This is a story about chutzpah, humour and hard work – lots of it. Jan Becker is the walking example, the embodiment of all of those characteristics and more. Some 18 years after founding Becker Helicopter Services with her husband, Mike, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she has good reason to smile.
As she tells me today in my AFR.com Enterprising Women column, they are reaping the hard-won rewards for all that work, with a $30 million contract to train the Saudi Arabian National Guard (2009) and revenues around $20 million for the 2013 year. They train pilots from all over the world – about 75 or more per year – and she says whether it is fire-fighting in Colorado, Antarctic exploration or animal culling in Africa, chances are the pilot was trained by her team.
Check her out, accepting a Telstra 2013 Queensland Business Award. She is great fun and deserves it all.
Jan started out as a mid-wife and travelled all over Australia and South-East Asia with her husband, Mike, and even these days she will do few shifts at the local hospital just to stay in touch! In the meantime she has about 300 flying hours, got her commercial licence, and her business has a fleet of more than 14 choppers, valued over $14 million.
Her masterstroke was to develop the International Helicopter Pilots Licence, which takes around 180 hours of flying over 10 months and includes night-vision goggles training, sling-load, advanced formation and many other skills. Mike, with 15,000 flying hours was her inspiration for the business as she knew he could teach and she could create a business to make it happen! It’s all about training the next generation of helicopter pilots. Cleared for take-off, Captain Becker!