June 3, 2020

In a turnaround for many in the business aviation industry who have been too busy to devote time to professional development, the new COVID-19 work-from-home environment is proving to be an ideal time to take some career-advancing classes.

During NBAA’s most recent News Hour webinar, “Advancing Your Professional Development During COVID-19,” industry experts provided insights as to which courses might be most helpful to an individual, given the many options available via virtual and online platforms.

“Deciding what path to choose depends first on what their passion is,” advised Gary Martin, training program manager, Universal Weather and Aviation. “Once they know where their passion lies, and what path they would like to select, that would be the determining factor as to which professional development courses they should research and take.”

Albert Astbury, program manager, Office of Professional Education, Worldwide Campus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, agreed. “It’s a personal choice. Where do you want your career to go, what kind of education do you already have? Have a plan in place with your goals and then look at programs that will help you achieve your goals.”

NBAA’s Tyler Austin, senior manager certification, noted the importance of developing a professional development plan.

“This should be done annually,” advised Austin. “Once that’s completed, you can detail your goals for learning or your next professional milestone, and find the training providers that offer them. This sets you up for success.”

For those who are still unsure about their professional advancement plan, Austin recommended doing a gap analysis, which he noted is often done in the Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) program and throughout the industry. “Ask yourself, ‘Where are you a little light on training? Where can you fulfill that that? What areas do you need more education to hone in on those skills?’” said Austin.

Webinar moderator Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA vice president educational strategy and workforce development, reminded participants who may having trouble zeroing in on goals or a plan, networking with peers for advice may be helpful. “Attending local and regional industry events, in person or virtually, provides opportunities to benchmark with your peers,” she said.

Webinar presenters agreed that virtual training is a great opportunity that can also provide a good environment for interaction. In fact, interaction and engagement during virtual training courses is recommended. “If you participate in the group discussions and ask questions, it can be a memorable learning experience,” said Martin. “Reach out to other participants and form an online study group.”

Astbury suggested starting off with one course, and scheduling time for the class as you would an in-person class. “You should probably plan on at least one hour a day per course,” said Astbury. “It’s a commitment like any face-to-face program, but can give you much more flexibility.”

For those in the industry who may have been laid off or furloughed, experts recommended branching out and taking classes in different aspects of the industry. “Understanding the industry from a cross-organizational, cross-operational perspective is always necessary. That understanding helps you with marketability,” said Austin.