After leaving Loughborough High School, Louise Trinkle (nee Bartlett, LHS 1989) had a career in buying and selling aircraft, working with several major military and civil aerospace companies. In 2005, she emigrated to Australia and retired in 2007 after becoming unwell with a hereditary illness. Since then, she has raised her twins and fulfilled a lifelong ambition to play the saxophone in a concert band!
We caught up with Louise to learn more about her life and career.
Do you have any standout memories from your time at school?
Training incredibly hard for high jump and tennis, but always missing out on team places and awards because there were others with natural ability. Being told off by Miss Harvatt for breaking a chair that I DID NOT break!
How did your time at school help you personally and with your career?
To be honest, I didn’t enjoy school much. It taught me resilience in the face of adversity.
Was there a particular teacher that inspired you?
Academically, I’ll always remember Mrs Flynn, my maths teacher for several years, because she was quiet, thorough, kind and patient. But most of all, I’ll always be grateful to Mr Mercer because one day I asked him how he knew God exists, and he said to me “just look at the human eye, Louise, how could that have evolved?”. That still inspires me 34 years later.
What did you do after school e.g. University, gap year or apprenticeship? I went to UCW Aberystwyth (no idea what it’s called now) to read Law & Economics. I really enjoyed it.
How did the school support you with your above decision?
Mrs Armstrong told me “there isn’t even a Marks & Spencer in Aberystwyth” (which made me somewhat more determined to go there). Miss Harvatt was an absolute trooper and had a very robust conversation with my father when he seemed uncertain about letting me go to university – she was a fabulous Principal.
Can you explain your career path – how did you get to where you are today?
I left university in 1992. A careers advisor there said to me “if there were no ifs or buts, what would you do?” and I heard myself reply “buy and sell aircraft” which was somewhat unusual. I started working for what is now Leonardo Helicopters, but was Westland in those days. I worked as a contracts specialist for several major military and civil aerospace companies, on projects in the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa and several other countries. I ended up specialising in strategic alliances, but most of all I enjoyed doing due diligence on potential acquisitions – and having the odd ride in aircraft we were involved with. I emigrated to Australia in 2005, with my work, but became unwell in 2007 with a hereditary disease that I was unaware I had, so I retired at 37 years old. Life can have some very unexpected plot twists.
What are your career highlights?
Too many to list! I loved my job….Negotiating the Longbow radar, Hellfire missile system and target acquisition/night vision system subcontracts for the British Army’s Apache helicopters. Flying at low level across the top of an aircraft carrier. Walking around the space shuttle recovery 747 aircraft in a “graveyard” in Arizona. Flying in a Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft in an air show display. Finishing work early to go and stand on Table Mountain because the clouds suddenly cleared. Reaching senior management level in a major defence plc at 28 years old. Being one of only three women at the NATO 50th anniversary dinner in the Banqueting House in Whitehall. landing in a helicopter on an oil rig on the North West Shelf of Australia.
What have you done outside of your career that you are most proud of?
Emigrated to Australia alone, with two cats and a horse. Happily married, had twins, and fulfilled a lifelong ambition to play saxophone in a great concert band. I play classical soprano and alto sax.
Do you have any life experiences that standout?
So many things stand out. I’ve been really fortunate to live a fascinating life, meet many incredibly interesting people and travel a lot. Obviously, emigrating is an epic life experience, but the one thing I will always be so thankful we did was to take our kids out of school and go camping for 3 months around the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland. There’s nothing like being in a very remote place, with a campfire and the stars. And you can’t give a kid any greater gift than your uninterrupted time.
What is something that you would want your younger student self to know?
You are very capable.
What is your top career advice?
Follow your interests and passions when choosing a career, but consider the lifestyle you’ll need to lead – family and friends are more precious than a job. Don’t expect to set the world on fire in your first job – the people who do well in the long run patiently learn the ropes for years, and the best leaders know their industries/companies inside out.
Do you have any life advice or wisdom to share?
When you have kids, you’ll suddenly realise how little you know about life! One of my boys is autistic and living life with him teaches me so much. The less straightforward life is, ultimately the more rich and meaningful it is, so grit your teeth and hang on in there when things are tough.
Is there anything that you would have done differently?
I would have had fewer boyfriends, learned to play saxophone earlier, and not waited until I was 47 to find out how great dogs are!
Finally, who is your woman of the week – who inspires you?
Madeleine Albright – one of the two other women at NATO’s 50th dinner. First female US Secretary of State. Do read her autobiography if you get chance. Musically, Amy Dickson (especially playing MacMillan or Glass) totally inspires me.