- Tell us your story – How did you start working on a DZ?
I was working in London with a career in international trade and sales, I always felt I could be more than a phone and a computer. Then my office was informed that all its workers were to be made redundant. The next day a skydiving friend (Thank you Tanya) tags me in a post that Skydive Spain is looking for ground crew. With 60 jumps proudly under my belt I leaped straight onto it, I was invited to come out for a 3-day interview and I loved it, during the formal part of the interview (20 minutes or so) I was asked about the company, “who’s the boss” I replied “ummm….I’m not too sure” Get this, the boss of Skydive Spain delivered that question to me herself, while the 2nd interviewer pointed to the boss, gesturing that’s the boss and smirking at me like ‘you idiot’, hugely embarrassing, hand over face kind of moment, that’s it I thought, I’ve blown it because I didn’t take the time to do the research! Hannah and I still have a good laugh about it today. During the 3 days I got to jump, loved the vibes at the DZ, the people, the place, the cheap beer and tapas. I returned home and eagerly awaiting a response, I was on the peak time train into London when I got offered the job, I screamed, the whole train looked at me, anyone who knows work trains first thing on a Monday morning into London. I quickly made plans to rent out my property, sell my stuff, did my research that I should have done before and moved to Spain, they call it in skydiving “cutting-away” it means from normal life, following your dreams and working at the DZ, live, breath and sleep skydiving, and I haven’t looked back since.
- How would you describe your current role at Skydive Spain?
That’s my first thought, I have a great job, I work a few days on the packing floor with a great team. I’m also heavily involved with customer satisfaction, creating a fun vibe, grouping people together, I’m there if people need help, make sure they have that extra special experience with us. I see lots of tandems customers as well, and they have varied emotions; content, excited or super nervous. I try to look after anyone that comes through the hanger no matter what they are here for; tandems, students, fun jumpers, big groups, event participants. I also run the social events for our residential courses (AFF and A+B Licence Week), keeping a friendly and social atmosphere for the students, helping them to get orientated around the local town and often connecting them with other groups of jumpers visiting at the same time. We had our Xmas Boogie a few months back, I was the party starter, I mean social networker haha for this event, I grouped skydivers together, grabbed anyone I could whether they were alone, new to this location or didn’t know where to go. I would suggest restaurants, bars, shops for their particular needs, but of course the focus is on the skydiving and the daily raffle was always popular “RAFFLE TICKETS..!!” with some awesome prices from manufactures in the industry. I loved it, everyone had a great time which means I’ve had a great time. Recently I’d been called the ‘happiness manager’, a group from Germany, made me laugh and smile I was so proud to be referred to such a title. I pride myself on ensuring that everyone has an unforgettable experience here while visiting us and if by chance that they have a bad experience I’m here to help them the best way I can. In the last year, I’ve got more involved within the Marketing department, something I’m really enjoying you’ll always see that I have my phone capturing pictures and sharing those moments, those moments that can easily be lost. I share via social media and this is where another nickname has arisen “paparazzi.”
- What do you love most about your job?
The people. I get to meet some seriously cool, great, interesting and fun individuals. I get to interreact with them throughout the day, join them after a full day jumping with a cold beer or two. When we have our residential weeks, I’m there to make sure the students get everything they need, from support at the DZ during their AFF levels to showing them around town in the evening sometimes even fantastic Sevilla and also the beach during the summer months! Each month I meet at least one group of people who don’t know each other, who are pursuing a dream, and then I get to watch them grow, whilst hearing their stories of how they came to do the course, and see them become friends and skydivers. Most of them become personal friends of mine as well. How lucky am I?
- What do you find most challenging and why?
When I see a student struggle and being disheartened, it rarely happens but it can, we were not born jumping out of planes, ‘we learn through the levels,’ that’s my favourite sentence to say when they beat themselves up. I also tell them a story of a friend I have who took 13 repeats on her levels and has gone on to compete in FS AAA Category in the UK (senior level). It is hard to see them at this point, some of them are thinking about quitting or coming back another time, however, most come out smiling with their crisp AFF licence sheet signed.
- How was your own experience taking the AFF course? I recall you took the AFF Residential course!
I got my skydiving licence through the static line course also known as RAPS in the UK at a Dropzone called Chatteris / North London Parachute centre. I completed the course even though everyone told me to quit and start the AFF. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I quickly got involved with the other jumpers there, great laughs, lots of support, lots of dinosaur dancing and I learned a lot being on the ground….those student holds! I had some great Instructors, some of my close friends today. It was really special to be a part of the sport and I just couldn’t get enough of it. I do have something funny to tell you…. during the Static line course students start jumping out at 3500FT and work their way to the top. My first experience at 12000FT I told my instructor that I can’t jump as my alti has gone to 0….Oh, how I was teased about that until I left.
- How often do you jump and what discipline?
Not as much as I should that’s for sure, that’s my fault, I’m not one of these 10 jumps a day kind of girl, never have been. Currently working on getting more and more jumps in. I like to try all the disciplines I can. I’ve tried WS but I wasn’t ready for that even though it was magical. I mainly jump FS / FF and a bit of tracking when it’s not big groups! I love to jump with the people who haven’t got many jumps, those new FS people, they are so grateful. I’m having a great time, and hey it’s skydiving it’s all cool and fun!
- What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard a skydiver say?
Can I manifest for the sunset load? I look at my watch, its 9AM, my reply “it’s 9AM, you’re way too early”. Customer says “I’ll buy you lunch and a beer at the end of the day” hahaha, you got to love that enthusiasm, bribery and that beautiful sunset load of course.
- How is your Spanish and what do you do to improve it?
Did my boss ask you to ask me this question? Haha. Yikes…my Spanish, well let’s just say it needs some more work, much more work. I try to speak as much Spanish as I can at work, even though if I do say things wrong…but it’s best way to learn. I’d call it more Spanglish though. All the packers speak Spanish so we often learn a word a day together or often ask them to explain a word. I regularly spend time on Duolingo. I try to visit Sevilla at least once a week, I’ve made some new Spanish friends so am experiencing the language more.
- We get inquiries daily from people who want to start a career in skydiving. What advice would you give to them?
Go for it!! Follow your dreams. Hang around at the DZ, get to know the staff in skydiving, recommendations are everything in this world. Ask questions, be positive and keen, be willing to start from the bottom. At Skydive Spain we’re a big family sharing the same passion, so get involved, do a skydive if you haven’t already it’s important to know the sport. Most importantly, know who the boss is during your interview and expect a whole load of fun!
- What is the question you are asked most frequently?
Time and when is the sunset load.
- In general, what is the attitude or emotional state that most students show on their first day of their AFF course?
Arriving with a pinch of nerves, keen to know everything all at once, loving the fact they are wearing shorts in winter. Lots have many questions the first question is always the same, “do you think we will get to jump today?”
- And how about after they finish? Do you normally notice a difference?
They are a lot calmer, they’ve stopped practicing their arch position in the local restaurants and supermarkets. They’ve come together as a group creating friendships that will last forever. They’ve made friends with other jumpers keen to know, see and share their experience. They’ve made great friends with the staff especially the instructors rather than fearing them. The nervous smiles have faded and its cheek to cheek smiles. They changed their questions from “do we go up when the parachute opens” to “when’s a good time to buy equipment and where from?” We always round off their AFF week with a showcase of all their AFF videos in the bar, it’s a great way to for everyone, staff included to see how far everyone has come, they’ve all been through a journey together and for the staff to see what they’ve been a part of, plus the students have celebratory beers so it’s a great way for everyone to relax, reflect, smile and celebrate with a beer or two.
- Do you believe your role is important to our customers and why?
I’m there to make sure everyone has a great time! From capturing photos, interviewing people, chatting to people, putting people together, keeping the good vibes going, helping the team with the things I know, being able to mix from department to department, listening to any complaints that may arise, passing information to the relevant departments, helping strangers meet new friends, advising them where to eat, and were not to…very important the next day in the ride up, always be kind to the pilots! I’m there, above all else, you are never a solo traveller at Skydive Spain, well, you may start off that way but you’ll leave with a whole load of crazy new friends. Seeing groups return to the DZ after a few weeks or months who were initially individuals who met at the DZ….wow that’s what I think is important.
- In three words describe how you feel when arriving to work in the morning?
Energetic, Happy, Skydiving.
- Do you have any specific goals that you would like to achieve professionally in the future?
To grow, to learn, to become a better skydiver. My biggest priority at this current time is my Spanish, I would love to have a full in-depth conversation with a Spanish customer, be able to interview them and understand fully what they are saying, which will only enable me to help them more and improve their experience. I would like to have more knowledge of marketing, something my colleagues in that department have spent a great deal of time teaching me, so thank you. I want to jump more, oh and a real biggy.. I want to finally learn how to land my canopy properly! You’d think after 8 years I would have got that already?!?!
- From your point of view, what would you say to people that ask “Is skydiving safe?”
It’s a high-risk sport but it’s those that participate in it that make it safe, you see we all look after everybody in the sky and on the ground, it’s a big family environment. We help each other, check each other and be the best and safest we can be. People who don’t know this sport don’t know about all the measures put in place to keep us safe, there is so much to learn, so much going on in the background i.e. canopy courses, exit orders, Jump Masters, reserve repacks, AADs, Safety Officers, Groundcrew, and that’s just the first few things that role off the top my head. It’s far more in-depth than outsiders know. I normally tell most of the customers I meet…. “we have a famous saying in skydiving, it’s safer being at the DZ then getting to and from the DZ.”
- Any last inspirational comment for our readers?
Have fun, be safe, look after each and don’t forget to pay your beer fines!