For aviation professionals aspiring to advance their careers and take on more of a leadership role, aviation attorney Kali Hague has some words of wisdom:
“There is this notion that you can’t be a leader until you have a management title, but that’s not right,” she declared. “Leadership is much more of a soft skill. You can start practicing leadership anytime. Company management is more likely to pick someone who is already demonstrating leadership to fill a more responsible position.”
Hague worked with a coach on her leadership skills prior to becoming a partner with Jetlaw. She also recommends taking continuing education courses and participating in NBAA’s Young Professionals in Business Aviation (YoPro) group. It’s a great way to network and grow your skills, she says.
“Involvement with YoPro can also help people find a path in business aviation, rather than having to start from square one,” said Hague, who is an active member of the Aero Club of Washington as well.
“I’m looking to build firepower by considering what skills I can add, what is their value, and what’s the opportunity they provide.”
Tag Galvin Technical Writer III, Gulfstream Aerospace
Like Hague, who was also lucky to have a mentor, Brett Melcher of Encompass Health said that having a supportive manager or mentor is helpful in cultivating leadership skills. As an aircraft program manager who works on Cessna 680 Citations, Melcher credits his manager for challenging him to learn her job. “She pushes for training and supports networking,” he said, “including my involvement with the YoPro Council.”
Melcher showed initiative by asking if he could sit in on leadership team meetings so that he could learn and become more involved. Not only did the team approve his request, they asked Melcher to make his own presentation to the group.
Tag Galvin, a technical writer at Gulfstream Aerospace, has taken advantage of several company-sponsored continuing education programs. Galvin is taking it one step further by evaluating professional certifications.
“I’m trying to learn additional skills beyond the technical ones,” he said. “I’m looking to build firepower by considering what skills I can add, what is their value, and what’s the opportunity they provide.”
Tuition reimbursement and time to study for certification exams would be useful in helping to achieve his goals, notes Galvin, as is having a supportive manager.
“Self-motivation comes first,” concluded Galvin, “but receiving guidance from a manager or mentor is crucial in providing opportunities and helping you navigate in the right direction.”