Director - Aviation and Airspace Services at Woolpert, Inc.
Describe your usual work environment:
In a central office with 60 other people, an individual office; the company has many locations distributed throughout the U.S.
Please provide a brief description of your job:
Consultant for airlines exploring major commercial airport investments, airport managers interested in improving airspace-runway capacity and efficiency; consultant to the military for projects involving air traffic control in military training airspace; consultant for airport managers to prepare Commercial Space launch site applications, previously an air traffic controller for the FAA-manager with oversight of regional air traffic control facilities (400 controllers) and 20 air traffic control towers.
What made you decide to pursue your chosen career path?
I was interested in aviation, enrolled in Aerospace Engineering at University, had an opportunity to be an air traffic controller and tried it out. Then I kept volunteering for projects and got involved in many new technologies.
What are the three key skills that are required for your job?
Ability to compartmentalise - to move from one highly technical project to another. Patience to learn regulations and research problems. Imagination to be able to think beyond the way things have always been done.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about your job?
Success comes from a positive attitude and an open mind more than being technically perfect.
What advice would you give to a school student who is interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?
Be curious. The job you really want has not been invented yet. You will build your career path. It is not about choosing the perfect career ladder - that does not exist. You need to find a company that does what you are interested in with interesting people, and then keep volunteering for the opportunities that will happen.
You can’t predict those, but they are guaranteed to happen. Just be willing to volunteer to be a little busy, so you can be the positive, friendly person that helps figure things out. Your career will emerge from that. Then everyone else will say “that’s really cool, I want to do that”. But the truth is you have to build it one good decision at a time.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
Counter the polarized positions that come from political entities grasping for power. Have a better method to debate public policies based on merits instead of dogma.