Nicole Brown

Pilot Mum

Wheat harvester, nanny and check out chick during COVID and soon to be train guard

Roles in life and work

I am Mum to two young adult children and a friend across a diverse range of wonderful people in my life.

I trained in country NSW to be a Pilot from the age of 18 and have worked for Impulse, Ansett, Hong Kong Express and recently Virgin Australia over my career.

I have always had leadership roles with responsibility, without a lot of freedom to choose how I use my time. They all required commitment and resilience. I have also experienced positive discrimination as a female pilot in a man’s world but have always embraced it and worked hard to live up to the opportunity.

No one role has been long enough to accrue long service leave, so I am taking advantage of time away from flying post COVID to shift my focus to my own health and happiness.

What are you juggling right now in your life?

My primary purpose is being a Mum to my kids and my focus more than ever is being a role model for how to respond to change and challenges.

In August I had a double hip replacement so have focused on recovering from that whilst embracing the changes to my work. I am currently on Job Keeper until I return to flying next year.

In hospital I observed a whole new fast paced industry and looked at job opportunities in passenger transport, pathology, and the pharmacy at the hospital. My search moved from NSW Health to Transport and I applied from my hospital bed to become a train driver. Interviewing and doing assessments whilst on pain killers did not result in a driver job, but they have offered me a train guard position I will start in March.

In the meantime, I have had some amazing job opportunities. For two and a half weeks I worked in Nyngan driving the chaser bin on the wheat harvesters. This was the first time since becoming a Mum I was able to pack up the car and go off for an incredible adventure farming and cooking during harvest time. Now I am back and have started on the check out at Woolworth’s and a nanny 3 days per week.

How do you value your time?
My kids have always been my number one priority but recently I have started to prioritise myself too. Not only am I recovering from my hip replacements, but I am recovering from flying life. My work has never been predictable or with routine. I can be woken at 3am, sign on at 5am, fly several routes in the day and be in a hotel late into the night without a decent meal.

My immune system has been depleted over the years flying and having had meningococcal, I know I need to focus on my health. The key to your health is routine sleep, nutrition, and exercise, so after all these years I am trying to dedicate time for me with yoga, walking regularly, going out again and an occasional male companion.

Thinking about value, my current hourly rate does not match my experience, but its my time to put value on connecting in my community rather than the money. Time is valuable and life is short, so I will not be sitting back waiting for things to change, I will search out the things that make me happy.

How do you manage your time effectively?

I get out of bed early; I focus on the big picture and in my mind, I constantly have a picture of how all the things in my life need to be addressed. It has taken me many years to manage my time well though, its still a work in progress.

How do you separate work and personal time?

Separating my work at home is easy, as I am a shift worker that can leave at the end of the day but balancing personal at work is challenging and requires a great deal of discipline.

Men in my line of work tend to focus on one box or responsibility at a time, but us women have so many open boxes to contend with.

Virgin has always been very good if you have issues at home, they would rather you not fly when you have personal issues to juggle, which was great the time my son ended up in emergency with his head split open whilst I was between a flight from Perth and the next to Brisbane – I was able to get a replacement and head to my son.

What does your support network look like?

My family are amazing and supportive, and I have a great group and male and female friends. My Mum and Dad are my number one mentors in life and my uncle is my aviation mentor. I pay for services that make my life better like a masseuse, cleaner and yoga. 

What kind of conversations do you have with your inner voice?

Happiness is from within, so I tell myself to let it go. I must remember not everyone is like me, and men and women process and prioritise differently.

I try and surround myself with people that make me happy, like minded people that amaze me with what they bring to my life.

Do you have any time saving tips for the One P community?

Start your day early, keep a diary, write lists, prioritise and make time for you, to recharge you.

When it comes to saving time deciding what to wear, I suggest buying clothes that actually fit, no matter what the size says on the tag. Rather than clutter your wardrobe with clothing that won’t make you feel good, find those garments that make you feel great when you put them on.

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