July 20, 2021

COVID-19 affected business aviation in countless ways, including how employees may pursue career advancement. A July 20 NBAA News Hour webinar explored how the pandemic influenced three young business aviation professionals’ choices to seek new opportunities in the industry.

“If anything, the pandemic gave [us] a little practice for getting out of our comfort zones,” said Megha Bhatia, who was promoted to vice president for business aviation sales & marketing at Rolls-Royce North America after serving in various customer service roles with the engine maker.

“You take the same resilience, the same agility and the same openness to new ideas and new concepts and you bring it to the job,” explained Bhatia. “As long as you keep an open mind and remain agile to different ways of carrying things out, you get comfortable with not knowing all the answers.”

For MacKenzie Kelly, the decision to seek a promotion ultimately involved changing companies.

“It was a little bit more difficult to see the opportunity because of the pandemic and not necessarily knowing where everything would land,” said Kelly. “It was really important to make sure that I felt comfortable making the decisions I did.”

“There are no benchmarks for us to look at to know what’s going to happen in the future or to forecast anything,” added Charley Benjamin, who earlier this year was hired as charter sourcing manager for Jetsparency.

That same feeling of uncertainty also emphasized the aspects that Benjamin found unsatisfying at his former job.

He said he felt he had to go to his bosses at his former employer and ask, “’Can I take this baton from you?’” he recounted. “That was when I realized that in order for me to do more, be bigger and do better, I needed to go somewhere else.”

While all the webinar participants believe they made the right choices, they acknowledged the pandemic also heightened their doubts in their abilities. Kelly, who now serves as director for charter sales and flight control at Mayo Aviation, offered reassurance to those who may lack confidence in moving into a new position.

“Who knows yet whether or not it’s the right decision or the wrong decision?” she said. “I’m going to do my best to make sure that it’s the best position it can be. I can’t say the grass is greener [somewhere else.] I’m going to make the grass greener here.”

“When you take on a new role, you’re expected to grow into a skill set; you’d be overqualified if you already knew everything,” Bhatia added. “Everybody goes through [doubts] when starting a new role. You are an asset, and you must have faith in yourself.”