Oct. 31, 2020

When Hunter Watson was young, his father would pick him up from daycare and stop at the end of the runway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). “I got to run around and watch all the planes take off and land. That’s where my drive started becoming a passion about what I wanted to do,” Watson, operational specialist NBAA, said during an Oct. 29 webinar about pursuing a career in business aviation.

Watson was one of five panelists who talked about how they got started in the industry during the virtual event, which was aimed at students and hosted by the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA). Other panelists were Kirsten Krueger, regional vice president of sales, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.; Derek Moore, regional sales director, Textron; Caleb Stitely, marketing and client relations manager, Chantilly Air; and Ryan Valone, pilot and aviation manager, Solairus Aviation. Stephen “Steffin” Harris, chief data and analytics officer at VMware, moderated the discussion.

The speakers recalled early jobs at airports, whether it was dumping lavs or washing windshields on King Airs. Networking was emphasized by Valone, who is an NBAA mentor, noting he remains in touch with pilots he met when he pumped gas at the airport.

“Networking is a crucial component to having a successful career,” said Watson, who became active with NBAA after attending the annual convention while a student Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott. “Sometimes it’s not just what you know but who you know, and how those people can help you get to your next destination.”

Stitely and Watson recommended NBAA’s Young Professionals (YoPro) I Business Aviation group as an excellent resource, along with local business aviation groups. ”YoPro is a great way to see that as a young professional you belong, no matter what position you may have,” said Watson.

Finally, providing excellent customer service is key.

“Especially in the business aviation industry, each client is different,” said Watson. “If you can make your customer experience adaptable and give a unique experience, that is where it shows you are willing to go above and beyond.”

Learn more about upcoming NGPA events.