May 16, 2024

How can today’s young professionals (YoPro) build a rewarding and fulfilling career in business aviation? A panel of experts answered that question and more during NBAA’s recent News Hour webinar: Crafting Your Career Narrative – Strategies for Professional & Career Development.

Career development is prominent for today’s young business aviation professionals. According to NBAA’s recently published YoPro Member Survey, some 72% of respondents said they are seeking ways to advance their careers and 50% said they were struggling with upward mobility.

“Networking is an essential tool for career development,” said Cole White, vice president of sales for Jet HQ. “Networking allows you to pull from different experiences, different backgrounds, different approaches and perspectives, and you can draw on all of that knowledge to guide your career decisions.

“Every opportunity you get to talk with someone about their experiences and their knowledge is a learning experience for you that puts you in a better position for your career. And don’t get discouraged if a certain path doesn’t work out; pivot to the next one,” he added.

Networking can take many forms, but some of the most useful resources may be closer than you think, said Jenny Showalter, founder and chief motivational officer at Showalter Business Aviation Career Coaching and moderator for the webinar.

“There are over 60 local and regional business aviation industry groups throughout the country, and each of these is a valuable resource for networking,” said Showalter. “They’re all a little bit different, and each has its own mission, but they’re a wonderful way to connect with other industry professionals and gain access to the broader business aviation community.”

NBAA’s regional groups and issues portal is a valuable resource for anyone interested in reaching out to their local group, she added.

Events are a powerful networking tool, too, said Myrthe Simons, director of commercial operations at Clay Lacy Aviation.

“For me, industry events provide access to different facets of the industry that you wouldn’t typically have access to. And you can go beyond the industry, too. I recently attended a leadership conference that didn’t have anything directly to do with aviation, but it was a great opportunity for my development,” said Simons. “Thankfully, I have the support of an organization that recognizes that this is good for me and for them.”

That is a lesson employers should embrace, said Mike Whannell, CAM, chief pilot for Jack Henry and Associates. “Benefits such as targeted professional development opportunities not only help employees succeed, they show employees that they are valued. In today’s challenging labor market where attracting employees and retention are key, there is real value in this type of investment.”

This return on investment extends to continued education, Whannell added. “When an employee gains more knowledge, they bring it back to you where it can be shared,” he said.

When considering educational courses, young professionals should consider NBAA’s Certified Aviation Manager, or CAM, program, Whannell noted, as this is tailored for the specific needs of business aviation. Learn more about CAM.

The panel also had advice for young professionals considering a career in business aviation.
“Internships are a great way to find out what this industry can offer,” said Showalter. “And take it from someone with inside knowledge of the industry: don’t ever hesitate to apply for a scholarship because you might find that you’re the one that gets it.”