More than 20,000 of us are resting our sore feet today, having walked countless miles in some of the dress shoes we haven’t worn since pre-Covid. But the blisters and soreness are worth it because we earned them attending yet another momentous NBAA-BACE—held this year in Orlando, Florida.
This was the first time BACE was held in the Sunshine State in four years, and it was great to be back. It was at this year’s convention that we celebrated so many milestones, including NBAA’s 75th anniversary and AIN’s 50th.
Plus (and here comes the shameless plug), my own company, API, also celebrated its 50th year in business. And this week, my dear friend and API colleague, Debbi Laux, was honored with the coveted NBAA Silk Scarf award. Congratulations, Debbi, on your nearly 30 years of dedication to our industry!
We can always count on NBAA-BACE to showcase new technology, along with the latest and greatest aircraft (hello, Dassault Falcon 6X and Gulfstream G800). And we also learn more about the critical topics of the day, such as sustainability, unmanned aircraft, and how to improve aviation operations.
But I was most pleased with just how many sessions represented the emotional intelligence side of aviation. Attendees had multiple sessions to choose from regarding diversity, communication, and leadership. There was even a topic on mental health!
Following are a few notable highlights of those very “people-related” subjects and sessions:
• Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Because DE&I are such top-of-mind issues today, it was gratifying that so much attention was focused on them during the convention. In fact, there were three DE&I-related topics on the agenda for attendees.
First, members from NBAA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Working Group answered a series of tough questions and addressed comments and points of view from a wide range of perspectives. Next, they offered guidance and practical tips for building your organization’s DE&I strategy.
And then they discussed how certain communication can be perceived as a micro-aggression. Those subtle, intentional—and oftentimes unintentional—interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias.
• Leadership and communication. Five sessions devoted to leadership and communication explored the dynamics of high-performing teams, and identified tools and techniques to improve communication, encourage inclusiveness, and overcome barriers at work.
In another session, attendees learned how to become a “servant leader,” increase commitment, and foster engagement in an organization’s safety management system. Yet another illustrated real-life examples of how intentional leadership can transform an organization’s culture.
A fourth session helped us bridge the gap and improve conversation between employees and their leaders. That session also dealt with how to set expectations with third parties and other stakeholders outside of aviation.
Lastly, we learned how to harness the power we all possess to convince our managers to support our professional development opportunities. Remember, when you’re a stronger team member, it makes for a better team.
• Mental health. The critical importance and impact of mental health was given its due at the convention. Incredibly, the statistics tell us that more than half of adults will face a serious mental health challenge at some point in their lives. What’s more, one in three adults will face a mental health challenge in any given year.
Discussed was why mental health-challenged employees are under-treated in aviation, as well as strategies to support mental wellness and well-being. Also covered was the FAA’s take on mental health, along with how the agency deals with it in regard to medical certificates.
•Recruitment and compensation. Two sessions devoted to recruitment and compensation offered a wealth of information on these facets of our industry. One highlighted the need for a new industry-centric solution focused on developing and deploying a sustainable pipeline of aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs). That is absolutely required to grow business aviation and avoid a lack of high-demand services, as AMTs and repairmen retire.
The other session posed the question: are you paid what you’re worth? This one offered an overview of compensation structures, combined with a presentation of survey research that was conducted in the third quarter.
The ‘People’ Business
With another NBAA-BACE under our belts, I’m grateful for the opportunity to reflect on everything we explored, learned, and discussed over the course of this memorable week. And that’s not to mention the pleasure we shared in seeing and meeting friends and colleagues old and new.
Because, as we say at API, “It’s all about people,” the collegial and personal nature of the event is always a treat. And, in hindsight, there was no doubt that, for their part, the NBAA rolled out the red carpet for everyone who attended.
Sheryl Barden, CAM, is the president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, the longest-running recruiting and HR consulting firm exclusively serving business aviation. A thought leader on all things related to business aviation professionals, Barden is a former member of NBAA’s board of directors and its advisory council.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily endorsed by AIN Media Group.