A 49-year-old grandad might not be the image you conjure up when you think of a member of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew but Stephen Williams is one of the airline’s newest recruits.
In a blog on the Virgin Atlantic website, he explains how he went from a 30 year career in healthcare to getting his wings and taking to the sky.
“When my youngest son left home to go to university my wife and I decided to take a career break and moved to southern Spain where, amongst other things, we renovated an old village house in the mountains, something I will never do again in my life!” he says.
“After my break, I knew I didn’t want to go back to a management role and wanted to do something completely different.”
By chance, Stephen met a member of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew at a party, who suggested he apply. He says: “She convinced me that Virgin were looking for people with life experience and personality, and age was not a factor. So I thought why on earth not, I have nothing to lose, I am going to apply as I would love to do that – and now here I am!”
So if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to go through Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew training, Stephen is here to reveal all:
“The first week flies by and by the end it feels like I’ve been here months, not days,” he says. “The thing to remember is that it’s not just about learning new skills and behaviours, it’s also about meeting new people, fitting into a new organisational culture and finding new accommodation and bus routes. This is a massive life change for me; being somewhere I don’t know, taking a massive risk, a new career at 49!”
But the training period isn’t easy – Stephen admits that he was a bit worried about getting things wrong, his academic degrees weren’t going to help him here. “This is all about memory, recall and understanding why the processes are the way they are,” he says. “It makes no difference what other qualifications you have – we’re all on the same level where this stuff is concerned.”
During the training, Stephen got to know some of his fellow recruits and they supported each other through the practical assessments, including learning how to use the slide and raft.