The competition for trained aviation talent gets tougher every day, and the importance of attracting and developing the Next-Generation of business aviation professionals can’t be overstated. After all, these “Millennials” are individuals who—like the baby boomers before them—will one day lead the workforce in the U.S. and other countries.

That’s why, on November 17, at the upcoming NBAA2015 conference in Las Vegas, I will be moderating a panel discussion entitled “Attract and Retain Next-Gen Talent in Business Aviation.”

It will be focused precisely on what everyone in the business aviation industry can do to identify, attract and retain the “best and brightest” among this next generation of professionals.

From 10:30 to noon PST on that Tuesday,,business aviation hiring managers and others will hear from a panel of energetic young professionals—from dispatch to maintenance to the flight deck—who will discuss their particular, “Millennial-oriented” experiences and expectations relating to job searches, internships, mentoring, cross-functional training, compensation, work-life balance and more.

Just Who are “Millennials”?

First, let’s make sure we understand what and whom we’re talking about: “Millennials,” also known as the “Millennial Generation” or “Generation Y,” is simply the name given to the demographic “slice” of Americans who were born from 1980 to the mid 1990’s and reached young adulthood around the year 2000. They’re thought of as the grouping that follows “Generation X.” Suffice it to say, that the Millennials are surging in large numbers into the American workforce, which is why we need to focus some attention on them.

According to BridgeWorks, the website that focuses on generational workforce dynamics, in just five years, 50 percent of the American workforce will be comprised of “Millennials,” and—even more notable—by 2025 they will account for 75 percent of the global workforce.

The Millennial “Mindset”

I’ve organized and moderated a lot of panel discussions on numerous topics in our industry, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited as I am to be involved with this one, on the Millennial generation and its implications in the workforce.

First of all, there are a lot of misperceptions about Millennials; we often mischaracterize them based on what we read and hear in the media.

Listening to hard-working members of this demographic group describe all the issues surrounding their movement through the workforce will give everyone the opportunity to better understand Millennials and what they stand for.

We’ll all learn things that we might not now realize, or maybe some things that we already know but simply don’t want to believe or deal with. I also think that we’re going to hear some really valuable commentary about what makes this group tick, and what these young professionals need to stay engaged and motivated in the workplace.

I am confident that the panel will open up some dialogue to better help us integrate members of the millennial workforce into our organizations. After all, these are our future leaders. This is our future. And, again, contrary to a lot of misguided public opinion, this is a group that is extremely savvy, technologically astute, fun, high energy and—yes—hardworking.

As leaders and managers in our industry, we simply need to understand how to effectively tap into and unlock the best of what the Millennial generation has to offer us, and then learn how to continue to motivate its members for their own advancement and that of our industry.

As I hope we’ll all learn during the panel discussion, the Millennials have a different mindset, a unique “head” and “space.” Thanks to their focus on social media and other contemporary forces, they are far more connected in a global and socially conscious sense.

What we will hope to learn is how we can leverage that tremendous talent and connectivity and parlay it into their own, and ultimately our, success. It will be extremely gratifying to hear what they have to say about their idea of mentorship, for example, because, as I know, at least one of our young panelists is doing reverse mentoring in her organization.

The Panelists

Speaking of our panelists, I’m happy to report that all of them are excited and honored to participate in this important event. As it happens, their bosses handpicked them to speak to the industry. I know that they’ll bring tremendous—almost kinetic—energy to the panel.

They’re certainly a diverse panel, too, so I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce them and say a little bit about their backgrounds. Ranging in age from 23 to 32, they include:

Catrina Capistrant, 31

With more than 3,250 flight hours, Catrina is one of the more “mobile” young professionals, having worked as a corporate pilot for three Part 91 flight departments in the past four years. Just last month, she left her post as Captain at the Chicago-based Exelon Corporation for the same position at the Oakland, California-based Visa Inc. From 2011-14, Catrina was a pilot for KeyCorp in Cleveland, Ohio, where she served as the flight department’s representative for the Ohio Regional Business Aviation Association (ORBAA), Women in Corporate Aviation (WCA) and Women in Aviation (WAI). She also cofounded the WAI-Cleveland Chapter and was its vice president from 2013-14. Catrina holds a BS from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a MBA, with a focus in aviation, from Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire. She’s also been a flight instructor and Captain at the Part 135 charter operator, Memley Aviation, based in Fresno, Calif.

Kevin Flynn, 31

Kevin has more than a decade of experience working in corporate and military aircraft maintenance and operations. Most recently, he was promoted from Flight Engineer to the Director of Maintenance for AbbVie, a Chicago-based biopharmaceutical company. Prior to AbbVie (a spinoff of Abbott Laboratories), Kevin was a G550 Crew Chief/Avionics Technician at Gulfstream Aerospace Company, located at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He also worked as a contract Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) technician for Bombardier Aerospace, in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and did the same for MidCoast Aviation in Bedford, Massachusetts. His service in the Air Force, from 2003-2007, really shaped his aviation career before he started in corporate aviation as a line service technician for Jet Aviation, also in Bedford, Mass. In 2012, Kevin earned his MBA in Aviation from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. He also graduated from the same university in 2009 with a BS in Aviation Maintenance Management. He holds a NCATT Aircraft Electronic Technician certification, FAA Inspection Authorization license and an FAA A&P license.

Ben Janaitis, 31

Based in New Castle, Delaware, Ben has worked as an Aircraft Technician at DuPoint Aviation since 2013. Prior to that, he was an A&P mechanic at six aircraft operators, including Penobscot Island Air, in Owl’s Head, Maine, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Socata North America Trans Am Aviation, EPIC Aviation, and Euro-American School of Aviation. In 2009, Ben earned his A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, in Daytona Beach, Florida, and earlier, in 2006, he graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Social Work from the University of Maine. Ben also holds a NCATT Aircraft Electronics Technician certification and is a private pilot with endorsements in High Altitude, High Performance and Complex Aircraft.

Jeremy Leonard, 23

The youngest member of our panel, Jeremy is an aspiring corporate pilot and leader. After a year flying a Lear 35 and 55 for ATI Jet, Inc., a Part 135 operator based in El Paso, Texas, he became a First Officer for PenAir, Alaska’s second largest commuter airline, operating an extensive scheduled passenger and cargo service, as well as charter and medevac services. Jeremy is also a flight instructor for the University of Alaska in Anchorage, and was a paid intern for both SkyWest Airlines in St. George, Utah, and for the NBAA in their Washington, DC office. In 2013, Jeremy earned a BA in international business from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has an ATP license, works part-time as a flight instructor and has flown more than 1,800 hours.

Jeff Measamer, 32

For the past four years, Jeff Measamer has worked for the Delaware-based DuPont flight department where he started as a pilot and was then promoted to Captain. From 2008-11, Jeff was a Gulfstream simulator co-pilot for FlightSafety International in Wilmington, Delaware. He has also spent time as a contract pilot for various Part 135 and 91 organizations. His first job in aviation was as a reserve pilot for Co-Op Aircraft Services in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he provided local air traffic reports for a radio station. Jeff has logged more than 4,750 total flight hours, and holds a BA in Aviation Management from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Shannon Roth, 28

Shannon is the Flight Scheduling & Dispatch Manager for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, based in San Jose, California. Since joining HP in 2010 as a paid intern, Shannon progressed to a full-time employee and currently leads the flight operations team with insourced international trip handling and flight planning. She previously held roles within travel security and dispatch as well as weather services for a Part 141 flight school. Shannon is a certified commercial pilot, flight instructor and has completed Corporate Air Parts Emergency Crewmember training and Air Training International’s International Flight Operations training. She is a member of the Jeppesen Business Aviation Customer Advisory Board and volunteers for the Northern California Business Aviation Association (NCBAA), where she serves on the Mentoring Committee and Scholarship Selection Committee. Shannon has a BS in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she graduated magna cum laude. She is also a recipient of the UAA Janice K. Barden Scholarship and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, specializing in automation efficiency and process improvement.

More About Millennials . . .

All in all, the NBAA2015 panel is going to be an exciting educational experience for everyone who attends this exceptional event, and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing many of my friends and colleagues at the session.

For even more in-depth information on this all-important topic, please take a look our blog on job search tips and recommendations for Millennials.

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