical day for Dawn includes working with internal and external customers with various issues that were not on her schedule for the day. She cautions, “Don’t expect what you have scheduled for the day to be what is accomplished, because no two days are the same.” Her final words of wisdom: “Once you have worked in aviation, it is in your heart and it very much becomes a part of who you are. It is worth every challenge and blessing.” Over the years, Dawn has risen over her challenges and been a part of Cayman Airways’ growth and success.
1987 Cabin Crew Member
1989 Frequent Flyer Agent
1992 Planning and Technical Records Clerk (Maintenance)
1995 Planning and Technical Records Supervisor (Maintenance)
1999 CAL Departure
2010 Returned to CAL as Senior HR Officer
2011 Executive Assistant to the President and CEO
By Stacie Sybersma
Photo by Blue Dot Studios
Author: Stacie Sybersma
Photographer: Blue Dot Studios