Getting Involved in the Business Aviation Industry: Why Bother?

Author By Jim Lara

In the business aviation industry, many of us grapple with how to keep up with the avalanche of new ideas, technical developments and regulatory requirements coming at us every day. But if we choose not to keep up, we’re at risk of becoming obsolete in a very short period of time, and that time frame is getting shorter every day.

And when we become obsolete, our value becomes rapidly diminished as a professional in the business aviation community, which spells big trouble on the employment front!

Unfortunately, most flight departments are resource-constrained when it comes to staff headcount, so we are all hard pressed just to accomplish our mission at hand.

The trap, of course, is that sometimes we become inwardly focused, or isolated, to a fault.

We begin to very gradually lose track of what is going on around us and, before you know it, we’re now completely isolated from the parent company and the industry.

How to Stay Relevant in Business Aviation

So, let’s assume that you do not want to become obsolete. Let’s also assume that you have a good work/life balance. Now, you suddenly realize that staying relevant could almost become a full-time job. It’s tough to try and maintain a sane balance between your personal life and professional pursuits.

Here are a few of my personal reflections, along with some approaches to remaining relevant, for you to consider:

  • Continue to grow. If you ever stop developing, growing and improving, you will be professionally irrelevant –and fast! What you learned yesterday was just that…yesterday’s news. To compete in today’s world, you have to be ready for tomorrow.
  • Get involved. How do you focus on only those things that will do you the most good? Try getting involved in local, national and niche professional aviation groups. There are various trade organizations available such as National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transport Association, Flight Safety Foundation, Professional Association of Maintenance and Women in Corporate Aviation to name a few. Many associations also offer face-to-face networking meetings, professional development seminars and roundtables as well as online classes. Keep in mind, though, that these opportunities consume time and money—both of which are usually in very short supply!
  • Reconnect. Leverage business-networking tools, such as LinkedIn, to connect and reconnect with aviation professionals. You never know who you’ll run into from your past who could help you in the present or future. LinkedIn allows you to write references for others and, in turn, ask for a reference/testimonial for a job well done.
  • Volunteer. Another way to stay current is to volunteer for Committee work. There are several NBAA Committees and regional aviation groups looking for both leaders and doers. Giving back will help you improve your leadership skills and help enhance your personal and professional brand.
  • Reach out. Take advantage of the folks around you in your own organization as well as those you may know in other firms who are operating the same type of equipment you are. Call them and start a conversation, particularly those who you view as industry leaders. Pick a specific topic for discussion based on something you really want to know more about. Be clear that you would like to have a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas about this specific topic. At the end of that first conversation, invite them to query you on a topic of interest to them about which you might be seen as a subject matter expert.
  • Take advantage. If you are a member of a larger organization, ask your department leadership about every possible development opportunity available. Without a doubt, they will be aware of more opportunities that would have ever come to your attention if you didn’t ask. Get them on your side, looking out for your best Interests and take advantage of every development opportunity you can.
  • Team up. Assign each person in your department to read an aviation periodical cover to cover, and then share what is relevant. That way, everyone on the team is well-read and in-the-know.

Avoid the Slow Boil Effect

Remember the story of the frog that was placed into a pot of water that was boiling so slowly on the stove that the frog was cooked and didn’t realize what was happening? The same thing holds true in a business aviation department. And one only needs to replace the frog analogy with being left behind in the dust and becoming nearly irrelevant in the eyes of the rest of the organization.

Why Bother?

At the end of the day, why bother getting involved outside of your flight department? Simply put, you don’t want to avoid the slow boil effect. You surely don’t want to get left in the dust. After all, increasing your networking skills and current knowledge base will only help solidify your professional survival and ongoing prosperity!