www.wingsmagazine.com

Features Operations
Leading Edge: Honouring the leaders of tomorrow

"Just move a little more to your right, Mike. That’s it, now just twist your body a bit more, just like so. Hey, we don’t want the CN Tower growing out of your left shoulder now do, we? Oh, and brighten up on that smile a little bit – why are you frowning? That’s right . . . you have every reason to be proud of this achievement! Sell it!”


July 9, 2013
By Stacy Bradshaw


Topics

"Just move a little more to your right, Mike. That’s it, now just twist
your body a bit more, just like so. Hey, we don’t want the CN Tower
growing out of your left shoulder now do, we? Oh, and brighten up on
that smile a little bit – why are you frowning? That’s right . . . you
have every reason to be proud of this achievement! Sell it!”

It’s a
warm, sunny morning at Toronto’s Billy Bishop City Centre Airport and
I’m putting poor Michael Schuster, left, with his buddy John, through
the ringer. The 33-year-old Guelph native, Porter Airlines pilot and
president of aviation consulting firm Aviation Solutions, has now been
photographed about 200 times for a potential cover image for Wings
magazine.

But in spite of the at times uncomfortable photo barrage
and multiple scenarios I am putting him through, Schuster’s resolve
doesn’t break once – in fact, he’s handling it all in a calm, highly
professional manner, cool as a cucumber. Deep down, I think he’s even
having some fun out there in the blazing sun.

Schuster is
professional, resourceful and understands the aviation game and
everything it entails – all at the ripe old age of 33. This is highly
apparent when we start bantering about his life as a pilot, his years of
training, his philosophies on the development of young pilots in
today’s environment, and the safety standards that he believes need to
change within the Canadian aviation landscape. He’s a man with a plan,
and armed with a pedigree that includes stints as a flight instructor
for several firms and schools and a commitment to giving back to the
industry he is passionate about, Schuster shows precisely the kind of
leadership and commitment to aviation excellence that made him a
deserving recipient of one of Wings and Helicopters magazines’ inaugural
Top 10 Under 40 awards (see, “Finding next-gen achievers,” pg. 18). And
the good news? He’s just one of 10 (actually 11) who received an award
in 2013 for precisely this type of personal drive.

The Top 10 Under
40 awards were developed this spring in a collaborative effort by the
editorial and marketing departments at Wings and Helicopters to uncover
and honour the achievements of the next generation of aviation
superstars. In an industry clamouring to fill a growing void of retiring
pilots, maintenance workers, business administration professionals and
more, our goal was to identify young professionals making a difference
in a variety of realms, within their organizations and the industry. It
was our goal to feature new leaders ready to carry the torch.

The
response to the initiative was strong, with plenty of nominations in
both the rotary- and fixed-wing realms. The unique thing about this
contest is that it’s not all about pilots: it’s about professionals
flying high in a variety of disciplines from maintenance to business
operations.

It also was refreshing to see a number of nominations
from women excelling in various aviation disciplines. The aviation world
is a male-dominated industry, but there are countless women making
inroads in it. Young achievers such as Trisha Lakatos, business
development director at ACASS in Montreal, and Jen Norie, general
manager of VIH Helicopters in Victoria, B.C., perfectly illustrate this
point. Both have reached high levels of achievement within their
organizations and within the industry itself, a testament to their
internal drive and commitment.

It’s also about something more, a
motivation all winners show – a true passion for aviation that drives
them to reach new heights, and challenge themselves to reach higher
still.

On many occasions in the past few years, the question of how
prepared the aviation industry is for the future has been addressed in
the many interviews I have had with top industry executives. Key
corporate leaders often pause, and say “finding top talent” is their
organization’s greatest challenge – those with the right mix of savvy
and smarts, confidence and know-how to redefine corporate realities and
lead future generations of employees. As our award winners illustrate,
there are reasons for considerable optimism: the aviation landscape is
obviously rich with precisely these kinds of individuals.

Wings and
Helicopters congratulates all the Top 10 Under 40 winners. May you
continue to strive to reach new heights and foster change in the months
and years ahead. It’s precisely what this industry needs.


Print this page

Related



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*