Airport Manager - A conversation with Gary
What did you do prior to joining Birmingham Airport?
Albeit some 21 years ago now, I worked for various companies within their Finance Departments, including the old Central Electricity Generating Board and Price Waterhouse Cooper chartered accountants based in Birmingham City Centre. I started at the Airport as an Accounts Assistant and then moved into Human Resources as a Trainer and then became the Training Manager. I was then lucky enough to undertake a development secondment as a Terminal Duty Manager, within Operations. So in 21 years I have worked in 3 totally different departments.
What attracted you to the role?
My current role is extremely diverse and requires a very wide overview and a need to help drive forward areas of the business, which really does appeal to me. The Airport Control Centre is a new part of our operation with a newly formed team that needed developing and supporting and this was an extremely exciting challenge. Having worked on the front line, within the terminal operation, I wanted to be able to support my colleagues in all operational areas by delivering an efficient service that was in the best interest of the business.
Tell us about your training?
My training has evolved over the years. My financial background and training has helped me appreciate the Airport as a business. While I was at work I was able to complete my business studies education, resulting in obtaining my Business Degree. I became a qualified trainer and I am also an NVQ Assessor. Having moved into Operations as a Terminal Duty Manager the majority of my learning was 'on the job'.
I like to think that it is the range of experiences at the Airport, that I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed, that all add together to give me a much broader knowledge and understanding. 'We learn something new every day', would be my motto and there are many opportunities to learn!
So what’s a typical day for you then?
The day, or night, begins with a shift handover from the outgoing manager. This really helps to prepare me for the 12 hours to follow. It’s important that I quickly assess how all areas of the operation are performing and this includes; congestion, serviceability of equipment or areas of the building and staffing levels.
I may have meetings scheduled during the shift, which include the regular shift meeting with my duty manager colleagues from other departments. I need to ensure our team has everything they need to carry out their tasks for the day and this is often smoothed along by a cup of tea.
I need to be aware of how the Airport’s operational plan for the day is set up and be prepared to pre-empt any issues or delays. I am part of an excellent team and I need to be constantly aware of any changes that may impact on the operation. For example a technical delay on an aircraft not only affects the plans for that aircraft later in the day, but may also impact on aircraft stand availability.
I need to be able to co-ordinate and communicate with a range of organisations to support their operational needs. We may receive medical emergency telephone calls that sometimes escalate to more serious incidents. I need to ensure we carry out systems checks and tests, such as fire alarm tests and emergency procedure tests as part of a continuous cycle of review and improvement.
What advice would you give for potential new recruits?
The role of Airport Manager requires a much broader appreciation of the overall operation and any situation must be viewed as part of a much bigger picture. You need to have a questioning mind and be prepared to challenge situations and take responsibility for appropriate action. You have to know how decisions affect our customers, our profitability, our image and reputation and also our operational teams. You need to have a much more strategic view of the operation and be efficient at communicating at all levels with very different organisations, that all have their own business objectives. It is a highly challenging role with a high level of responsibility and a need for ownership of a situation.
Every experience is a learning curve so make sure you use every experience in a positive way!
So what do you like best about your job?
I really enjoy the fact that no day is the same and that I can only perform well in my job if I ensure my team and colleagues are supported and given the resources they need. I have a fantastic working environment with a great team of Airport Managers and Controllers.
And what qualities are the most beneficial?
There are so many but if I had to pick a top 3 then I would say a need to be; decisive, self-motivated and highly pro-active.
Are there opportunities to develop in your career?
Yes. I feel that it’s important to be flexible and have the right attitude and be able to adapt to the changing needs of the industry. I am encouraged to be involved and support different aspects of the business, which in turn improves my knowledge and understanding and personal development.
What would you say to someone thinking about joining BHX?
If you are self-motivated, enthusiastic, flexible with the right skills, and if you are genuinely a team player then 'go for it'. If you are fortunate enough to join our Company then I really do look forward to meeting you.