#NotLegacy Show — Steve Udvar-Házy on the Importance of Seeing the Future

Editor’s Note: At the recently concluded Farnborough Airshow, SimpliFlying presented the #NotLegacy Show, powered by the Bombardier C Series. The #NotLegacy show featured daily live video interviews with six aviation stalwarts who have taken the road-less-travelled to success. This article is about our interview with Steve Udvar-Házy the Executive Chairman, Air Lease Corporation. (You can also read a round-up of our learnings while speaking to the others.)

When most people were still figuring out what to do in their lives, Steve Udvar-Házy was busy making the first deal of his life. While still in college, Steve managed to seal his first deal with Air New Zealand, kick-starting a career that would see him inventing a new industry — aircraft leasing. In the process, he would become a billionaire.

At the #NotLegacy Show, we asked Steve – what was his style of leadership? His response — one that tried to see where the industry would be 5-10 years from now. He emphasised the need to foresee distant challenges and creatively motivate one’s employees as they tackled the challenges of the future.

Steve listed three challenges in aviation:

  1. Airlines are increasingly becoming a cost-driven business: Therefore leaders in aviation would need to come up with creative ways to lower costs from increased efficiency, better labour utilisation and most importantly — improved technology.
  2. Airlines are currently carrying 4 billion passengers a year: Even at a modest rate of growth rate of 4% per year, they will transport 7 billion passengers by 2030. The challenges facing governments, airlines and airports in handling these 7 billion passengers are immense. New runways will be needed, along with newer ATC — and, indeed, new terminals.
  3. The rise of low-cost carriers and single-aisle planes is a trend that must worry full-service carriers. Not only are the low-cost carriers experiencing double-digit growth, but they are also servicing a much younger demographic. These are the passengers of the future.

So, if there is one thing that you should take away from this interview it’s this — you, as a leader in aviation, need to identify challenges you  might face not 2 years from now but 10 years from now. Subsequently, you will need to work creatively towards turning challenges into opportunities. Who knows, you might just become the next billionaire whilst solving these problems!

Top quote:

“A lot of the most successful companies start out in the mind of a young person who does not understand adversity as well as an older more experienced person”

Full Interview

Ravi Chauhan

Ravi Chauhan

Ravi Chauhan is the Lead - Research and Analytics at SimpliFlying. Based out of Delhi, Ravi works on developing special projects and analytical models for SimpliFlying. Working with numbers is his passion, and he revels at any opportunity to derive deep insights from datasets of all shapes, sizes, and forms. He has led the efforts in developing the Honeycomb -- a breakthrough analytical model that helps airlines measure and benchmark social media activities and link them all to organisational objectives, and changes the way we look at social media and data. You can tweet him at @simpliravi and email him at ravi@simpliflying.com
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