Jo Damato

Oct. 27, 2022

The industry’s efforts to diversify were the topic of a keynote talk given by Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA’s senior vice president of education, training and workforce development, at the recent National Training Aircraft Symposium at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Daytona Beach, FL.

“These events give us the opportunity to set the table with students and faculty, sharing business aviation and its mission, as well as the segment’s efforts to increase diversity and create inclusion cultures,” said Damato. “It’s also insightful to hear how other companies, particularly large ones, work to create an inclusive workforce and then realize how closely aligned we are in our goals in allowing aviation professionals to be their authentic selves throughout their careers.”

Presenters and attendees at the symposium, including faculty from a number of universities around the country and a broad range of industry representatives, shared thoughts on the overarching themes of diversity, sustainability and workforce development.

Damato also participated on a panel moderated by ERAU College of Aviation Professor and Director of Diversity Initiatives Michele Halleran, titled “Women’s Leadership: Working Toward Closing the Gender Equality Gap.” Key to Damato’s message on the panel was the importance of supporting women, who may also be caregivers, in leadership positions in aviation, a key piece of workforce retention.

The panelists pointed to the importance of training in softer skills, particularly for people who have a more technical or STEM-based education and might not already have skills related to emotional intelligence – crucial to both workforce development and retention.

Damato also shared the importance of mental wellness, describing a DOT Women in Aviation Advisory Board report’s recommendation to foster a culture that supports mental wellness.

The timing of the symposium, just days after the Orlando-based 2022 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), provided a unique opportunity for Damato to reach ERAU students at both the convention and then on their own campus. She said several students virtually introduced themselves to her before NBAA-BACE, sought her out to say hello in person at the show and then met up with her again at ERAU.

“It is so encouraging to see students reach out to us and take the initiative to talk with us at these events,” Damato said. “These are opportunities for industry representatives to be true ambassadors for business aviation so if you see students or younger professionals at events, be open and welcoming.”