globetrotter
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How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Mon Sep 25, 2000 11:49 pm

I am interested in pursuing a career in the operations/management side of commercial aviation. My interest and education lie in areas like finance and strategic planning. I'd be particularly interested in hearing from any forum members who work in route planning, fleet planning, and general operational management of airlines. What specific educational tracks are preferred in hiring? What level of specific airline experience is preferred? (given that I would not be applying for the CEO's job   ) Thanks so much for your comments.


Globetrotter
 
NKP S2
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Tue Sep 26, 2000 5:41 am

A working, "from the ground up" knowledge of commercial aviation is a good place to start.  One thing that will be obvious in this buisness is the clash between the abstract and the pragmatic-- The dynamic and fluid nature of actual operations can butt heads with pie charts and rigid projections. They're two different worlds.
 
globetrotter
Topic Author
Posts: 172
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2000 4:35 am

RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Tue Sep 26, 2000 10:29 pm

Interesting. In your opinion, must "from the ground up" knowledge come from actual, in the trenches work experience with an airline? Or can that be learned (and thus demonstrated) in other ways? I have never worked in commercial aviation or for an airline, but I have family that has, and I continue to educate myself through reading and all the sources I can find. My employment history has given me skills that translate well to general corporate structure, but it is not aviation-specific. Is that preventative, or will airlines bring someone like me into the fold? I appreciate your response.


Globetrotter
 
boomer
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Tue Sep 26, 2000 10:56 pm

NKP S2-

I agree with you that a solid foundation in aviation is a good place to start. Having first-hand familiarity of an industry is directly beneficial to making decisions and performing in that industry. We in this business, however, are guilty of overstating the significance of this and neglecting the 'business' side of things.

From the maintenance end of aviation (where I sit), this industry is notorious for a great sin. When we need a maintenance lead or supervisor, we usually take the very best mechanic we have out of his toolbox and make him a leader. MOST companies do not follow-up with career development training, you know...people skills, planning and project management skills, etc.

Eventually, this person may end up as a Director of Maintenance and still not know the difference between 'overhead' and G&A, yet he (she) is in a position of decision that can directly affect the business and the livelihoods of the employees. What happens when this person becomes VP of Operations and never learned how do build a 'pie chart' that is needed for a presentation to the bank for financing capital expansion? The two worlds are not as far apart as you might think. The Peter Principle is alive and well in aviation...we promote people to their level of incompetence; and we do so at the cost of the team.

To balance this, it is not unhealthy to bring in these skills from outside the business. Does your company's CFO have and A&P or ATP? Probably not, but a passion and/or familiarity with the biz is directly beneficial. Fresh thinking, not tainted by preconceived notions of the business that we all learn from being in the middle of it is often a good thing.

In many cases (not all), it is easier to teach a CPA a bit of our business and its nuances than to take a line supervisor and teach him (her) finance and accounting.

Just some thoughts. As for you, Globetrotter, I hope that you can balance your desires with the career market in this industry and what the market will bear. I tell my kids that they must paint their own future, but don't do it with a color-by-number that someone else designed...use a blank canvas. By the way, if you want, send me your resume. I am not currently hiring, but would like to look it over.
 
Guest

RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Wed Sep 27, 2000 12:35 am

In three weeks as a Customer Service Rep for Air Canada, I've learned more about the commercial aviation industry than I thought was possible. If I am fortunate enough to get into the cockpit later on in my career, my experience here will definitely make me a better employee.

My career goals are somewhat unusual, I suppose. I'm a Business Administration major at Cal taking a year off to gain work experience in the commercial aviation industry. I want to be a commercial pilot (preferably at United, where my grandfather flew) and later get into corporate management at whatever carrier I end up flying for.

One of the things I've discovered in the course of my studies in college is that 99.9% of our greatest business executives are people who started out at the bottom. They all have "real world" experience "down in the trenches" and later in their careers, when they are in their office on the 43rd floor, they don't let themselves lose sight of operational realities and how things really work as opposed to how executives like to think things work or how they want them to work.

Forgive the blatant use of cliches, but I couldn't think of any better terms!

So, If I may, my advice is definitely start out at the bottom, as a CSR. Do you have a college degree? If so, make it known that you want to advance. If they know you want to go places and you work your ass off, you will rise quickly, just like any other industry. If you don't have the degree, go get it. The sky's the limit if you're college educated, and in most cases, including commercial aviation, there is a glass ceiling if you don't have the degree.

Pat
 
globetrotter
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Wed Sep 27, 2000 1:04 am

Thanks for all of your responses thus far. I look forward to more. AirCanadaSFO, I do have a college degree. In fact, I have an MBA. I work presently as a Credit Analyst in the Business Banking division of a large regional bank. I'm looking for a change of careers of sorts, and commercial airliners/aviation are at the tope of the list. Because of my education and experience, I would likely be overqualified to start as an CSR, though not opposed. I'm proud of the education and experience I do already have and would like to parlay that into the corporate offices at an airline. I suppose my question could be boiled down more simply. Does that fact that my education and experience not encompass commercial aviation at all preclude me from getting in the door for entry-level management/executive positions?


Globetrotter
 
Guest

RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Wed Sep 27, 2000 1:34 am

Yeah, you are pretty overqualified. That MBA can be a huge plus, obviously. On the other hand, a lot of my co-workers here are college educated (our Ramp Coordinator is a Cal grad!), which was a big surprise for me, although I don't think any of them are MBAs. I think it's not as much a matter of education being focused on commercial aviation as it is what experience you do have. If you wanted to be, say, a customer service manager or operations manager for United or Delta at a particular station, it would definitely be to your benefit to have the experience of being a CSR.

But if you're looking to work at corporate in Chicago or Atlanta, then I really think the sky's the limit. Apply. Send your resume all over. But one of the most important things is to network and make connections. That's really big in our industry. And that's one of the good things about a little CSR experience. You do that for awhile, then an opening pops up in Chicago/Atlanta/Ft. Worth and you can apply for it with the status of already being an active employee and having an internal recommendation from your supervisor.

So I guess my real advice is to apply for management/exec, and if you don't get them right off the bat, then do some CSR stuff. Just what I'd do if I were in your position.

Good luck!

Pat
 
flightcrew
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positi

Wed Sep 27, 2000 3:57 pm

Just thought I'd throw my humble opinion into the pot here - I see a big difference between whether or not you can parlay your education into a management position in the aviation industry and whether or not you'd be good at the job. I don't doubt one bit that with an MBA and throwing your resume at enough airlines that you could land an entry-level management position. But the bigger question is whether or not you'd be effective in the position - and this is where the aviation experience would serve you so well. In this day and age, aviation experience is sadly disregarded in the management ranks. Some years ago, for example, I was flying for a commercial carrier just coming out of bankruptcy and the new management that was brought in, rank and file, were all recruited from Frito Lay. Somewhere, somehow, the idea was planted that business was business and if these people could make a potato chip company profitable, then they could make an airline profitable as well. They were wrong. The management brought in, while highly educated and I'm sure compentent in the potato chip world, had zero aviation experience and it showed.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I would hope that you could find a way to gain some entry-level, worker-bee experience before you leap into management. It will make you more effective in your future management roles. You say you are over qualified for the CSR job - well, that would certainly be true if you didn't intend to move into management. Heck, there are plenty of things you can do to gain a working perspective of an airline....moonlight part-time as a baggage handler....or really go crazy and apply as a flight attendant....whatever it takes to learn about the daily operational challenges that employees face. You've already earned an MBA and a good understanding of business....now it's time to continue your "education" and gain an understanding of what it's like out on the line.

Best of luck to you in your endeavors!!  
 
Guest

RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Thu Sep 28, 2000 12:13 am

FlightCrew-

Well said. What exactly do you do? Flight deck or cabin? I've been wanting to talk to an FA because I'm trying to get on at UAL, to gain the internal rec needed to get an interview for a flight deck position. I'm told that a lot of people take the same route (being an FA for a couple years) that I'm thinking about taking.

Your comments?

Pat
 
Airgypsy
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Thu Sep 28, 2000 1:40 pm

Go to a respectable school to get an aircraft dispatch certificate and start from the bottom. If you have talent you will rise quickly in this labor short market.
Airgypsy
 
flightcrew
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Thu Sep 28, 2000 3:28 pm

AirCanadaSFO....

Actually, I started out as a f/a and used that job to pay for my flight training. After I had eeked out enough flying time I moved into the pointy end of the airplane, and later I left flying and moved into a FAA position. My personal experience was that being a f/a really helped my move up into the cockpit and I've known quite a few f/a's who have gone this route.

If you are interested in taking the f/a path, email me directly and I will point you to a great message board that is completely dedicated to f/a hiring tips and information that is run by a myriad of current f/a's from different airlines. The f/a position is one of the most coveted and competitive jobs in the world (I have yet to figure out why).

Anyway, you can email me at [email protected]

FlightCrew
 
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Thu Sep 28, 2000 8:12 pm

I don't think getting your dispatch certificate will do that much other then give you a real good idea about flight operations. Know what has to be done is something that you gain with experience.

But with you biz background you shouldn't have any problem getting into an airlines office somewhere. Just look around a lot of the finance people airlines need come from the same pool of talent that everybody else draws from to fill those types of jobs.

 
globetrotter
Topic Author
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Fri Sep 29, 2000 2:16 am

I do appreciate all of your comments and the advice that you've given. I think it's a fair assumption to say that my particular background won't be prohibitive to me in getting in the door, but in order to advance I'll need some greater, specific experience that I don't have now. The positive side is that getting in on the bottom floor of operations will likely expose me to the other areas of aviation in which I presently lack knowledge.

I'm currently polishing my resume and sifting through the different paths available. The future really is wide open after all. I welcome additional insights as you have them. Thanks so much.
 
Kohflot
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Fri Sep 29, 2000 10:38 am

I'd have to concur with the dispatch certificate route but I'd go one step further. Work for an airline as a dispatcher.. the airline is a much different business from the SOC than the ticket counter.
Ask why..
 
tomindc
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Sat Sep 30, 2000 12:30 am

This has been an educational review. Is there a website where one could go to understand what these various "positions" do for an airline --- to understand what the various jobs are that operations and management require?

Thanks
 
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Bruce
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RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Thu Oct 05, 2000 6:50 am

I wish airlines had some sort of public relations/media relations deparmtents seeing how my work experience has been in media. I have never seen a job posting for this area. I seem to think I have very little experience or knowledge that would be useful to the aviation biz. Would I have to in effect start over from scratch? It would be nearly impossible to toss out the last 10 years of my life and start over at $6/hr.
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
 
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Tomindc

Thu Oct 05, 2000 4:38 pm

I don't know of any site per say. But you might want to look at the Human Resources or job pages of several airlines. Most of them have a description of what the various openings entail.

One of the best ones for that is Southwest Airlines.

The does not imply an endorsement on my part and I encourage you just to spend an evening looking at various sites.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
Guest

RE: How Do I Get Into Operations/management Positions?

Fri Oct 06, 2000 3:50 pm

I'm at Cornell University at the School of Hotel Admin. and I'm excited about possibly working within the industry. The hotel has good conacts with hotel firms, hotel brokerages, consultancys, and investment banking firms. However not many go from Cornell to airline management. I'm keen to get a summer internship with TW doing business projections, yield management, strategic planning, competitive analysis all that good stuff. Has anyone here done such a thing or have any comments. Does a B.S. in hotel admin. with a concentration in finance give me a lesser chance of competing for top jobs, should i change majors?

thanks russ

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