Role: Managing Director
Company: BMI Baby
Track Record: A BSc in Marine Navigation and Technology, MSc Air Transport Management as well as a stint as a cinema usher!
What does your job entail?
My role at bmibaby is to continue building a successful airline serving short haul European and domestic routes from airports around the UK, Belfast included. In fact, I do tend to spend a good bit of my time in Belfast! We are largely a leisure based airline although we do have a number of routes which appeal to business travellers out of Belfast City Airport such as Birmingham, the East Midlands and Stansted.
With the announcement that we will be basing two additional aircraft at Belfast City Airport offering seven new routes from the airport to Malaga, Alicante, Palma, Faro and Ibiza for summer 2012, plus a new year round service to Amsterdam and new flights to Geneva for winter 2011, this will make getting away for a sunshine, ski or city break more accessible from Northern Ireland.
Is it 9-5?
Far from it. While the hours are technically 9-5, the reality is that this role is a lifestyle rather than a job. I am often up with the larks to catch early flights to our bmibaby hubs across the UK and Europe so lie-ins really are a thing of the past. But that comes with advantages, as there is also great flexibility when I need it.
How did you get into this line of work?
I always wanted to be in the airline business, but it is a difficult industry to break into. So I worked in other industries and got to management level, and then took a year out to study Air Transport and focus on where I wanted to be. Then I suppose luck kicked in when I got offered a job with an airline.
Outline your career to date?
I started out as a cinema usher while at university and got offered a job as a cinema manager for Virgin Cinemas after graduation. After a few years in this role I got promoted to become a multiplex cinema Deputy General manager. This job took me to Dublin and I then worked for Xtravision as area manager.
I then left to do a MSc in Air Transport Management and following this worked for Jet2 (Business Development Manager), My Travellite (Head of Marketing, then MD), IATA (head of Marketing and New product development in Montreal, Canada) before joining bmibaby as commercial director and then managing director.
Tell us about your qualifications/training.
BSc in Marine Navigation and Technology, MSc Air Transport Management, and extras such as media training, finance accounting and presentation skills.
What qualities are required for your job – personal and professional?
A focused energy, drive and passion for the role are all necessary qualities. It’s important to keep my eye on the longer term, and the bigger picture, whilst retaining a close eye to the day to day detail. Most importantly I think that the ability to manage and lead a team is essential as they are each experts in their fields that need my support to enable them to do their jobs well.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Sometimes you have to jump before you know whether you can fly!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I do get some free time, I love walking our dog Bailey, reading books, and going to the cinema – but not all at the same time!
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
Between my job with Virgin and Xtra-vision I spent a month living in a tent beside Lake Windermere. I used to borrow a rowing boat, and rowed across the lake to work every day with a tourist submersible operation, taking people to the bottom of Windermere on pleasure trips. I also spent some time diving in Loch Ness with the same organisation. There is definitely a more adventurous part of me.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
Robert Ballard. He is the subsea explorer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic and continues to this day to explore the earth’s deepest oceans. I talked with him when I was a student of Marine Technology and I have always admired his relentless pursuit of the unknown and his adventurous spirit.