Sheryl Barden and co-panelists at JETNET iQ Summit 2019

It was quite an honor to be invited to be a panelist at the 9th Annual JETNET iQ Summit* in New York.

It was my first time attending, but it won’t be my last.

The panel I participated on was entitled, simply, “Industry Talent.” The informative session was moderated by Rolland Vincent, who is the JETNET iQ Summit Co-Chair as well as the iQ creator and director.

My co-panelists included Joseph Barber, Vice President of Fleet Development for Clay Lacy Aviation; Steve Gade, Duncan Aviation’s VP of Marketing and New Business Development; and Debbie Mercer-Irwin, President of Wright Brothers Aircraft.

The discussion touched on some critically important issues that all of us in business aviation are facing.

Following are a few of the more pertinent points that were raised:

  • Do we have a talent gap in business aviation? And if so, what’s being done, and what else needs doing?
  • Where are bizav companies succeeding and/or failing in the hunt for talent?
  • How are the needs of younger generations different from those that preceded them?
  • How do we avoid burnout among our best and brightest?
  • When is enough (compensation) enough? How do we prepare for another day when pilots will “fly for food”?
  • How do we bring much more diverse talent into our industry?



Sheryl Barden of Aviation Personnel International speaks at JETNET IQ 2019


Some of my own takeaways from the JETNET iQ Summit panel discussion:


Create a Sticky Workplace

Attracting quality new hires during the current talent shortage is proving difficult. Therefore, my co-panelists and I discussed the need to focus on retention as a means to encourage key employees to stay put. That means fostering and maintaining a good culture within the flight department.

We addressed the need to make the workplace “sticky,” and to increase employee engagement. Then you can turn your focus on recruitment.

To learn ways to create a sticky culture, you may enjoy this blog.


Understand the “Marathon Mentality”

One of my co-panelists, Joe Barber, shared a “marathon vs. sprint” analogy that I found rather fascinating. He talked about how many professionals in his peer group (Generation X) seem to view retirement in a far different way than previous generations. (Of course, we all like the idea of retiring at 65 and having 20 more years or so of enjoyable life). But, after seeing generations before them struggle with corporate pensions going away and 401k’s being depleted, it gives younger generations pause. And it has them setting their expectations to be working well into their late 60s or early 70s. That’s a “marathon mentality.”

It’s probably a safe bet that members of every generation have entered the workforce with high energy, but the millennials and Gen Z are stereotyped as being more impulsive. Many have short attention spans due to the pace of technology. The paradox is that they’ll likely be in the workforce for 45-50 years, and that’s truly a marathon!

(View a blog on millennials in business aviation).


Attract Diversity by Showing Diversity

Another key point was discussion on attracting diversity. The takeaway was that to achieve diversity you need to show diversity. Many companies have seen success by bringing in a diverse group of interview panelists, from a range of backgrounds within the organization. Why? It helps diverse candidates to feel more comfortable, and gives them someone to identify with—whether it’s a female executive, a member of the LGBTQ community or a person of color. Even if you do not have a diverse team, per se, it’s likely that you do have it within the ranks of your company.  

As Steve Gade pointed out, “Diversity numbers shoot up for the good when there are more diverse interview panels in the interviewing process.” I believe he’s right.

(You might like this post on hiring for diversity and this one on LGBTQ in aviation).


Valuable Experience

All in all, in the wake of having attended recent industry events, I’m reminded again how important it is to get out of my usual work environment. I really do enjoying meeting and sharing ideas with aviation colleagues from far and wide. There’s simply no way to put a dollar value on the investment, because, like the well-known credit card commercial describes it, the experience is “priceless.”

Try it yourself!




*About the JETNET iQ Summit

Each JETNET iQ Summit feature speakers and panelists representing a virtual “who’s who” of business aviation—experts with unique perspectives on the industry’s present and future. They include analysts, bankers, brokers, wealth consultants, attorneys, sales and marketing leaders and C-level executives.

Summits are conveniently scheduled to allow members to attend the New York City-area NBAA Regional Forum as well. A limited number of seats for each Summit ensures a dynamic, fast-paced exchange of ideas, crucial networking opportunities and a committed, informed audience.


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