In The News
As seen on the AINonline.com website.
The industry experts on the panel each postulated on the reasons why there is currently an imbalance in supply and demand.
Opening to a packed room at the NBAA Convention on Halloween eve is a feat in itself; to keep attendees’ attention for a full hour on such a busy day takes some meat. Sheryl Barden, president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International (API), moderated a panel of industry leaders who postulated their own theories for why we are currently forced to recruit aggressively to increase the pool of talented people from which to choose our next generation of aviators and aviation support staff throughout the world. The panel was composed of Kevin Hiatt, COO of the Flight Safety Foundation; Guy Smith, past president of the University Aviation Association; Mark Malkosky, assistant director for maintenance business development with FlightSafety International; Dan Woodard, chief pilot for Conoco Phillips; Lonnie Robinson, chairman of Aviation Career Enrichment and a captain with US Airways; and Cassandra Shelby, past president of Women in Corporate Aviation and an international captain with Coca-Cola. Barden opened the session with a quote from the chair of the Flight Safety Foundation. She said, “The future shortage of trained aviation professionals will be the greatest threat to aviation safety. But many say, after this recent downturn, ‘We’ve been hearing about this for years–it’s like Chicken Little.’” Yet competition for recruiting and selecting well-qualified aviation professionals is heating up, according to Barden. That stated, Barden picked her panelists’ brains with who, what, where, why and how questions on crafting solutions for flight and maintenance departments that are searching to replace experienced and soon-to-retire employees. The industry experts on the panel each postulated on the reasons why there is currently an imbalance in supply and demand. Kevin Hiatt pointed out that the typical pilot graduating from a university aviation program has 300 to 500 hours of flight experience, whereas the typical 21-year-old college-educated male has an average of 17,000 hours of video/computer gaming experience by the end of his college career. And those are the students with the hand-eye coordination for the jobs in our industry. Airline pilots who would have retired at 60 are now reaching their “life limit” five years after the rule was enacted, and first officers with regional airlines will need an ATP beginning next year, so demand for qualified pilots is set to increase soon. Guy Smith explained how students are being educated for and recruited into aviation by a team of 105 different colleges and universities, but he admitted to the group that these graduates are not typically qualified for the careers that are opening up. Worse, the ones who backed up their aviation aspirations with technical degrees, such as in computers or engineering or IT, are more likely to get high-paying jobs in those fields than in aviation–at least for the time being. Mark Malkosky backed him up about the issues that companies have recruiting talented, ethical and experienced maintenance personnel. Conoco-Phillips’s Dan Woodard said his company is addressing its need for qualified relief pilots by creating an internship program. To date, the company has brought on one type-rated, low-time pilot for a test, and took him along as a “cruise pilot” on an around-the-world trip. Though he never took off or landed the airplane, he logged a whole lot of Gulfstream G550 time as second-in-command, and that, at his level of experience, is priceless. Woodard hopes that the internship program will become an affordable way for the flight department to “grow” new pilots for the company. Lonnie Robinson and Cassandra Shelby touched on the benefits and, in this day and age, necessity of reaching out to populations that haven’t typically aspired to aviation careers, pointing out that raising awareness of the opportunities in aviation is key to increasing diversity in the industry.
Five years ago, experts called the coming shortage of trained aviation professionals “the greatest threat to aviation safety,” but then the recession struck. “So the problem kind of went away for a while,” said Sheryl Barden, president of Aviation Personnel International, in a session on Oct. 31 at NBAA2012. “Many people still say, ‘Will it ever really come to pass?’” “It will” was the consensus of a panel of flight department leaders and aviation educators at the session titled “Addressing the Declining Aviation Talent Pool,” but only with support from the industry.
Why the Shortage?The improving economy, decline in graduates from flight schools and airframe and powerplant (A&P) courses, and global growth in aviation is creating a ‘perfect storm’ of rising demand and tightening supply. “Certain factors came in to mitigate [the shortage],” said Kevin Hiatt of the Flight Safety Foundation, “but now those have pretty well played out. For one, the airlines’ Age 65 rule is finally coming to an end. Plus, next summer, the 1,500-hour rule will come into effect for first officers on regional air carriers.” There’s also lower turnover today from the U.S. military, and pay in aviation is becoming less competitive. The shortage is just as evident for maintenance technicians. Enrollment in A&P schools has dropped and A&P graduates are leaving aviation for other industries. “Today’s cars have high-tech components like modern aircraft, so the automotive industry is attractive to the aircraft technician, and to be honest with you, the pay is attractive,” said Mark Malkosky of FlightSafety International.
Creative Solutions“Unfortunately, when you look at the demand for pilots and maintenance technicians, they’re not met by our graduates,” said Guy Smith of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University Aviation Association (UAA).“So we’re looking for some ways to bridge that gap.” While UAA schools focus on more than just technical training – including business ethics, working in teams and communication skills – they need support from the industry. Smith encouraged more business aviation professionals to get involved in the industry advisory councils at their local aviation schools, which tend to be dominated by airline representatives. The panelists also encouraged flight departments to create internships for aviation students. ConocoPhillips, for example, created a Cruise Pilot Internship Program “where interns get to fly whenever the airplane is in cruise flight,” said ConocoPhillips’ Dan Woodard. “And we get them takeoffs and landings when we don’t have passengers on board.” By getting creative with programs like this, flight departments can make big investments in talent without investing a lot of money.
Focus on DiversityGiven the talent shortage, Barden said it was more important than ever for aviation employers to attract the best candidates from all backgrounds. Currently, only 3.29 percent of air transport pilots are women, and less than 1 percent are African American. Women often say they enjoy the close-knit team environment in many flight departments, said Cassandra Shelby, a pilot with Coca-Cola and former president of Women in Corporate Aviation International. However, business aviation provides women less career stability than the airlines, she said, “because sometimes flight departments merge and sometimes they close down.” The number one reason more African Americans don’t enter business aviation, according to Lonnie Robinson of Aviation Career Enrichment, is that they “just don’t know about the opportunities.” Getting the message out about business aviation, not just for women and African Americans but for everyone, “is something each of us in our companies must do,” Barden said.
For more information about NBAA resources for students, visit:
SAN FRANCISCO - June 2012 - Sheryl Barden, President and CEO of Aviation Personnel International (APIaviation.com), has accepted the nomination to join the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) Associate Member Advisory Council, which is made up of representatives from NBAA member companies that provide products and services to the international business aviation community. “The Associate Member Advisory Council (AMAC) is about providing good council and advice to the NBAA Board of Directors and we feel privileged to welcome Sheryl Barden of Aviation Personnel International (API),” says Jay Mesinger, Chairman of the NBAA Associate Member Advisory Council, NBAA Board Member and President and CEO of J. Mesinger Corporate Jet Sales, Inc. “Her vast background in leadership and aviation human resources is an essential component to the information needs of the Board.” As the head of the longest-running business aviation recruiting business, Barden utilizes her extensive background in employee search, screening and coaching to fulfill her clients' human resource consulting needs. A business aviation flight department recruiting expert for more than 20 years, she is a frequent guest speaker and contributor for industry organizations such as NBAA, Flight Safety Foundation and Women in Corporate Aviation. In addition to joining the NBAA Associate Member Advisory Council; Barden is the 2012/13 President of the International Women's Forum of Northern California as well as a member of the International Aviation Womens Association and Women in Corporate Aviation. From 2006-2012, she served as a member of the NBAA Corporate Aviation Management Committee. “Aviation is not an airplane business, it is a people business and Sheryl is the best in our field for staffing solutions,” Mesinger says. “Her company reputation as well as her personal reputation is the industry standard. She has set the bar!” Barden earned a B.S. in Management with an emphasis in Personnel Management from the Pennsylvania State University and a MBA from the McLaren School of Business at the University of San Francisco. For more information about Barden and API, please visit the API website. To view other AMAC members, visithttps://web.nbaa.org/about/leadership/committees/amac/.
UAA JANICE K. BARDEN AVIATION SCHOLARSHIP Through the UAA Janice K. Barden Aviation Scholarship, NBAA Charities annually awards $1,000 to each of five undergraduates studying aviation-related curricula at NBAA and University Aviation Association (UAA) member institutions. This scholarship is named for Janice Barden, who has been active in the aviation community for decades and has served as chair of the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition Local Committee more than any other person in NBAA history. Awards will be made to U.S. citizens without regard to sex, race, religion or national origin. Scholarships will be awarded by spring 2016, and checks will be made payable to the school. Scholarship recipients must use the funds by Dec. 31, 2016, or risk forfeit of the award. Applicant must be a full-time undergraduate student (sophomore or higher) enrolled in an aviation-related two-year or four-year degree program at an NBAA and University Aviation Association (UAA) member institution with a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale. A completed application form must be accompanied by one essay, one transcript, one resume and one letter of recommendation. See application form for details. For all NBAA scholarships, applicants are limited to receiving one award per person, per year. Direct all questions about this application to NBAA's Tyler Austin at (202) 783-9267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business aviation hiring is expected to increase substantially in 2012, according to several firms specializing in aviation jobs placement. The job gains may be greatest for those in aircraft avionics and maintenance, although the number of pilot jobs also is expected to be higher. These positive prognoses are a further sign of the improving climate for business aviation, and support predictions that the industry will see a modest upturn this year. “I think our survey pretty much indicates that it will be a positive year,” said Sam Scanlon of JSfirm.com, an online aviation job distribution network. In mid-February, the firm reported that 85 percent of companies responding to its annual Aviation Industry Hiring Trends survey expected to hire more workers in 2012, with most of that activity coming in the first two quarters of the year. The survey covers a variety of aviation sectors, including rotorcraft, general aviation and commercial aviation. Scanlon said the JSfirm.com survey shows the hiring gains will be fairly evenly split among all sectors. Respondents included businesses of all sizes, from major manufacturers to small operators, and included companies in all industry segments. Scanlon and executives from other aviation staffing agencies say the hiring climate actually began improving last year. “At the very beginning of 2011, we started to see additional headcounts turning,” said Sheryl Barden, president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, an aviation recruiting firm that exclusively serves the hiring needs of flight departments in business aviation. “Now, we’re starting to see flight departments replace retirements, fix people problems within their departments and add employees.” Last year, companies also started positioning themselves for an expected market upturn by hiring more executives. “Management searches for us doubled in 2011 versus 2010,” said Grayson Barrows, director of sales at Aviation Search Group, an aviation management recruiting firm with a focus on business aviation. “Folks are looking for game-changers; people who will come in and alter the budget, create new services and build new teams. We expect to see that trend continue in 2012. It’s not slowing down by any means.” Amid all this positive news, however, is a growing concern that employers may have a difficult time finding qualified people, especially to fill more technical jobs requiring a higher level of training and industry experience. “If you look at all the data, we’re going to be woefully short of trained talent,” Barden said. “It takes a long time to train someone in some of these jobs, and it takes a lot of money.” This shortage could be especially severe in the area of maintenance, due largely to what Barden said is a changing dynamic in the segment where today’s aviation technician works as much with a computer as with a wrench. “We’re competing with an entire industry of technology for that talent,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re not bringing enough people into maintenance to support us. We’re going to have a serious gap. We already do.” Scanlon added that the growing need for experienced, qualified employees extends to other job disciplines, and is the primary driver for the dramatic increases in postings JSfirm.com has seen on its website this year. “It has been extremely busy on our jobs board; I mean busier than it’s ever been,” he said, adding that indications are the jobs gains will continue well beyond next year.
As seen in the NBAA Business Aviation Insider publication.Many flight departments are led by directors with decades of experience. They've earned the trust of their teams and they run efficient operations with excellent safety records. But what happens when they retire? "A certain number of people can create high-performing organizations for a short period of time, but when they leave, the organization declines," said Randy Hudon, who ran BellSouth's flight department for many years and has watched four members of his former team go on to become directors themselves. "To sustain a high-performing organization, you have to build bench strength," said Hudon, now president and CEO of Aviation Leadership Group. "You have to move beyond seniority-based leadership and develop leaders who have the skills to sustain the organization." As the flight department gains more visibility and the regulatory environment continues to shift, companies are looking more and more for strategic business leaders who understand aviation, rather than the most senior operations person. Focusing on succession planning is critical to ensure the department has the leadership to be effective into the future.
Shoes to Fill: Does Your Flight Operation Have a Succession Plan?
More Than Anointing a SuccessorSuccession planning is about investing in your people. "It's important to focus on succession planning because it's always best to promote from within," said Sheryl Barden, president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, a recruiting firm specializing in business aviation. "It provides continuity of culture, values and institutional knowledge." Promoting from within also demonstrates there's room to grow for everyone in the flight department. "You can always go outside and hire good talent," said Kent Ramquist, flight operations manager and chief pilot at American Family Insurance. "But if your people in-house are ready, then you can hand it over to somebody who knows the culture and the operation." Barden points out that promoting from within and looking outside for talent can work hand-in-hand. "If the company does a national search and still chooses the candidate from inside the flight department, that candidate gets a huge validation," said Barden. Aviation directors who excel at developing their people know that there's a lot involved in succession planning. "There's a difference between a succession plan and anointing a successor," said Barden. "Your organization should have more than one person to choose from to fill a vacancy. If you only develop one person and for whatever reason they choose to leave your organization, then where are you?"
Identify Talent, Aspiration, EngagementA succession plan is often a brief document that a company's human resources (HR) department will ask aviation directors to develop. Almost always the plan is not just about who will replace the director, but who is ready to step into each management role within the department, including the chief pilot, manager of maintenance and scheduling manager posts. "We use a form HR has developed to evaluate our people on three areas of readiness," said Ramquist. "Do they have the talent? Do they have the aspiration? And are they already emotionally engaged? We look at that annually with HR because maybe someone has come into focus since last year who we weren't previously looking at." For flight department professionals to be ready for leadership, they need to be continually developing new skills. "The whole key is not just succession planning but development," said Barden. Bill Shaw, Sprint's director of flight operations, agrees: "We have a requirement that everyone on the team accomplish one professional development activity per quarter," said Shaw. A long-term succession plan for all the management roles in the flight department actually begins before team members are even hired. As Hudon explained: "It's about getting the right people on the bus. For example, if you need to bring on a scheduler and your department is weak on financial skills, look for someone with financial acumen in addition to scheduling and dispatch skills." As Shaw sees it, recruiting, professional development and succession planning are all tied together. "Directors have to take a long view," said Shaw. "When hiring a line pilot, consider the skills he or she will need to step up to be the next chief pilot. The next chief pilot or maintenance manager should have the foundational skills to eventually replace the director."
Create Stretching OpportunitiesThere are many different ways to engage aviation personnel in professional development. Among the most common is enabling employees to attend industry and NBAA events, as well as to participate in the Association's Professional Development Program and On-Demand Education online courses. Many directors also work with their employees to create plans for pursuing continuing education, such as an MBA or university aviation courses, or studying for NBAA's Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) credential. Professional development doesn't have to be expensive; Shaw has found that by sending employees to sponsored leadership-training events, nearly the whole department can participate. "In a period of serious budget constraints, you have to be creative," said Shaw. "Many companies have great internal training programs. For example, we have 'Sprint University,' with courses in HR, finance, supply chain management and computer skills." In fact, the most important things a director can do to develop people cost nothing and are available everyday. Ramquist emphasizes the importance of giving each team member "management stretching opportunities," such as working with company staff outside the flight department on a special project. "One of my pilots was on a cross-functional environmental sustainability team, and it gave him great visibility within the company," said Ramquist, who has also assigned one of his pilots to head the department's International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations Stage 2 audit process for 2012. Directors also recommend delegating budget preparation to a scheduler or chief pilot, which gives them the opportunity to work with the company's finance department, or assigning the maintenance manager to work with the legal team on updating the fleet plan. Creating those opportunities is essential to succession planning, because they're the tasks employees will eventually take on when it's time to step up. "Because I've invested in my team's potential, I know I've got somebody in place who can take over without a hiccup," said Ramquist. "I know I can leave the flight department in good hands."
For More InformationNBAA offers several professional development resources that can help your team prepare for management roles and develop their leadership skills, including On-Demand Education webinars , the NBAA Leadership Conference and the NBAA Certified Aviation Manager program.
API Founder Janice K. Barden was among the first female professionals in business aviationOct. 2011 – In 1971, Federal Express, Amtrak and more than 25 air carriers, including Southwest Airlines, were considered startups. That was also the same year that Janice K. Barden benefited from her 16 years as a professional aviation psychologist to create her own startup— Aviation Personnel International, the first female owned and operated retained search firm designed exclusively to serve the hiring needs of private and business aviation professionals. “Since joining NBAA as member No. 173, I developed a battery of psychological tests and helped at least two generations of aviation professionals propel their careers forward,” Janice K. Barden, Founder and Chairman of Aviation Personnel International (www.APIaviation.com). I'm especially proud of the hundreds of meticulously vetted candidates who’ve made such a positive impact on private and corporate aviation, making it stronger, safer and more professional. It has truly been a privilege to witness the level of talent as well as the hiring process mature these past 40 years.” On the business/corporate side, today’s aviation organizations are becoming more supported by all levels of the organization—from human resources (HR) and finance to security and risk management. The API (www.APIaviation.com) team builds relationships with aviation and HR hiring authorities. “Not only do we see HR professionals coming to API to tap into our broad portfolio of carefully screened candidates, they rely on us for our four decades of aviation expertise,” says Sheryl Barden, President and CEO of API. “As anyone in the industry knows, it’s a whole different ballgame when a company is faced with hiring an aviation professional who spends a significant portion of their ‘day at the office’ within earshot of top officials—not to mention, they may be required to depart at all times of the day, month and year—including holidays.” For aviation organizations in need of staffing assistance, visit here and for aviation professionals who are seeking career opportunities, visit here and apply to become an API Registered Professional.