#NotLegacy Show — What We Learnt from Six Aviation Experts at Farnborough 2016

Editor’s NoteAt 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. Here’s a round-up of our learnings while speaking to them. Watch the video interviews here.


On culture:

1. Robert Deluce

We are very much a company with an entrepreneurial culture. Speed bumps don’t deter us.

2. Tony Fernandes

The one thing that’s critical to AirAsia’s success — the way we manage people. Many can start a low-cost carrier. There are thousands of books about it. There are millions of MBA students.

I really think the way we manage people; the way we have 14,000 staff with no unions; the way that we can take someone who has no experience into a very senior job — these give us that edge. We have the unique ability to do things when people just gave up. I believe the difference between a successful airline and one that isn’t, is the people.

More about Tony Fernandes and his art of keeping great people.

3. David Cush

We try to build a culture that is inclusive, teammates-based, customers-based; very open in terms of personalities, background, lifestyles.

4. Saad Hammad

Build a fact-based culture and management process. Entrepreneurial businesses can go on for so long. But there comes a point when the complexities and scale of the business overwhelms the ability of an individual or a group of individuals to do stuff in their heads. So it is important to build an analytical culture, an analytical decision-making process. That helps us make good economic decisions.

On leadership style:

1. Steven Udvar-Házy

I’ll say I’m a motivator, a creative leader who anticipates what an airline may need not today, but five years, ten years from now. It’s more of a crystal ball, having a sort of a sixth sense of what the industry needs from now.

Everything today is focused on costs and volume. Airlines need to find ways to become more cost-effective, whether it’s on the labour side or aircraft productivity — using their assets better, using technology in a more innovative way.

More about Steve Udvar-Házy on the importance of seeing the future.

2 . Mary Ellen Jones

I like to think of myself as being very open, accessible and approachable. I love my job because I love engaging with my customers. The other favourite part of my job and also a favourite part of my day is when I pop in with the team to walk about strategic issues, tactical issues, family stuff or just any fun stuff. The engagement helps to build trust and connection that are important.

Ultimately human connection, the human element is important in any successful enterprise. Making sure that young people are aware of that as they enter any industry — it is not just about the technology, the machinery, the money. It’s about who you are working with and what you feel strongly about.

3. Saad Hammad

My leadership style when I joined Flybe was to signal to the whole organisation that we are going to be doing things very differently, that we are not bound by conventions. We can do things from other sectors that are relevant to our situation. Going all out purple on our colour was one way we showed we wanted to stand out.

Best advice for 20-year old self

1. Steven Udvar-Házy

Travel. Follow your passion and pour your heart into it. Seek joy in what you do.

2. Robert Deluce

Golden rule — dish out what you like to receive in return, whether it’s to passengers or team members. Really concentrate on doing what you would like to receive if you were in their situation.

3. Tony Fernandes

Don’t be too ambitious. Take things slowly, don’t run before you can walk. [Advice to my 20-year-old self will be to] do exactly as I do now. Maybe keep my mouth shut once in a while.

4. Mary Ellen Jones

Just go for it. Don’t hold back. Have confidence in yourself. This is something I pass along to many people I mentor, particularly women when they tend to think they need to have all the 100 characteristics that people are looking for in a job. Many men think they are ok with 75 and they just go for it. So I tell women — you’re never going to have the 100 percent of what people look for. Just be confident in what you do have and the rest will come.

When in doubt, I usually dare but with careful research. Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

Have the right attitude and go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Even if you are looking for an opportunity, if the money is good, the prestige is good, but you’re not feeling it in a good sense, it’s probably better to pass.

5. David Cush

Stay true to who you are. As long as you don’t deviate from that, you can wake up in the morning, even if things are rotten, you can say “OK, this is who I am, I will stay true to it”. If things don’t go well, you just keep fighting harder. Compromise — sometimes it is good, sometimes it is taking the easy way out.

6. Saad Hammad

Ask lots of questions. Enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Favourite airline

1. Robert Deluce

Aside from Porter, Qatar is a very special airline.

2. Tony Fernandes

[For long-haul] I’d probably say Etihad.

3. David Cush

I’ll say Jetblue. I should probably say Alaska. They are both good.


For more #NotLegacy articles:


Li Guen

Li Guen

Former Head of Communications and Marketing at SimpliFlying
Li Guen was the Marketing Communication Lead and Project Manager at SimpliFlying from May 2012 to May 2017. Prior to this, Li Guen was at Weber Shandwick working with clients including Rolls-Royce, Changi Airport Group and P&G. In her free time, Li Guen likes trekking mountains in Asia.
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