Celebrating Black History Month: An Interview with Leslie Ann Reece

Leslie Ann Reece.

Black History Month is an annual celebration that highlights the accomplishments of the Black and African Americans community and acknowledges their pivotal role in shaping U.S. history. Throughout February, as part of our observance of Black History Month, InsideAtlas will be featuring the stories of our Black colleagues throughout the Company. This week, we invite you to get to know Leslie Ann Reece. 

Tell us about your journey to Atlas/Polar. How did you get here and how long have you been at the Company?

I am from Trinidad and Tobago. I immigrated to the United States with the goal of becoming a pilot one day. I started out working for one of Atlas’ service vendors and eventually, I moved over to Atlas Ground Ops. I was hired as a station rep and then I was promoted to supervisor, then assistant manager. Shortly after, I was promoted to Station Manager for JFK for Polar.

What is your favorite part about working in aviation? And, what is your favorite part about your job?

Atlas is such a diverse company. You get to meet people from all over the world. We all put our ideas together and work as one. I always say, ‘There is no ‘I’ in team.’ We all pick up the slack.

As the station manager and as a woman, I love that I get to boss all the guys around. LOL.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

As a female in this industry, the best advice I’ve received is to never undermine the power of what a woman can do. Always stay focused and do what you need to do. If there is something you want, stay focused and go for it!

So many people I have met in this industry have encouraged me, I have lots of support and connections, especially with women in the industry.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in aviation?

I would tell someone to stay curious and be committed to learning. The aviation industry is vast, and it continues to evolve. There are so many opportunities to learn.  Be your own cheerleader! Push yourself and use all the tools you have. There is a lot to learn, keep going. Work hard, play harder!

What are some things you’re passionate about?

It is just a thrill for me to see where I am now! I have so many role models like Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to hold a pilot’s license. She is such an inspiration to me, as are the groundbreaking achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen, the African American military pilots who fought in World War II. I like to know that I can be a role model to someone coming up in the industry.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month means a lot to me. It all goes back to the Black aviators I mentioned before who paved the way. This month shows us that no matter your color or race, you can put your mind to something and accomplish it. I hope this month represents that we are all the same, no matter our color. If we both have cuts, we both bleed.

What do you love most about working at Polar?

I have loved my job since my first day! When I was a little girl, my friends were playing with dolls, and I was playing with airplanes. I love that I have a job in aviation. Sometimes I get emotional that I am not the one flying the planes, but I think one day I will take flying lessons. I know I would be great at it!