What next? This was the question I asked myself when nearing graduation from my undergrad course in Aviation, which included flying licences. While a flying job would be on the horizon, I always knew that I wanted to have the chance to do more with my career, and this led me to Griffith University and the Master of Aviation Management Program. The course checked all the boxes and I had no doubt that it would help me in my career, although at that point I didn’t know just how important it would prove.
I began the Master’s program via distance just a few months after finishing my undergrad and pursued the degree on a part-time basis for the next several years while flying full-time. My first flying position was on a Boeing 727 aircraft, flying cargo throughout North America and the Caribbean. During this five year period I could see various aspects all around me that were being taught in the MAvnMgt program; my job as a pilot allowed me to directly see and comprehend the airline and airport management that I had read about during class, while knowledge of the Freedoms of the Air helped me understand the airline’s route network.
During my tenure on the Boeing 727, I found that one of the most applicable courses at the time was Aviation Leadership and Communication. Having joined the training department, I was responsible for training new-hire pilots in the classroom, simulator and aircraft. While these pilots were new to the airline, they came with a variety of experience levels, ages and skillsets – I’ve no doubt that the Griffith course helped me understand my audience and vary my communication and teaching style for best effect.
Following that instructor role – my first at an airline level – I went on to teach fourth-year college courses for several years, specifically focused on Aviation Management. This was a role I kept for a couple of years while flying at the cargo airline and then a regional operator. During my time as a College Professor, the Master’s Degree provided me with valuable background knowledge that I used to make the course material and presentation more effective for the target group.
Ultimately my career path led me to my current role at Air Canada – one of the world’s largest network carriers. Initially hired onto the Boeing 737max, I joined the 737max training department in an instructor capacity, which I kept until transitioning onto the Boeing 787, where I currently sit. Being able to – at long last – fly internationally to every corner of the globe, I’m able to fully appreciate the marvels of aviation and the opportunities my career allows me. I can see concepts from International Civil Aviation applied in real life by understanding with International Air Law, dealing with foreign organizations and sharing briefings with my fellow pilots before every flight regarding foreign airspace.
My latest role, in addition to being First Officer on the 787, is as a facilitator for Annual Recurrent Training (ART). All 5,000 pilots must receive this training on an annual basis and includes case studies and techniques in communication, leadership, teamwork and other aspects that all culminate int one: Safety. For me, this role is the embodiment of my airline experience and education all rolled into one. The Master’s in Aviation Management from Griffith laid an excellent career foundation and framework in every aspect, which was then built upon by my years of flying and teaching in the industry, and is growth that continues to this day.
I’ve never limited myself to what I can achieve and believe that anyone with the right attitude, work ethic and foundation, provided by quality education, can excel beyond their imagination. I believe that life and work experiences build you up and help ensure success; despite current turbulence in the airline industry, there’s no doubt we are going through an experience that all of us can learn from. I am very excited about what the future holds for us all.