Iconic Women

The Mother-Daughter Duo Watching Kenya's Planes Take Flight; Maureen Okomo and Venessa Onyullo

By Aisha Kabiru Mohammed | Aug 3, 2022

Maureen Okomo and Venessa Onyullo are helping Kenya's planes take to the sky. The Kenyan mother and daughter duo who work as aircraft engineers and dominate the field in Kenya. Both mother and daughter are trained aeronautic engineers.


Maureen Okomo

Maureen Okomo is Kenya's first licensed female aeronautical engineer. She obtained an associate degree in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology in 1988. She secured a job during an attachment in her final year of school.

The programme would always send her out with other attachments in the industry to put what they had learnt into practice and how it is applied. While in her fourth year, Maureen took up a three-month extension with Kenya Airways. Research showed her that what she had learnt in school was also applicable to planes, and that started her career in aviation.

In 2011, she obtained a master's of Business administration in Aviation/ Airway management operations from Moi University. After that, she worked as Head of Base maintenance at Kenya Airways; she was promoted to Head of Line Maintenance in 2012 and left in 2014. She currently works as Director of maintenance at Jambojet. 

Maureen is currently licenced by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) to handle radio communications and avionic systems.


Vanessa Onyullo

Vanessa is Maureen's first daughter and as she watched her mother work she was also inspired to become an aeronautical engineer. One say she flew on her mother's wings. 

Vanessa Onyullo is one of the few female aeronautical Engineers in Kenya. Her background is in aeronautical engineering, specifically airframe and engines. She has a BSc. Degree in Aviation Maintenance Science with a concentration in Aviation Safety and a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Texas.

She worked as a student technician at the university from 2015-2017 while obtaining her degree. She also worked as a student counsellor and an aircraft maintenance technician in 2020 she and fellow students at the university organised a rally to support the protest of George Floyd's killing.

She is currently licensed for aircraft bodies and engines. That is within the American system or FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). She is also practising as a reliability analyst. She controls the Maintenance Department.