About Puja Mahajan
Puja Mahajan, an aeronautical and environmental engineer by trade, is an experienced executive who excels in building innovative and service-oriented organisations. Having spent over 25 years in corporate aviation, she has held positions at Pratt & Whitney Canada, Bombardier Aerospace and was most notably CEO of Maltese operator Elit’Avia and EVP Business Development at Comlux. Puja is currently the Co-Founder and CEO of Azzera, a start-up initiative designed to make fighting climate change for Business Aviation companies an effortless experience. Puja is Canadian by birth, Indian by origin and after living in Rome, Italy for many years, she currently resides in Zurich, Switzerland.
When did you find out you wanted to pursue your passion?
I’ve always been passionate about aviation and the environment. Still, it wasn’t until I had gained a lot of experience in the industry that I realized I could combine those passions to make a real impact. During my time as CEO of Elit’Avia, I became deeply interested in sustainability and the idea of making the aviation industry more environmentally friendly. That experience inspired me to start Azzera and create a platform to help business aviation companies become more sustainable.
What do you like most about your work?
What I love most about my work is the opportunity to make a real difference. Working with the mission to make real change in Aviation, an industry that I have worked in for over 25 years, has re-energized my passion for aviation and technology. In Azzera I am working with a young team of very passionate, intelligent people and its truly a gift. I am inspired by them daily, and hopefully, I am helping them grow to become future successful leaders in the fight against climate change.
Have you witnessed a change within the last years within the industry? Do you see it as negative or positive?
Yes, I’ve seen a change in the aviation industry over the past few years. There’s been a growing recognition that we need to take action on climate change, which has led to many positive changes. For example, there’s been a lot of innovation around sustainable aviation fuels, and many airlines and aviation companies are setting ambitious targets to reduce their emissions. What is coming in terms of electric-powered aircraft and eVTOLS is very exciting. Of course, there are still challenges to overcome, but overall I see the changes as positive and necessary.
What are the most valuable things you’ve been taught to get to where you are now?
First and foremost, one can never underestimate the need to work hard. I can honestly say I have worked very hard in my career, and whether it was intended or not, that hard work was rewarded with newer, better opportunities. I always had mentors and coaches along the way to guide me, both men and women, and their advice often brought me out of situations when I thought I was “stuck”. Whether as a leader, or business-related concerns, or even finding that “work life balance”. Most recently, I learned the true value of collaboration and teamwork. Starting a company is a huge undertaking, and it’s impossible to do it alone. With limited resources I’ve been fortunate to assemble a team of talented and dedicated people who share my vision and are committed to making it a reality. Their collaborative skills, especially in this post-COVID digital world, never cease to amaze me. I am both thrilled and extremely proud of the work we are producing.
What is unique about the environment you work in? What can you find here you can’t find elsewhere?
One thing that sets Azzera apart is our focus on demystifying and untangling the massive onslaught of climate change action and making it effortless to take action. We bring together sustainable action and businesses by catalyzing their first steps with simple, each to implement tools. For example, we are creating a marketplace for carbon offsets and sustainable aviation fuels, helping companies in the business aviation industry become more sustainable in a way that’s easy and accessible. We also place a strong emphasis on the quality of the projects we invest in and provide full transparency so small and mid-size companies than cannot afford dedicated resources have a sustainability partner that assures integrity.
What advice would you give someone who would consider starting a company?
My advice would be to stay focused on your goals and be persistent. Starting a company is never easy, but if you believe in what you’re doing and are willing to do the work, you can achieve great things. It’s also essential to build a strong team around you and to surround yourself with people who share your vision and are committed to making it a reality. And finally, don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Innovation is key to success in any industry, and it’s important to be willing to experiment and try new approaches.
What keeps you going when the going gets tough (when things are more difficult)?
My passion for sustainability and the knowledge that what we are doing at Azzera is making a positive impact is what keeps me going when the going gets tough. When faced with challenges or setbacks, it can be easy to feel discouraged or overwhelmed. However, by focusing on the bigger picture and the positive impact we are making, I can stay motivated and determined to overcome any obstacles that may arise.