Recruiting for Airport Diversity: Challenging Requirements

No business, including airports, operates in a vacuum. The environment in which each of us works is constantly changing. Competitive tension, evolving customer requirements and the ever-present stockholder expectations of growth and increased profit. This all comes together to put pressure on airport managers to do more with their limited resources, including people.

Then why would we limit ourselves to only a portion of humanity when it comes to building our teams?

What are generally considered the benefits of having a diverse workforce were outlined in my earlier article but actually getting a diverse workforce was only touched on in the diversity post. So let’s take a deeper look at recruitment and selection.

Airport Workforce Development is Hotter Than Ever

Some time back, I wrote Airports Compete for New Talent about the challenges presented to today’s airport industry by the continuing need to attract, retain and develop airport talent.

Whereas most people think the biggest airport challenge is security or air service (important, of course), what really occupies the minds and conversations of airport executives is meeting this challenge. As Dan Parsons said in the first of his excellent three article series, “At some point, the job (of airport executive) becomes less about technical expertise and more about leading people.”

The question has become, where are those people coming from? Why are they different than what I am used to? And, how do I deal with all this? THOSE are the questions I most hear airport leaders discussing in the bars and restaurants – places where they can feel free to talk about any subject on their minds.

As I wrote back then, this was once an industry in which most talent came through certain pipelines and tended to stay through their careers. All of that has been upended. Many of those pipelines exist, certain schools still have good programs, and many people still obtain certain certifications. But the overall picture is uncertain and unsure.

Airport People Power: Diversity

People top view

People top view

This is part three of a series where I explore concepts associated with people management, inspired by Greg Principato's post on the key concern of airport executives: people. Part one is on discipline and part two on development.

So far, we’ve discussed people management techniques that apply to your current workforce. This article relates more to building or replenishing your team in a way that should see its output increase. It is also a relatively controversial concept.

The reasons why workforce diversity is still a “special interest” activity rather than part of our “day to day” varies. It is likely to be a combination of poorly implemented corporate policy, fearful entrenched management and, even cultural prejudice (be it racism, sexism, agism, etc.). It might also be because diversity interventions can conflict with a person’s morals and values.

To help us avoid some of these problems, we’re are going to look at two limited premises - the benefits of diversity and unconscious biases - and one technique leaders can use to embrace and promote diversity. And unless otherwise stated, this article considers diversity across multiple domains including gender, disability, ethnicity, etc.

Diversity is Better Business

There appears to be at least two different types of arguments that diversity is not only good business but better business. The first category puts forward that diverse teams perform better than non-diverse teams. The second category argues that with society becoming more diverse generally, businesses need to embrace diversity in order to maintain their workforce.

In the first case, research abounds with comparisons between businesses said to be more diverse and those considered less with results said to show that the first group outperforms the second. The diversity being examined includes numbers of women on the board, gender in the general workforce (.docx file), and ethnic diversity in the general workforce.

Since the numbers all vary, readers are encouraged to explore these and other links to satisfy themselves on whether performance and diversity correlate.

On the second point, demographics of western society typically show that the representation “traditional” white, male workforce is shrinking relative to other sections of society. In non-western societies, change is also occurring due to globalisation and an increasingly mobile society.

In order to attract and retain this “new” workforce, business has to embrace diversity (often referred to as diversity’s twin, inclusion). In a competitive job market, those companies and those teams that work to foster an inclusive environment, will get their pick of the talent. Why would you want to shut out a growing segment of the labour pool?

Barriers to Better Business

And yet people, leaders and team members, still put up barriers to diversity. The reasons may vary with fear, apathy and ignorant bliss as examples but this author believes that they are always rooted in some internal bias.

These biases may be deep-rooted prejudices or they may be rather superficial rules of thumb based on experience or the cultural context in which one has grown-up. Sometimes, they might be rather explicit and conscious or they can be quite unconscious. It could be argued that all biases have an unconscious root*.

It’s Not Your Fault

Unconscious biases are a product of our experiences. As we have travelled through life, we have learnt things, who to trust, what works well, where danger lurks, and we have constructed mental models of the world to guide us in future decisions. Interestingly, it is just as much about what we don’t experience that can bring our mental models undone when the world changes around us.

Take for example the Australian business leader that was “humiliated” in front of a large audience when a strong diversity trainer called him on stage with a Torres Strait Islander woman. In turn, he was shown that the woman on stage struggled in life due to personal characteristics he didn’t share and that he had never even thought about them, either positively or negatively.

This often manifests in an attitude that there isn’t a problem in need of fixing and even minorities are not immune. At a Women in Airports Breakfast held a couple of years ago, the panelists, three very successful airport leaders, were asked about pay disparity between men and women. In response, all three stated that they had never had a problem with their own remuneration and, in the aggregate, dismissed the questioner's concerns. Those familiar with this issue will be able to point to research that shows that "women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio".

The Challenge is to Challenge

So, if we accept that diversity is essential to future success and that we may be operating on unconscious biases, what can we do about it?

The answer is to challenge our decisions regarding our team. Obviously, this relates to selection decisions but it also includes the requirements we set for positions, the feedback we give our current team and the individuals we identify for development opportunities.

At first, it is worthwhile to just challenge your own decisions and choices. Ask yourself, why do I prefer Dave over Ramona? The answer might not even be that you have always had a man in that role. It could be that your childhood friend was named Dave or that your first ex-girlfriend was named Ramona**. Once you have identified any biases, you should be able to look past them.

In organisations actively promoting diversity, they may have implemented procedures designed to challenge potentially biased decisions. In some HR departments, they have been instructed to challenge essential requirements put forward by hiring managers. They are asking questions like why is a degree from particular colleges required and why do they require past experience with certain companies? And in other cases, job advertisements must pass an additional stage gate where an independent manager must review the content for potentially biased language.

In all these cases, the result of the challenge may be that nothing changes. Dave might be the best candidate for the position and that job might require a Stanford education with experience at a management consulting company. The point is that these decisions were challenged and, over time, a more inclusive bias will become the norm.

From Decisions to Concepts

The natural progression from challenging decisions is to begin to examine the concepts behind these decisions. For example, if we go back to Dave and Ramona and our essential requirements for their job, through the process of challenging these decisions, we might end up challenging the concept of “best candidate for the position”.

Let's say that Dave is better at the job. You can pick the measure by which this assessment is made, past performance, advanced qualifications, original research that has progressed humankind’s understanding of the field, but the assumption is that he is better. If selected, Dave will become a part of your team and a social dynamic now comes into play. How will Dave contribute to the team environment as compared to Ramona? Are we even considering this as part of the selection process?

In the graph below, we are assuming that Dave is “better” at doing the job and that Ramona is “better” in terms of contributing to the team. What constitutes “better” now depends on the role and the dynamics of the existing and even future team. This picture is not a rule for assessing men versus women, experience versus new ideas, or Anglo-Celtic versus Latin heritage, it’s just a hypothetical example.

Airport People Power: Diversity Graph

Airport People Power: Diversity Graph

The graph offers three ways of comparing the two of them and coming to a decision of which to select for the role in your team. The left hand version could be described as the “best person for the job” approach and, interestingly, could be considered the most anti-discriminatory. It doesn’t consider gender, age or ethnicity at all. The middle graph considers the potential impact of diversity on the team and considers it in tandem with the traditional approach. Maybe Ramona becomes the “better” choice and maybe Dave is still your preferred candidate. On the right hand side, the technical aspects are reduced to the minimum requirements, a simple tick of the “can they do the job” box with the diversity score added to the base. Here Ramona is the clear choice because of what she may add to the team.

Which approach to take is always the choice of the hiring manager but at least now they might be challenging their approach within the context of what they want to achieve. If diversity is important to them they’ll tend to the middle or right. If performance is important to them, where might they go?

If there is one thing that is true for this field of business, is that discussion is necessary. If we are to do diversity “right”, we need to bring in a range of points of view. To that end, we welcome your comments and feedback below.

* Some very introspective or mindful people may have explored all their own feelings to establish their biases but I would consider these people relatively rare.

** After writing this, I became completely aware of how biased towards a male reader this article is. Perhaps this is because this is the audience that needs to read this, or that I perceive that female leaders are under represented in the airport sector generally or that I am a closet misogynist - I hope its not the latter.

Photo: Header by 

Timon Studler

/Unsplash, graph by author

Airport People Power: Development

This is part two of a series where I explore concepts associated with people management, inspired by Greg Principato's post on the key concern of airport executives: people. The first article in the series looked at discipline.

There seem to be a million internet memes on developing your staff with the “what if we don’t and they stay” posting on LinkedIn on a seemingly four-week cycle. So, it seems almost needless to discuss why we need to invest in our teams but we will, briefly, and then will move into some ideas on development that won’t break the bank.

Faster, Better, Quicker

Continuous improvement is a hallmark of modern business and it doesn’t just relate to safety. Stock holders in publicly-listed airports expect growth & returns, customers expect increased service & amenity and executives want to deliver on these expectations. One of the biggest problems for airports, is that the infrastructure to deliver on some of these expectations takes time to build. In the meantime, we often expect our people to do more with what they have.

But this is only the start of the story. You can’t just dump these expectations on people without creating an environment that encourages and supports the growth in the people we need to support the growth in the business.


A second big argument for developing your people harks back that well-trodden meme I mentioned earlier. The third point in that discussion, for me, would be, “if we don’t invest, they (the good ones at least) will leave”. Part of what people think of as being talented, is having the drive to learn, grow, progress. If our people aren’t getting this from their job, they will look for it elsewhere.

Development as an incentive is a great retention strategy. This author has definitely stayed on with a company offering a development opportunity where alternate career paths were available. It must be remembered, however, that it’s not a guarantee. Some people will leave after having developed a new skill at your expense. The goal is to, with respect to your overall program, think in the aggregate rather than the specific.

Personal Satisfaction

Another great reason for taking a strong stance on development is that it can be greatly rewarding from a purely personal point of view. In spite of all the worry associated with people leaving after you have invested time and money in them, seeing a team member that you have supported and developed leave to take a new opportunity; one that they wouldn’t have dreamed was a possibility before, is exciting and extremely satisfying.

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The Three Es

In a lot of internet and company literature, development activities are often broken down into experience, exposure and education. They even have a rule regarding how much of each but we’ll get to that in a moment.

  • Experience can be described as learning by doing. At its most basic level, this is on-the-job training of new team members to bring them up to the minimum standard. Moving beyond this, experience involves assigning team members work beyond or outside their current duties.
  • Exposure is similar to experience in that it is often a workplace setting but it doesn’t involve any actual doing. It often includes work shadowing or even mentoring. It can also include attending a networking event or a conference.
  • Education is the more traditional view of development typically involving off-site training in either short or longer term, formal settings.

Now the rule often cited in relation to the three Es is 70:20:10 - as a breakdown of the ratio between the three activities. Some sources seem to cite this rule as descriptive rather than prescriptive but it's not a bad guide to use in development planning.

So which ratio relates to which activity? Experience should represent 70% of the development plan, exposure should make-up 20% and education is the other 10%. As the bulk of development should relate to experience, let’s look at a great approach to using it in the development of a team member.


Work hardening is a metallurgical process by which a material is strengthened by incrementally straining and releasing a piece of it. Using stretch in development is a similar concept but more mental than physical, of course. A stretch project is a task or project that is thought to sit beyond the team member’s current job level.

Assigning a team member a stretch project works on a couple of levels:

  • Firstly, it challenges the team member and fights against stagnation and boredom.
  • It can (should) lead to a sense of achievement, pride and increased job satisfaction.
  • It also, perhaps selfishly, gets an important project done.

This may seem like exploitation and, if not initiated from a position of collaboration, it could be. It is, therefore very important that the development discussion involves whether the team member is looking for a stretch assignment, in what areas they want to develop and what is their current capacity to take the project on. A stretch project should always be a collaborative decision and for a manager, extra care should be taken to avoid implied expectations - i.e. if you don’t take this project, you won’t be considered for other development opportunities.

Supporting a Growth Mindset

It takes a supportive corporate culture for stretch to work. Much like the implied expectations mentioned above, a culture that doesn’t accept failure will not support stretch projects. No team member will accept a stretch project, if they see it as a poisoned chalice. A positive culture is one that cultivates a growth mindset.

A growth mindset puts learning at the forefront and, as such, comes at the world with a certain set of assumptions. The big ones associated with the discussion here are:

  • Challenge is a part of learning.
  • Effort leads to learning.
  • Criticism is for learning.

Does this mean failure is an option? It depends what you consider a failure. Mistakes are inevitable and are not be feared. Failure will only occur when the goals are not clear, the team member hasn’t fully accepted the project and the manager isn't supporting the project. This is not a set and forget activity.

Building Momentum and Keeping it Up

A support structure is essential to the success of a stretch project. If the company has a formal project management process then this is a good place to start but regular documented meetings looking at the project itself as well as the needs of the team member are a minimum. Since time is often our most precious commodity, it is also our most precious gift. Schedule time to support your team member and their success will be your success - see the personal satisfaction section above.

In the final article of this series, we will take an exciting look at workforce diversity in the airport field. As always, please feel free to contribute to the conversation below with a comment or feedback.

Airport People Power: Discipline

Airport People Power: Discipline


This is part one of a three part series on approaches to airport people power inspired by Greg Principato's post on a key concern of airport executives: people.

At some point in the careers of most airport managers, the job becomes less about technical expertise and more about leading people. There are plenty of books on leadership, business and management by more eloquent, intelligent and talented people than this author. But in recently building a new airport team and operating model in a challenging regional airport environment, three areas of focus came to the fore.

The first of these is operating discipline. This area is, by far, the most foundational. It takes significant work to set up but it has a long lasting effect.

Operating discipline isn't some militaristic objective with a view to everyone doing exactly the same thing, marching to the beat of a drum played by the manager. It should not be considered or implemented as a restrictive regime limiting the free will of frontline staff.

But we can't escape the fact that many aspects of airport operations, such as security, airside safety, customs, quarantine, etc. are highly regulated with prescribed standards. Furthermore, there can often be unforgiving consequences to errors either through regulatory sanctions or real-world impacts to people and property.

class="p1">So how do we create an environment that ensures what needs to happen happens and still lets people have some ability to exercise creativity and initiative?

Focus on Outcomes

Airport People Power: Discipline

It might seem too easy to simply say “set the destination, not the route”, but let’s consider this approach first.

The reason for anyone to do anything, in business, is to realise a desired outcome - to achieve an objective. That outcome could be to declare the runway serviceable, to confirm a passenger’s eligibility to enter your country or to have a clean floor.

By starting out from this position, you and your team members will share the “vision” of what the process is trying to achieve. This can be powerful; Especially if the subsequent process you design doesn’t result in the desired outcome or the variables outside of the original plan get in the way. Sharing the vision will help make the process more resilient and self-correcting, but more on that below.

The Verb in this Situation is Build

What you build is completely up to you but generally there would be documented descriptions of the work required - call them Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS), Standard Work Practices (SWPs), it doesn’t matter what the name is.

As you build, keep in mind the old saying often attributed to Einstein, “everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler”. Be critical of everything that goes into any work process. There is danger in too much, it will be too difficult, ignored or circumvented, and there is danger in too little, parts of the work missed altogether or the ramification of certain results not understood.

Sometimes there is no room for creativity. A manufacturer’s requirements on a pre-start test of a walk-through metal detector is a pretty specific process. If the equipment has to checked at 15 points with a test piece in a specific orientation, then that’s what has to happen. There is no way around that.

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Developing Processes

While not advocating a specific approach to developing these work processes, it is strongly advised that whatever approach you take, it is consistent in itself. After all, that is our objective here.

If you do go down the SOP route, make up a standard template, use code references, date the procedure, use versioning, have standard pre-task activities, icons to highlight hazards and a standard approach to numbering steps. Set a culture of meeting expectations but set them with your team.

Here are some tips to help with the process:

  • Talk to the people that do the job - Hopefully, those in your team currently doing the work know how it is done, collectively, at least. They are the best source of information for what you want to set as the documented process.
  • Observe the work - Sometimes what people say they do and what they actually do is different. This is not necessarily a comment on their honesty but often the best operators can’t articulate what they do.
  • Manufacturers’ requirements - When dealing with equipment, it is best to listen to the people that designed and built it.
  • Risk-based approach - Consider conducting a risk assessment such as a Job Safety (or Step) Analysis.

Adding in the Airport People Power

Obviously, simply having a documented process is not going to result in predictable outcomes on its own. Training in the process will be required as will time to hone skills and develop experience. Let’s save this for a future article.

Continuous Improvement

Try as you might, you won’t get everything right the first time. Even if you did, the environment might change or new tools become available. This is where a set of continuous improvement processes are required.

The first practical process to consider is how are corrections or improvements documented for changes to be made. There is probably nothing easier than using a red pen, literally. Have a supply of red pens handy and whenever anybody identifies an issue with a process, ask them to write the details down on a copy of the process using red pen and give it to the person responsible for making changes.

Airport People Power: Discipline

In addition to people learning on the job, it is also good to bring in fresh eyes on a regular basis. Observations of the work in action are invaluable but don’t focus just on adherence to the process. Have observers also consider the objective of the process too. It might be that circumstances have changed and what used to produce the outcome you wanted, isn’t working anymore.

Discipline requires effort - both to build and to maintain. When so much is at stake, safety, security and compliance, we can’t afford to lose it.

In my next article, we will explore the development of airport people beyond the basics, on-the-job training and experience. In the mean time, we are also interested in hearing about our readers experiences, please leave a comment or feedback below.

Images: Header via Flickr, dartboard by Rob Ellis, grade by Dan Parsons.

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When folks find out I was President of Airports Council North America (ACI-NA) for eight years, I tend to get a lot of questions. Depending on who I am talking to, the first questions are often about whether I get free flights or parking or food (parking is a big one, everyone thinks free parking would be the coolest perk, but alas!).

After the frivolous subjects are dealt with, people always want to know more about what happens behind the scenes. And the more people learn, the more they want to know what kind of person it takes to run such an operation, both at the CEO and the operational levels. The more we talk, the more often I hear the same thing: "What an unusual combination of capabilities these people must have. Where do you find them?"

But when I talk to people inside the industry, I get the following question: "What is it that airport leaders talk about in restaurants, hallways and bars? What is it they talk about when they can talk about anything?"

I get that question because over the years I had the good fortune of meeting, and working with the leaders of many of the world’s leading airports. I have spent hundreds of hours with them all over the world, in various meetings, hallways, bars and restaurants. So, I have a pretty good idea what’s on their minds.

The answer to that question has a lot to do with the discussion in the second paragraph. And, surprisingly, the answer is the same wherever in the world one might go. What is most on their minds, what they most talk about and most want to pick the brains of their peers about is…..Human Resources.

You must be kidding! Human Resources?!? That is not the answer anyone expects. Security. Safety. Air Service (which does come a close second). Dealing with public expectations. These are all answers that most people would expect, they are the “sexy” answers. But the real answer is Human Resources. Or, put another way, People.

It is hard to understand sometimes just how rapidly the airport industry is changing. From the highly regulated and consistent activity it had been for decades, it has morphed into an industry that is increasingly deregulated economically and an industry that must increasingly find its talent in new places. An industry that really never had to work hard to keep talent, now has to work overtime on it. Let’s look at some of the recent trends.

Changing Career Paths

When aviation was much more regulated and controlled economically by governments, the career path was simple, and the jobs never changed. Most airport organizational charts looked pretty similar.  

Most employees began working at airports right out of school and stayed their whole careers. They got certain degrees from certain schools and achieved certain certifications. Many airports were departments of governments back in the day, so government personnel rules applied (in some places in the U.S. this remains the case, incredibly).

When I first took the job at ACI-NA ten years ago, a great many of the Canadian airport employees I knew had once drawn a paycheck from Transport Canada. Today, there are very few left. Where at one time the industry had a ready supply of talent that was constantly replenishing itself, today that is no longer the case.

It was an industry that seemed to demand a certain skill set, one that was unique. Airports did not compete much with other sectors of the economy for talent. In those days, airports were mere facilities and had not yet truly morphed into the business-like, high-tech, economic engines they are today. You either knew how to work at an airport or you didn’t. You either had the right initials after your name, or you didn’t.

But things have changed…..

Airport Talent - Jobs for Airport Professionals is a new online recruitment resource where employers, recruiters and executive search firms find quality candidates worldwide.

Good News is Bad News

Airports are no longer just facilities that must be maintained and run to a certain standard. They are businesses. They are centers of high tech. They are cities in and of themselves, social units if you will. Today’s airport is not just a place, a facility. The airport of today is a much more dynamic place, with a broader set of imperatives and challenges. This is great news for the local, national and global economies. The world is connected as never before, and people traveling through and working at airports are able to accomplish things that would have been hard to imagine just a decade or two ago. This is not just good news, it is great news!

But as is so often the case, the good news is the bad news. Or at least a major challenge.

What this means is that airports can no longer simply rely on the usual pipeline of talent, and it means that the traditional skill set and training regimen is no longer adequate.

About a generation ago, an airport CEO I know went back to graduate school, mid-career, and got a Masters in Business Administration.  Some thought this odd, but he understood better than most how the industry is changing. He had come to it through the usual path, military, then to the airport, with the right initials after his name.  But he saw the change and knew he needed more.  Today, while the industry in the US may not be awash with MBA’s, you will find many more airport leaders with a strong grasp of finance and business concepts.  

Around the world, you will find this trend on steroids. According to Michael Bell from the executive placement firm Spencer Stuart, only 15 percent of airport CEOs globally came from within the airport industry. Think about that.  Just one out of seven globally.  

The United States is not quite there yet, but recent hires such as Jack Potter in Washington and Sean Donohue at Dallas Ft. Worth show the trend is moving here. And I can tell you, from all those conversations in those bars and restaurants that this has gotten the attention of the US industry.

Recently, I moderated a panel at the Airport Revenue News (ARN) Conference on which Bell participated. He said the following: “If you are an airport executive in the U.S. and you grew up in the U.S. and are not yet a CEO, I’d be concerned.” (As quoted in ARN, April 2015 magazine).  

The same dynamic is true at all levels, not just for CEO’s. As airports grow in sophistication on the business side, and as they make ever greater use of technology, the same old preparation is not going to be enough. And the same old way of keeping employees in the industry will have to change.

Retaining Airport Talent

If airport leaders are increasingly coming from outside the industry, it is equally true that they are increasingly leaving their positions for jobs outside the airport sector. At one time, an airport CEO’s main concern was that his (mostly male back then) people might leave to go to another airport, maybe one slightly bigger. This presented a certain challenge, but a predictable one. Today, talented people at airports have many other options, and the challenge of retaining them is exponentially greater (in places like the US with antiquated public ownership models, this is exacerbated by low levels of salary). This is causing a complete re-think of how airport talent is trained and provided with professional development opportunities. ACI World is leading the way in this globally, with many of the industry’s best minds focused on the problem. Organizations offering traditional training, provided in traditional settings, will be unable to compete. And today’s talent is not going to be satisfied with some sort of seniority system “guaranteeing” advancement, “eventually.”

When the challenge has morphed from worrying about losing someone to another airport, to now worrying about losing someone to the financial world or to Google, it is something that cannot be addressed simply by developing some new kind of webinar or something. And lest you think this is confined just to airports, the airlines have also noticed these trends. One of the more significant hires recently, I think, was IATA hiring Jill Nealon away from Dubai airport to focus on the airline workforce of the future.

Here Come the Millennials

If you are 45 and in the airport industry, chances are your career started the same as someone 20 and 40 years before. But if you are 25 or 35….not so much. And the expectations are far different.

Millennials* have a far greater expectation that their jobs will come with professional development opportunities, and with flexibility in scheduling and expectations, than did previous generations. To them, the fast pace of change is nothing new, that’s the world they were born into.

Aviation is not always open to fast change and flexibility, we have standards we must meet and the highest level of safety and service expectations to fulfill. For the impatient, fast-paced, millennial, risk aversion is not the default position. In addition, while the baby boomer generation may have viewed aviation as an exotic, cool and romantic industry, the millennial generation takes it for granted. They have never been on a plane that burst into applause on landing. To them, aviation is like any other utility. I do not think the smell of jet fuel will enter their bloodstreams and consciousness the way it did for the predecessors. To enter and stay in the industry will be a more calculated decision for them.

Therefore, the airport industry will have to adjust quickly, because the generation that came into the industry 40 years ago, the baby boomers, are retiring in large numbers and the generation in between the boomers and millennials is smaller. So, the airport industry will increasingly rely on a new generation that has a different expectation of its career path, a different level of acceptance of change, and a less romantic view of aviation overall.

My sense is that the airport industry is a little afraid of the millennial generation right now. This will change, but it will take effort, and a willingness to change.

The Future is Bright

This post reads like a cautionary tale, at best. Yet, I am confident and optimistic. The airport industry has shown a remarkable ability to generate new talent and ideas over time. There have been several periods when legendary figures have left the scene, leaving many to wonder if we'll ever be the same. But then a new generation comes along and shapes a new future.

I do think the challenges are different this time. The skills required are evolving, and the need to provide the training and development programs required is also changing.

Airports are finding talent in new places, and are often competing against new and different industries to keep their people. The airport industry, as a profession, is reinventing itself before our eyes, because it must.

Let me end where I began. The fact that THIS is the issue most on the minds of airport leaders in the bars and restaurants, to me, is a cause for great optimism and hope. As I’ve said before, it is what you think and talk about when you can think and talk about ANYTHING that tells me what is truly on one's mind. Those bar and restaurant conversations give me great hope.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

*Researchers define Millennials as the group born between the 1980s and early 2000s.


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