Printed headline: Why We Are All Here
I once read a book on leadership that instructed business leaders to ensure that “the one big thing” was always clear. Employees and team members were urged to internalize that thing into their everyday work to ensure that everything they do points toward it. The “one big thing,” for any endeavor, is the reason everyone shows up in the morning and the end to which they all strive during the day (and sometimes even while tossing in their sleep).
To support each other in the aviation maintenance community, we have to remember that one big thing. At the very least, we have to focus on figuring out what that thing is, how it’s changing and how our work touches it.
In April, I flew to Orlando for my second visit to Aviation Week’s MRO Americas. Everywhere at the event, it was clear what the “big thing” was: people.
I was specifically there to facilitate an invitation-only session of aerospace and defense professionals—both civilian and military—to discuss ways to better support the aviation maintenance technician community to ensure that a healthy and viable pool of technical talent is available for every aircraft, for every mission, everywhere in the world. Away from the pens of our Aviation Week hosts, the group discussed the pressing truth that in commercial hangars, military installations and every component shop in between, staying airworthy depends on having the essential people available to do the work.
What was most striking was how workforce and technician training issues appeared throughout the event—even in places where they were not the defined subject or focal point. The best example came in a panel session on “Capacity and Pricing” moderated by Jim Clarke, vice president of planning and performance for Haeco Americas, and featuring a number of senior industry executives from around the world.
The panelists focused almost entirely on people. After some discussion they clearly decided that having the right personnel—rather than market factors, physical infrastructure or business matters—was the key factor in successful capacity and workload management in the modern MRO world. As moderator, Clarke summarized the points of his colleagues and in the process gave voice to the “big thing:”
“Capacity is not showing in your hangar footprint, but in the number of people that you have and their capabilities and skills,” he said.
Things may change, but for now the aviation industry’s “big thing” is to bolster its future by finding the people with the skills and passion to sustain it. For aviation professionals, that is why we’re all here: To ensure the safety of passengers, cargo, civilians, service members and even our businesses by securing the attention and harnessing the efforts of the people who can keep it all moving.
Brett Levanto is vice president of communications for the Aeronautical Repair Station Association and oversees operations for its management firm, Obadal, Filler, MacLeod & Klein, Plc. He supports a variety of policy initiatives and has focused on helping build the aviation maintenance workforce of the future. Follow along with his and ARSA’s work—and see how you can get involved—at arsa.org.