By Jennifer Cairns 02 Dec 2022 5 min read

From one runway to another: How I went from a Fashion Week model to an easyJet First Officer

Meet Jerome, currently a First Officer for easyJet, but former Fashion Week model. Read on to learn more about his journey and how he went from one runway to another.

 

Tell us a bit about you...

I'm Jerome. I was born in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa in the 90’s from a Ivorian mum and a French dad. I lived in Côte d’Ivoire for 10 years before moving to France. At this time my mum was a flight attendant, one of the few African women working as a cabin crew in France, and battling her way through the industry. My dad was responsible for maintenance on large fishing boats. 

Since my childhood I was the boy who was always playing joystick games on former Windows computers as I loved having complete control of the aircraft in full motion. At the age of 17, the year before I graduated from Secondary School, I was faced with a life changing decision to become a doctor or a pilot. I immediately got in touch with a commercial airline pilot I knew who briefly taught me about technical aviation terms. I was then fortunately given the opportunity to do a thirty-minute trial flight.

I found that having a contact in this industry gave me an eye changing insight into just how it really functions. From this experience, my burning desire for this career grew strong. Later on, after completing my preparative engineering school, I was accepted in a pilot training program in France, yet I decided not to attend it.

I was seeking for freedom; something different from studying or just being at school. Consequently, I embarked in new adventures and unpacked my suitcase for London, UK. 

 

What was your experience like in London?

London is a melting pot of people from around the world and a mix of cultures. As someone with a double culture, this city was the perfect match for me to grow as an individual.

I was living a shared house with British, French, Syrian, Lebanese, Italian, Australian, Caribbean, Venezuelan nationals. It was so enriching to discover cultures and live with such a variety of people (tasting their food as well, the kitchen area was amazing)!

This time is when I was scouted to become a model, something that seems very far from being a pilot, but with actually a few similarities. Indeed, modelling brought me to work with a large variety of creative individuals during shoots, campaigns or catwalk shows. As a commercial pilot for Europe's second largest airline, I am paired with different captains and cabin crew on a daily basis, most of them I only fly a couple of times a year with. 

Not only in London, I was also given the chance to model during Milan and Florence fashion week in Italy. That got me traveling to different cities across Europe, which fulfilled my desire to travel and meet new people, which is something very common to a pilot.

Pilots are also people who have to show themselves on point, on their best behavior as ambassadors of the airline they work for. We get to be in the spotlight when everything goes as planned and we’re in a front row as legally responsible if something ever goes wrong. I felt the same when I was on runway shows during fashion weeks.

Coincidentally, I went from one runway to another type of runway!

 

So, how did you find your way back to aviation?

After 3 years experiencing a hectic life in the UK, I felt ready to move on and embarked on my path to finally become a commercial airline pilot. Before I talk you through this, let me tell you that London was a much needed stopover in my life. Indeed it was the first time I lived far from family and friends, in a rather expensive city. As supportive as my parents were, at first they did not understand my decision not to pursue my studies in the traditional way, the 'go to school, graduate, study to get a ‘good’ job, earn a fair salary, buy a house and start a family' way.

This experience shaped me and allowed me to go through financial and emotional challenges. I was then able to write down my ambitions, set up short and long term goals and establish a new plan. 

A year and a half after taking the decision to leave London, I enrolled in one of  the top pilot training programs in Europe. This must be one of my biggest undertakings to date. I have never studied this much in a 2-year period, with all the energy, the commitment, the personal and financial pressures that come with it. This is when my experience in the UK kicked in, because I knew exactly what I wanted for my life and what it took! There was no chance for me to fail at this point!

 While I was still in pilot training, before I graduated with a frozen ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License), I was given the opportunity to go through an interview process with easyJet. I got the job and from this point onward, I became a First Officer. And here I am! 

If I had a piece of advice to share with aspiring aviation professionals and whoever really, it would be: Information is easily found nowadays but stay focused, keep learning about your field, know yourself sincerely and profoundly in order to pursue your inner goals. This way, a challenge will only be another hill to walk up. When there is a will, there is a way!  


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