Preparing to Move From Team Member to Manager

July 8, 2019

Career advancement requires motivation and knowledge.

Whether you just landed a job with an aviation operation or have been in the industry or with a single organization for a while, the following three career-related questions eventually arise:

  • How long do I want to stay in my current job?
  • Should I attempt to move up within the ranks of this company?
  • Or should I use my current job as a stepping-stone to a higher-level position in another organization?

Finding the right answers might be difficult, but few individuals want to stay where they are indefinitely. Initially, some people are pleased to have just landed a job, but eventually the thought of growing within the job, advancing within the organization or moving to another company arises.

So how do you prepare to transition to the next stage of your career?

Experts say the first step in moving on to bigger and better things is to ensure that you excel at your current job. This means that you must become as good as you can be as the most junior technician, scheduler, pilot or flight attendant; just being adequate won’t cut it.

To master at your current job, you must fully integrate into your organizational niche – be curious, ask questions, request additional training, volunteer to become an expert in certain facets of your job.
Once confident in all aspects of your job, seek to go beyond its boundaries, learning as much as possible about a related field within your general job description.

Anyone within an aviation operation can take on ancillary duties:

  • A pilot can offer to become a safety officer.
  • maintenance technician can become an expert in managing flight management computer databases.
  • A scheduler can offer to refine passenger ground/air interface procedures.
  • A flight attendant can offer to redesign inflight passenger briefing cards.

Of course, all of this should be first discussed with a supervisor to determine if your interests dovetail with the flight operation’s needs.

Regardless, from a career standpoint, it’s import-ant to express to your supervisor that you are interested in taking on added responsibilities.

It actually doesn’t really matter what special tasks you take on. Showing that you are willing to help the organization by expanding your personal role will earn you many points with your supervisor and other managers.


Kellie Rittenhouse, CAM, director of aviation at Hangar Aviation Management, has risen through the ranks, from receptionist to her current leadership post, by following the guidance described above. Her advice on getting ahead is:

  • Show your value by being proficient at how you do your job.
  • Do jobs others don’t want to do.
  • Be interested in what others do, even those outside your occupational specialty.
  • Develop a positive attitude toward your fellow workers, your job and the organization.
  • Pursue additional training and education.

Rittenhouse emphasized the final point, saying that you can expand your role more rapidly and with confidence if you are a “learning person.”

As Rittenhouse rose through the ranks, she amassed an impressive array of academic and job-related degrees and certifications.

The NBAA Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) credential is the one Rittenhouse values most since it is designed to provide the recipient with a broad range of business aviation management and leadership expertise.


Eli Cotti, CAM, NBAA’s director of technical operations, says that supervisors can be pivotal in helping business aviation team members get ahead.

“Supervisors can create opportunities for their personnel to excel, help to motivate them and provide opportunities to grow their skills and management abilities. Mentors who help promising subordinates are key in enabling people to advance. Finally, the opportunity to obtain additional education and being introduced to new concepts should be provided for all motivated employees.”

The majority of those team members who take additional courses or training are pleased and enthusiastic with the results since their initiative often results in more rapid advancement.

Nathan Wrinkle, NBAA Maintenance Committee Chairman and president of Thoroughbred Aviation, notes, “The excellent education and information opportunities offered by NBAA helps individuals move ahead with their careers and helps supervisors and managers identify high-quality per-formers and future leaders. Take advantage of these excellent opportunities.”


NBAA sponsors a number of events each year that provide attendees with a variety of educational opportunities to further their professional development. These events also provide excellent networking opportunities.
NBAA’s biggest national event each year is the Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) (, which includes literally dozens of education sessions and professional development courses designed to help team members enhance their knowledge and advance their careers.
NBAA-BACE also features two major safety-related sessions: Single-Pilot Safety Standdown ( and National Safety Forum
Additional educational opportunities are available at the two major inter-national events hosted by NBAA each year: the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition ( and the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (
Other NBAA events focus on education and training for particular job categories, including:

  • Flight Attendants/Flight Technicians Conference (
  • Maintenance Conference (
  • Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (

Some NBAA events are geared toward specific topics, including:

  • International Operators Conference (
  • Leadership Conference (
  • Security Conference (

Individuals interested in learning more about the business of managing an aviation operation can attend several dedicated NBAA events, including:

  • Tax, Regulatory and Risk Management Conference (
  • Business Aircraft Finance, Registration & Legal Conference (
  • Business Aviation Taxes Seminar (

Finally, each year NBAA also offers three one-day Regional Forums ( for people who may not be able to attend the three-day Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, or who want to network with other industry professionals in their geographical area. Review all of NBAA’s upcoming events