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CEO Sheryl Barden to Celebrate 45 Years in Aviation, Lead Recruitment Panel at NBAA’s BACE 

ORLANDO – Oct. 31, 2016 – 2016 has been a banner year for Aviation Personnel International (API), marking 45 years in aviation. API was then and today remains a trailblazer: the company happens to be the first female owned and operated staffing services firm that was exclusively founded to serve the hiring needs of private and business aviation professionals.

Sheryl Barden, API’s President and CEO, celebrated the company’s anniversary by reflecting on the past 45 years. She noted some of the more significant developments that she and her API staff have observed and, in many cases, been a part of. “When you take the time to sit back and examine the entire scope of this niche business through the years,” Barden commented, “you realize that there have been some remarkable changes, and I’m not just talking about technological advances—the entire philosophy of business aviation has undergone a transformation.”

Barden added that API has been an agent for some very positive changes in the industry. “No longer do aviation employees stay with one company for their entire career,” she explained. “It’s often the case that people move every two to five years, which is why finding the right cultural fit has become so important. Attracting new talent and rewarding them appropriately have become more difficult. Aviation departments need to find new ways to keep their team members feeling valued via development opportunities, cross-functional training and the opportunity to grow into a new role.” Aimed at this challenge, Sheryl Barden will lead a leadership-focused panel in the “Innovation Zone” on Nov. 1 during NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE).

She also reflected on the July 31 passing of her mother, Janice Barden, and the tremendous contributions she made to the industry in her many decades of service to it. In fact, Janice’s legacy will be honored this November 3rd, at the NBAA Careers in Business Aviation Day, during a special event for students attending the NBAA-BACE.

“I am immeasurably proud of the lifelong accomplishments and impact that my mother has had in the lives of professionals working in business aviation,” Sheryl Barden said.

Following are some of the more notable industry developments Barden cited. They include (in no particular order of importance):

  • Until 10 or 15 years ago, business aircraft were primarily used to transport executives from point A to point B, but passengers then enjoyed a much more glamorous experience than is customary today. (It was often considered a company “perk.”) Nowadays, flying privately is much more about providing a safe and secure means of giving passengers time to be more productive while they’re in the air. Flying is regarded as a competitive tool that enables executives to meet customers, make deals quickly and/or reach multiple remote locations within a single day.
  • Diversity is a much bigger concern, especially from an HR standpoint. More women and other, diverse candidates are in the market, but it’s still quite a low percentage overall. More and more, flight departments are expanding their hiring horizons, and welcoming people of all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual orientations.
  • There’s a bigger emphasis on aviation leaders and pilots having a college degree and bringing more business skills to leadership roles. It’s very common for aviation directors to now have MBAs and CAM certifications, and they’re not flying as much as they’re managing a business within a business. These high-level professionals are working more frequently with their partners at headquarters, developing fleet plans and making strategic decisions. They’re also required to recruit a diverse team and help them grow.
  • Flight departments that have been around for multiple decades are now merging with other companies, and some notable departments have closed their doors entirely. Outsourcing to aircraft management companies is a popular option as well as choosing to use “supplemental lift” partners with charter and fractional aircraft operators. To assist with closures and/or layoffs, API’s “Your Best Foot Forward™” outplacement service has been instrumental in helping outgoing aviation professionals get the career guidance needed to move on to the next opportunity.


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