Cathy Alldred is the global company’s first female UAV pilot
Tell us about yourself and your background
I was born and grew up in Adelaide, Australia then later moved to Melbourne. During this time I worked in the graphic design and digital imaging industry where big changes were happening as it transitioned from analogue to digital. Leaving Australia, I spent a year in Vancouver before meeting my husband and moving to Scotland. I love exploring, the more remote the better.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
By chance! The chief pilot at Cyberhawk dropped in some flyers for an open day when I happened to be working a shift in my previous part time job. Without a second thought I was quizzing him on the role and why they were looking for people who would be hanging around a climbing centre. When the answer was that they were looking for people who could handle themselves in the outdoors, and in particular, more remote areas, I chimed in that I could do that job. When the open day came around I dropped in my CV and was chatting to Bruce (Chief Pilot) and Chris (CEO)… three interviews later here I am!
Tell us about your organization and your role there
Cyberhawk began life ten years ago and has grown to become a world leader in UAV inspection, survey and visual asset management software. We operate globally, in around 30 countries, in sectors which include on and offshore oil and gas and wind, utilities and infrastructure.
My role here is UAV Pilot, which comes with a level of responsibility that is both challenging and rewarding. Working in the field as a team, I am responsible for planning and carrying out flights to the client’s specifications to capture data of the highest quality. This allows our team of engineers to produce inspection reports that are second to none in the industry. Needless to say my past 12 months here have centered on some very steep learning curves.
What do you like most about being in the UAV industry?
The challenge that comes with each new job I am sent into the field to complete. Not knowing where you are going and what you will do next week is also very exciting.
What’s your favorite type of project and why?
I really enjoy the slightly quirky, non-standard jobs as you are required to dynamically access the risk and liaise with the client if they are on-site, as you go along to discuss options. This is when you get to draw on life experience and skills to successfully complete the job and exceed customer expectations. This can be a very satisfying part of the job.
Do you have a success story you would like to share?
Since joining Cyberhawk I have had to learn how to fly with no previous experience. This is not only to satisfy the minimum requirements of the CAA, but to further develop manual flight skills to the Cyberhawk standards which are used to conduct inspection jobs obtaining the highest quality of data possible.
What excites you most about the potential for women in the industry?
Women have a methodical and intrinsically safe approach to tasks. Add this to the growing number of women who are increasingly confident about exploring their options within the STEM industry; it is a catalyst for a new group of minds not previously tapped into who are ready and willing to work hard to get results. These women have the opportunity to bring with them new ideas and a fresh approach to the industry using transferrable skills from a cross section of experience. This shouldn’t been seen as an us and them viewpoint, women and men have worked alongside each other successfully in many industries, it’s all about team effort and a balance of sharing knowledge, experience and technical skills.
What’s your current favorite drone to fly?
My favourite for inspection work is definitely the Intel Falcon 8 for its reliability and stability when flying close to live assets. Also the DJI Inspire 2 for film work as it has some really cool features for this kind of work.
What You’ve Learned:
What has been your most significant “lightbulb” moment since you entered the industry?
Drones aren’t just for the cool video shots you see in films nowadays. Inspection work, while not the most glamourous thing you can do with a drone, plays a pivotal role in keeping people safe in challenging and dangerous environments.
What have you learned you wish you had known when you got started?
How satisfying this job is and I wish I had found it years ago when drones were in their infancy.
Is there a tip you learned you would like to share with other women in the industry?
Yes, don’t be shy and always practice your flying skills more than what is required – it builds confidence and it’s so much fun too.
What’s the best way for W&D readers to connect with you?
Cathy Alldred – https://www.linkedin.com/in/cathy-alldred-a012b14a/