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Kern Award Winner Sean Breen Says Managing is a License to Learn

As director of flight operations for Liberty Mutual Insurance, Kern Award winner Sean Breen is responsible for a team of 11 pilots, as well as the flight department’s regulatory compliance efforts.

March 10, 2021

Being a good communicator is a key trait of most successful leaders. As such, it’s not surprising that Sean Breen has achieved the level of responsibility that he has, given his considerable communications skills.

As director of flight operations for Liberty Mutual Insurance, Breen is responsible for a team of 11 pilots, as well as the flight department’s regulatory compliance efforts. Leading his team through the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, but he has the trust of his staff because of his openness and willingness to communicate whatever information he can. Monthly virtual meetings with the pilots and opportunities for them to fly to recurrent training programs have helped keep them engaged and current.

“I try to be as transparent as I can be,” said Breen, a 10,000-hour pilot with substantial time in Gulfstreams. “Ultimately, we are people before we are anything else. Communicate, be clear about your expectations, and then communicate some more.”

As one of the recipients of the 2020 Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award, Breen exemplifies many of the award’s criteria, including vocational excellence, professional ethics and continuous improvement.

A graduate of NBAA’s Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) program and the holder of an MBA in applied aviation management, Breen said that being a manager is a license to learn.

“I’m never going to stop learning,” he vows, and encourages his team to continue their professional development as well. He also credits Liberty Mutual with a robust and supportive senior manager development program.

Breen also understands the importance of paying it back. He has volunteered with the National Intercollegiate Flying Association for 13 years, 10 of those as a board member and regional representative. Working with students and other volunteers – including judging at regional and national events – is “extremely gratifying,” said Breen.

Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award

Nine individuals were selected to receive the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award in 2020. Created in 2015 to honor Dr. Tony Kern, this peer-nominated award recognizes individual pilots, maintenance technicians, flight attendants, dispatchers and other aviation professionals who excel in leadership in the areas of professional ethics, vocational excellence, continuous improvement, professional engagement, professional image and selflessness.

Learn more about the NBAA Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Award.

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