How did you start in aviation?
When I was 14 I managed to get a part-time job at Welshpool airport, where I worked for flying time that allowed me to get my private pilot licence at 17 - I spent as much time as I could at the airport doing everything from fuelling and cleaning aircraft to cooking bacon rolls in the canteen, which probably also explains why my A-level results were so appalling. While I enjoy the flying side, I liked the business side more and that's what I aimed towards at university.
What are the best and worst aspects of the job?
I love the fact that I'm able to make a living out of something that I enjoy. I get to travel a great deal and I'm doing work that helps keep over 300 people employed - that's a good feeling. As a business we're very involved with a charity called www.fly2help.org, which helps keep my feet on the ground. Someone once said that for a manager 95% of a working day is the same as the one before, but the 5% that's different is what keeps you coming back. The worst bits are where you have a 95% day all day and you don't feel you've achieved anything.
What has been your biggest mistake?
Over 10 years ago, I sent one of our aircraft to an airport in France, which I'd stupidly forgotten to open. I can still remember the phone call from the London Area and Terminal Control Centre saying they'd had French air traffic control on the phone asking where we wanted it to go instead. It haunts me to this day, but it makes me aware of the importance of double checking everything - the knock-on effects of a silly mistake can hurt a business substantially.
What are the main trends and opportunities in your sector?
This is going to be a challenging year for the industry in general, but overall the trend in the business aviation is positive. It's important we spend time focusing on the significant benefits business aviation brings, the slight reduction in business gives us the opportunity to do that. The way the press and public responded to the "Big 3" car manufacturers in the USA was blinkered - nobody mentioned the fact that business aviation is one of the most productive tools to have.
What advice would you give a young person considering a career in business aviation?
Aviation in general is such a personal industry it's important to get your face known and get involved wherever you can. Throughout my career so far, no matter where I've worked, I've seen the same faces time and time again - the business cards change, but the people don't. The team I work with every day have all been involved in aviation since they were at school and that played a significant part in choosing them.
Describe a typical day
This is one of those jobs where nothing is typical. This morning I was finalising the management structure for one of our regional offices, and now I've got to oversee the implementation. Since June last year I've been heading the group's expansion into the Middle East, ensuring we're hitting the targets we've set ourselves and positioning the various parts of the business to respond to those demands. This afternoon I've been sorting out some of the legal sides of an aircraft management contract we're about to sign. Last week I was in Scotland meeting with airports about our ambulance operation (we provide the aircraft for the Scottish Ambulance Service Air Wing). When you join a growing small company, you are involved in very diverse areas of the business as the growth takes place, which means sometimes you end up doing work that in a larger organisation you might never encounter.
Source: Flight International