How to Get Ahead in Business Aviation: Be Present and Prepared

Author By Steve Brechter
how to get ahead

As aviation students prepare for graduation at colleges throughout the country, many may be wondering how to get ahead once they start their business aviation careers. The same goes for more established aviation professionals further along in their careers.

By Pete Combs, Host, “NBAA’s Flight Plan”at the National Business Aviation Association


Steve Brechter, senior advisor for operations at NBAA Member Gray Stone Advisors, has provided some valuable advice in a blog post titled “Five Ways to Get Ahead in Business Aviation.” And NBAA’s Pete Combs, caught up with him recently to discuss some practical applications of his tips.

“Because flight departments are sometimes small and far from the core of the company’s main business, it’s often tough to get ahead,” Brechter says. “We’re off by ourselves and out of the mainstream. We need other, perhaps unconventional tactics, to advance our careers.”

Brechter suggests five ways to make that happen:

  1. Be present
  2. Be engaged beyond the core requirements of the job
  3. Be a leader both in thought and in the organization
  4. Be informed about the industry
  5. Be ready

“Of these, being ready is perhaps the most important,” Brechter notes. “Know where you’re headed. Every pilot files a flight plan for each trip. Have one for your career.”

Mentoring relationships are also great ways to get ahead in business aviation, he pointed out, calling the process one of the most effective ways to advance a young person’s career. But, he warned, that takes commitment on the parts of both mentor and mentee.

“The most important part is to be clear on the commitment required of both parties,” Brechter says.

For those who aspire to careers in aviation management, Brechter’s advice was specific and concise. “Be aligned with NBAA,” he offers. “It’s such a resource-laden world of opportunities.”

Brechter pointed to the Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) program as one example. “Certainly, if you aspire to being an aviation manager, that’s what you need to do,” he says. “Aviation managers of the new millennium are very different people than they were 20 or 30 years ago. The skill sets are very different.”

One reason for the differences, he suggests, is that corporations are much leaner now than they were in decades past. Resources that were there for earlier generations of aviation managers are no longer available.

“That’s why the CAM designation is so important,” Brechter says.

Extra effort, extra enthusiasm and extra knowledge are all part of the equation, he concluded. “You can’t expect someone to do this for you,” says Brechter. “You have to distinguish yourself by leaning forward and taking on responsibility. See and be seen.”