After more than 30 years in the South African Air Force Steve Bothma made the move to business aviation. He now heads the maintenance division for ExecuJet South Africa and is looking forward to football's World Cup in June
What sparked your interest in business and general aviation?
My love for aviation really stems from the extensive time spent on fighter squadrons in the South African Air Force. After 31 years I decided to call it a day and seek employment in the private sector. General aviation, and more specifically business aviation, was the closest association to the fast jet environment in the SAAF and therefore I selected this area to pursue my second career.
Bothma: putting his military experience to good use at ExecuJet
What does your job entail?
I am mainly responsible for running the maintenance division of ExecuJet South Africa. This division, among others, provides maintenance support to the charter and field-based operations of ExecuJet as well as providing maintenance services to numerous business aviation customers.
My daily tasks are mainly to evaluate the business efficiencies, monitor adherence to regulations and safety standards and ensure client satisfaction and the long-term sustainability of the maintenance capability
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
It is important that I keep the workforce motivated and happy as this ensures the highest level of service, which in turn keeps the customers satisfied. We have to be fast but precise at the same time. We promise to ensure the highest safety and quality standards but no-one wants to wait a long time for their aircraft to be checked and repaired.
How does your previous experience help your new role?
The military is an extremely regulated environment, so adherence to strict aviation regulations, policies and procedures comes naturally to me. Having said this, the private aviation section is structured differently and when dealing with clients from different nations and cultural backgrounds you have to be more service and people-oriented than in the military. Customer service is really important and in a globally acting company such as ExecuJet it is important we display the same level of service in all service areas and regions.
In your working life so far, what are you most proud of?
I am very proud to say that I represented my country as a military attaché in Canada. I am also looking forward to the forthcoming soccer World Cup.
It's not very often that you get to be involved with such a widely followed event. I am sure that even in these challenging conditions we, as ExecuJet, will prove that we are doing the best job possible.
What qualifications/skills do you need for your job?
You need an aircraft maintenance qualification and a good understanding of aircraft maintenance best practice and financial management. A senior management qualification is also recommended.
The best things about your job?
The work is very diverse, which keeps it interesting, I am also grateful to be surrounded by such a wonderful team.
And the worst?
Sometimes it can be very challenging to manage people and keep morale high, especially during difficult times.
What affect is the World Cup having on your business?
We are expecting a lot of visiting aircraft over this period, which will certainly place additional demands on our capabilities and facilities. We are currently negotiating with our customers to move all scheduled maintenance out of this period so we can free resources to be able to provide the required level of support to the visiting aircraft.
The World Cup event will give ExecuJet a lot of exposure that I hope will stand us in good stead for the years thereafter.