Oct. 14, 2021

Attracting enough young professionals (YoPros) into business aviation to meet workforce demand is one of the industry’s greatest challenges.

At the 2021 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) “Thought Leadership Session: Welcoming the Next Generation,” sponsored by Textron Aviation, young professionals in business aviation shared their perspectives on how to attract and retain new team members.

Alignment with company values, opportunities for upward mobility, feeling valued and a chance to learn and have new experiences are important to young professionals, the panelists said.

Textron Aviation’s Kriya Shortt moderated a panel of five of her company’s young professionals: Alexis Bennett, Thomas Dieker, Caleb Gibson, Sherman Steele and Devon Stein.

While some of the panelists have had a life-long love of aviation, others joined the industry from other fields. For Bennett, a summer internship in business development at Textron Aviation turned into a full-time job and an unexpected career in business aviation.

“What are the company’s values and can I commit myself and my career to those values?” Bennett said. Her internship provided her the opportunity to see those values in daily action before seeking a full-time position and committing to the company long-term.

Steele echoed those thoughts, saying the organization’s culture was important to him. Part of that culture is a focus on employees.

“The best part of my job is that I feel valued,” said Stein, who started her career in TV media. “I was looking for a place that didn’t look at me like a number.”

Gibson said he appreciates the diversity of the industry and the opportunity to solve problems. “No matter your title in business aviation, it should also include ‘creative problem solver,’” he said.

Panelists urged attendees to showcase the diversity of job opportunities within business aviation.

Dieker started flying at a young age, but was still surprised by the range of opportunities in business aviation, saying, “I never considered the vastness of the industry.

“People just don’t know these opportunities exist.”

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