First year at SimpliFlying: lessons learned from external and internal consultancy

“Hire for attitude; train for skills” is a well-known approach executed by Southwest Airlines. It is also true at SimpliFlying. A year ago, during my final semester at university in Latvia — and with a rather vague understanding of aviation — I got involved in this fast-paced environment, first as an intern, and later, full-time. Here’s what I’ve learned during my journey:

“Since you’re in the area…”

Working in a consultancy with a specialisation in airline marketing means that country borders get blurred. When I conduct market research, I seek marketing innovations regardless of country or airline. Smart ideas can sprout everywhere so monitoring multiple markets is important. Likewise, the borderless approach applies to our external consultancy work. Since almost every team member lives in a different country and continent, work for clients is somewhat divided into regions. “Since you’re in Europe…” is an absolutely normal way of getting involved in a new project in any one of the European countries — or in a country close to Europe. (For my colleague, Marco, South America is also “in the area”.) Being flexible is crucial.

Thrown into the deep end

Since there was a client “in my area”, I got my first consulting project and business trip to Germany within a month of joining SimpliTeam full-time. I realised that experiencing SimpliFlying’s MasterClass being delivered — and presenting some parts myself — were the best way to understand our consultancy work, and also to familiarise myself with it. Thanks to long hours of preparing for the masterclass with Marco, the first client project went well. It was, frankly, much better and less stressful than I had it imagined in my head. Utilising a hands-on approach to trying new things is an important feature of our daily work. Whether it is launching the first #SimpliBook or having the first #SimpliLab in Asia, we make it happen.

Team has my back

None of these sudden ideas could be brought to fruition without support from my teammates. While a large amount of knowledge has been acquired just by doing market research over the last year, hours of internal consulting with the SimpliTeam has helped me see the big picture better. Obviously, there have been multiple trials and errors but being responsible for one’s work is the most important factor for growing professionally and personally. For a small, and agile, team like SimpliFlying there is no other way around it. Handovers, replacing each other, and seeking feedback for improvement are all normal habits for us. This way we ensure that no work gets stuck during vacations (for instance, during our CEO, Shashank’s paternity leave last autumn) or on our business trips.

Work-life balance across 13+ times zones

Handovers across time zones are even more fun. A document that is created during the morning in Singapore, is delivered to me (in Spain) during my morning. A few hours later, it is handed over to Shashank in Canada, during my evening (and his morning) for final review and approval. Finally, Shashank sends out the document to a client, during his evening, on the same date.

As confusing as this sounds, it’s undeniable that magical things can happen in a day that spans over 30-something-hours.

Along with such agility and flexibility, making time for our personal lives and hobbies is as important. When my head is buzzing with new information, I find relief in our compulsory leave experiment of taking 1 week off every 8 weeks. It’s a week for many siestas; some fiestas with friends; arts; sports; and everything else that help me recharge: A much needed change to regain a clear mind, a fresh perspective, and better focus. This way, SimpliFlying is not only helping airlines become remarkable, but also helping its employees perform more productively.

It’s quite amazing to realise just how much can happen in one year at SimpliFlying, and I am happy to have been a part of it.

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