Welcome back to another edition of Cabin Crew Profiles, where we introduce you to personalities and individuals within the world of aviation. Covering ground staff, private and commercial flight attendants, they share their story of how they made it into aviation, what has kept them there, their favourite moments and advise on what to do if you want to follow on their footsteps.
Today, we speak to Cibele Machado, a First Class flight attendant for the Dubai based Emirates Airlines. Originally from the Porto Alegre region of Southern Brazil, she found herself unexpectedly flying to Dubai without previously having had working for Emirates in her radar having previously studied to be a journalist. Over 10 years later and ready to hang up her wings, she sits down with us to share her story. We hope you enjoy this latest instalment.
Elite Cabin Crew: Hi Cibele, thank you for joining us, we can’t wait to hear more about you!
Cibele Machado: Thank you for inviting me here, I hope you find my story interesting.
ECC: So first of all Cibele, please let us know a little about where you are from? CM: I was born in Candiota, a small town 4 hours away from Porto Alegre in Southern Brazil. I would describe my town as a quiet and isolated place that caters for those who wish to live a quiet life.
ECC: Did you enjoy growing up there?
CM: I definitely enjoyed growing up in Candiota and I love going back home, but I also realised that I lived far away from most things. This became a bit more obvious when I started my upper education in Bage, a city of almost 200,000 people about 25 kilometres from Candiota. This meant that I needed a car to do most things, to see my friends, to go to school, shopping, to go to the cinema and so on.
ECC: How did you get started in Journalism?
CM: My mother worked for a firm in the Public Relations department and it was something that really interested me. Once I finished high school I studied Graphic Design and Editing for a few years before I started studying journalism at my local university. I loved all aspects of it, I specially loved being able to put my view on things and being able to share it with an audience. When I finished my degree, I felt that I needed more life experience in order to become a better journalist so instead of starting my career immediately, I took a job at a local English school, teaching other Brazilians to speak the language.
ECC: Was your English school recruiting flight attendants? CM: No, but the person I was hired to replace was leaving to become a flight attendant, he would come back to the school to visit us and tell us about his job and how much he enjoyed it. The seed was planted there and then, he also told us about the qualification you need to gain in Brazil to become a Flight Attendant. Where you go through general aviation training as well as Safety and Emergency Procedures, airlines in Brazil will not consider hiring anyone without this qualification.
ECC: Does that mean that you were only looking to fly within Brazil? CM: Exactly, I had fully planned to stay in Brazil, my thinking was that flying would allow me to experience new things within my own country, and that these new experiences would make me a better journalist. It would allow me to understand people from different regions better. I was preparing to attend open day for Azul, a local Brazilian airline, when the someone suggested I should attend the Emirates interview. I was already going to be in Sao Paolo during those days, so I thought why not?
ECC: How long did it take for you to get your golden call?
CM: I attended my open day in October 2010 and I got my golden call in February of 2011, so it took 5 months. I was also successful with my Azul interview and I was already an employee for them but I knew I had to take the opportunity to live in the Middle East.
ECC: Did you know anything about Dubai before you moved to the city? CM: I must say I didn’t know much about Dubai and I wasn’t sure about what I should expect to see once I landed. I had never been and I had no idea of how big the city was before I moved here, everyone knows about the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab but I had no real expectations of where I would live and what everything would be like. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by everything once I arrived and amazed by various things.
ECC: Is there anything you found challenging once you moved?
CM: Once you move to a different country, you start to realise that you have to learn new things and more importantly, that the working and social customs that you have been used to your whole life are often misunderstood and/or different. Living with people from different cultures brings its own set of challenges and doing this for the first time can be stressful, once you add the new working culture and knowing that you are working for one of the biggest companies in the world forces you to adapt to a lot of things in a short period of time. I also felt like I was always on duty, specially whilst I was on layovers, as you are always representing the company, this feeling went away after a while but it was challenging at times.
ECC: What made you decide to stay?
CM: Once I adapted to the role I started having a lot of wow moments, I would see places that I had read about in history books, I would walk places and link them to historical events that I had studied about. I managed to attend a Mass with the Pope in Vatican City, that experience was surreal. Visiting ground zero in New York was also amazing as it was a part of recent history, a place that I had only seen in the news, I was able to relive so many experiences I had only seen on the TV.
ECC: What is your favourite destination?
CM: It is difficult to just choose one place as I have made many memories in different places and each location is special for different reasons. If I had to pick one though, it would be Rio De Janeiro. I chose to be a Flight Attendant to discover my own country, but my first trip to Rio De Janeiro was whilst on duty with Emirates, it was great to feel like a tourist in my own country and it’s the flight I have done the most throughout my career!
ECC: Were there any places that didn’t live up to the hype?
CM: Being a big movie fan, I love the film Casablanca and I was expecting to relive that magic, but it was so different to what I had seen on film and what I was hoping to see on Television. The place itself is nice but it didn’t live up to the hype.
ECC: What is the most difficult thing about becoming a Flight Attendant that no one talks about?
CM: I would say that balancing your work and social life balance is extremely challenging, the job is very demanding and you lose the ability to control your schedule. You will often find yourself missing out on family events, you could find yourself working on your birthday or spending holidays with people on a flight and not with your close ones. An upside to it is that you learn to appreciate the time you have with the ones you care about and it allows you to reflect on your life and what is important to you.
ECC: Will you carry on flying in the foreseeable future?