May 12, 2014

Listen to an NBAA Flight Plan for more on getting ahead in business aviation.

As aviation students prepare for graduation at colleges throughout the country, many may be wondering how they will get ahead once they start their business aviation careers. The same goes for more established aviation professionals further along in their careers.

Steve Brechter, senior advisor for operations at NBAA Member Gray Stone Advisors, has provided some valuable advice in a blog post titled “Five Ways to Get Ahead in Business Aviation,” and NBAA caught up with him recently to discuss some practical applications of his tips.

“Because flight departments are sometimes small and far from the core of the company’s main business, it’s often tough to get ahead,” Brechter said. “We’re off by ourselves and out of the mainstream. We need other, perhaps unconventional tactics, to advance our careers.”

Brechter suggests five ways to make that happen:

  1. Be present
  2. Be engaged beyond the core requirements of the job
  3. Be a leader both in thought and in the organization
  4. Be informed about the industry
  5. Be ready

“Of these, being ready is perhaps the most important,” Brechter noted. “Know where you’re headed. Every pilot files a flight plan for each trip. Have one for your career.”

Mentoring relationships are also great ways to get ahead in business aviation, he pointed out, calling the process one of the most effective ways to advance a young person’s career. But, he warned, that takes commitment on the parts of both mentor and mentee.

“The most important part is to be clear on the commitment required of both parties,” Brechter said.

For those who aspire to careers in aviation management, Brechter’s advice was specific and concise. “Be aligned with NBAA,” he offered. “It’s such a resource-laden world of opportunities.”

Brechter pointed to the Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) program as one example. “Certainly, if you aspire to being an aviation manager, that’s what you need to do,” he said. “Aviation managers of the new millennium are very different people than they were 20 or 30 years ago. The skill sets are very different.”

One reason for the differences, he suggested, is that corporations are much leaner now than they were in decades past. Resources that were there for earlier generations of aviation managers are no longer available.

“That’s why the CAM designation is so important,” Brechter said.

Extra effort, extra enthusiasm and extra knowledge are all part of the equation, he concluded. “You can’t expect someone to do this for you,” said Brechter. “You have to distinguish yourself by leaning forward and taking on responsibility. See and be seen.”

Read Gray Stone Advisors’ “Five Ways to Get Ahead in Business Aviation.”