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17 May 2021
Canadian-born aviation industry expert Kevin Clarke is AviaPro Consulting’s Head of Aviation Consulting. Today, Kevin splits his time between project management, consulting as a network expert, recruitment, and delivering training.
On top of designing optimised networks for AviaPro’s clients, he’s also busy at work creating business plans that allow customers to tap into sustainable growth opportunities.
AviaPro sat with Kevin to discuss his vision, his tools, and how he translates a lifetime of aviation industry expertise into results for his clients.
What are you working on today?
Right now, we’re working with our major industry partner, and we’re developing a project for their customer who is a major national airline in Asia. Our objective there is to create an optimised business plan that increases their profitability and addresses their challenges at the moment.
We’re doing it in three stages. The first was an assessment, which we completed with our industry partner. The next phase is workshopping, which starts now. In parallel to training and problem-solving, we want to use the workshops to foster a buy-in from our customer and to gain more direction from them. The more consultation we get from them, the better our chances will be of knocking this campaign out of the park. Finally, we’ll be handing them a complete business plan for their final approval, after which we’ll be on call to adapt the plan and assist where we’re needed.
I’m also very active on another project with another airline where we’ve also partnered with our major industry partner to supply experts on the ground at the customer location. This is going to be a much more hands-on and technical project, so we’re sourcing and working with highly skilled auditors, as well as experts from a variety of fields that go from flight ops to safety, quality or maintenance.
I’m working with this network of specialists to enable their work, cut through red tape and coordinate with them to ensure they have everything they need to deliver the project in a way that exceeds expectations, while also acting as a liaison between our team on the ground and our major industry partner at their head office.
Where did your passion for aviation come from?
Looking back, it all started when I used to fly to Malta in the summers, where one of my grandparents lived. I remember the picture vividly -- sitting in London Heathrow’s Terminal 4 with my nose pressed against the windows, looking out over the runways.
Even as a young child, I was trying to understand all of the factors that go into how and why fleets operate: all of the aircraft that had different sizes, capabilities and manufacturers... They had all been selected for a reason. And they were there because whether through political, cultural or business links, vastly different places around the world are tied to each other, and those links are serviced by connections that include air travel.
It was the tip of the iceberg that got me thinking critically and creatively about aviation.
Finishing high school, I was taking pilot lessons in a Cessna 150, and later on I studied engineering at the University of Toronto. After being recruited by Bombardier, a Canadian aircraft manufacturer, I spent some time working in their customer service department. Aside from gleaning precious learnings about supply chains and the assembly of the aircraft themselves, it was also my first customer-facing role, since I liaised with aircraft owners and helped them acquire crucial parts needed to keep their operations running smoothly.
It’s where I developed an acute understanding of different cultures, which were represented through the customers I served. By its very definition, aviation is a global business.
This internationality of business is where my passion went into a higher gear. My passion was in the details -- analysing the context and tailoring the fit.
Can you tell us about how you went from the detail-oriented world of spare parts to big-picture analysis and consulting services in a few decades?
After working in spare parts, my next experiences with Bombardier had me selling aircraft around the world, which is something I developed the knack for.
I discovered that the key to winning a tough campaign is to propose innovative value solutions that are flexible and creative. If a customer wasn’t sure that they needed our product, we would revisit the customer's needs, and demonstrate the various ways in which our aircraft solutions met those needs.
Eventually, I learned how to sell not only a product, but how to sell value itself to the customer.
When I eventually joined AviaPro Consulting, it was as someone highly specialized in delivering projects and executing on network planning. As I continued to progress at AviaPro, I widened my skill set to include project management, business development and training.
Over the years, I’ve developed an ability to work with diverse airlines and industry players to solve their problems. That's what I did when I was marketing airplanes, and now, it's about improving efficiency, safety, and profitability.