Warning: Use of undefined constant SITECOOKIEPATH - assumed 'SITECOOKIEPATH' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /wp-config.php on line 37

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /wp-config.php:37) in /wp-includes/feed-rss2.php on line 8
Michal Swoboda http://michalswoboda.com Michal Swoboda - Consultant | Engineer | Creator Fri, 05 May 2017 12:17:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 9 Steps to Become an Independent Aviation Consultant http://michalswoboda.com/9-steps-to-become-an-independent-aviation-consultant/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/9-steps-to-become-an-independent-aviation-consultant/#comments
Fri, 05 May 2017 12:15:31 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=424 After my previous articles, in which I attempted to share my views on various aspects of an aircraft lease transition project, I have received a few emails from people asking me on how to become an independent aviation consultant and whether I think the life of a freelancer would be for them. The second question […]

The post 9 Steps to Become an Independent Aviation Consultant appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
After my previous articles, in which I attempted to share my views on various aspects of an aircraft lease transition project, I have received a few emails from people asking me on how to become an independent aviation consultant and whether I think the life of a freelancer would be for them. The second question I intend to leave for a separate article, but here I would like to give you 9 simple (but not easy!) steps to become a professional aviation representative.

Step 1 – Gain Experience

I may be stating the obvious, but … you need experience if you want to start your own venture and offer your services to customers. A consultant often works alone, and even if you were to become part of a team, no one will want to lead you by the hand. You must know your stuff, and by that I mean good, sound working knowledge.

In most cases, your experience will either come from being a licensed (or unlicensed, in some cases) aircraft engineer who then, ideally, would have moved up in the corporate structure to a shift leader or, even better, a project manager for heavy checks. Or, in many cases, you will gain the necessary experience by working in a CAMO (an airworthiness management department) of an airline. The specific tasks will differ from person to person, but the broader your perspective will be, the better. As a consultant you should have both technical experience with the physical aircraft, as well as a very good understanding of aircraft records and the legislation which governs airworthiness.

Step 2- Learn and Study. Study and Learn.

Most of us learn by doing. A university degree in aeronautical engineering is a great thing to have, but it will probably not teach you the knowledge you would require as an independent aviation consultant. So, back to point 1 of this article – people mostly learn by gaining experience, at least to a certain point.

Studying is something you need to do on your own. Legislation changes. Aircraft types change. Customer requirements vary from year to year. The geopolitical situation in the world is unstable. You need to study to both help your customers and help yourself find the customers and foresee what they may expect next.

Step 3 – Build Your Network

I will post this article also on LinkedIn, where probably every Reader is familiar with the concept of having his or her own network. Nevertheless, this can’t be stressed enough – whatever work you do, you always work for people. You will only get paid is someone actually needs the services you have to offer. Therefore, the more people you know and the more people you can approach, the more likely it is that someone will decide to start working with you, even if you are completely new to the market.

The great thing about networking, especially in our digital age, is that you can start at any moment (hint: the best moment is right now!). Feel free to start building your network while still in high school or university, or during a summer internship. Be open, talk to people, send them emails. Of course, not in the sense of being a stalker. But reach out and people will gladly talk to you, answer your questions and accept you into their networks.

A connection on LinkedIn (and even more so an actual, personal connection) may benefit you many years down the road in ways you would have never anticipated while it was originally made.

Step 4 – Learn to be Self-Employed

I think this is pretty important. If you’re thinking of becoming and independent aviation consultant, you are most likely either employed by someone (and you want to change careers) or you are unemployed for whatever reason. In both cases, you need to learn to be self-employed.

The topic of how to move from being an employee to going on your own calls for a separate article (like “Freelancing in a Niche Business – The Ultimate Guide”), or perhaps even a short book. But I think the greatest problems freelancers face is the fact that they are not used to set their own goals and act to achieve them. Throughout school and all our employment years, we always have someone to tell us what we are supposed to be doing. Either your teacher or your boss have always taken upon themselves the responsibility to “hire” you to do specific tasks in a specific time period. But now you’re on your own and it’s up to you whether you will watch one more episode of the “Game of Thrones” or start working on your small business.

Whatever your difficulty in becoming a freelance aviation consultant may be, I can assure that you will face it. In many cases, it will not be just one difficulty but an entire herd of difficulties, drawbacks and failures. Learn to be self-employed.

Step 5 – Create Your Own Digital Personal Brand

I have devoted a separate article “Is Digital Personal Branding a Must” to explain why I believe a digital presence is crucial in today’s world and there is really no way around it. If you don’t exist online – this is also a special type of digital presence, which in most cases means “I don’t want to talk to anyone about anything, ever”. You display an image of yourself, whether you want to or not.

Digital personal branding is only a small part of the overall personal branding process. Nevertheless, it is important and the results can be magnificent (or terrifying, if don’t get it right).

The basic tools for a digital image of yourself are all social media platforms, although I would not recommend using all of them at once, especially if you’re just starting. LinkedIn is my personal favorite when it comes to building a network of aviation professionals, both potential customers and like-minded aviation consultants. A clear and concise profile and the ability to publish on Pulse provide a fantastic platform to sharing your experience with the world and inviting people to actually reach out to you, before you reach out to them.

As professional as LinkedIn is, it is certainly not the only platform available and usable. I have noticed that, very unfortunately, aviation somehow seems to lag behind in modern Internet technologies. Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more common to see aviation companies and professionals on Facebook and Instagram. Especially the latter has, in my opinion, a huge potential for professional communication, even though on the surface it may appear as only a photography sharing platform. Twitter sums up the list of most common social media channels and it’s magnificence lies in the fact, that you can send a message to anyone – just by using their Twitter handle.

An important thing to remember is that you want all social media channels to be precise and show you as a human expert – so this may a good moment to get rid of those beer drinking pictures from Facebook.

Step 6 – Team Up With Others

If you take away only thing from this article, let it be this – try to team up with another aviation consultant. Preferably one who is already more experienced. He or she will not be able to give you work, but it may happen that they will need someone to help in a project in which they are involved. This way, you can go on your first (or second, or third…) project without the risk of being the only one on site.

Once you travel with a more experienced aviation consultant, you will have a great opportunity to learn and gain invaluable experience, which you can later use to set off on your own. Also, while you’re at a project, you are most likely to meet several other aviation professionals from other teams, working on other stuff. Network with them (yes, networking happens in real life just as much as it happens online).

Step 7 – Shape Your Personal Brand

But didn’t I just write a few paragraphs on digital personal branding? … Please don’t confuse digital branding with actually being a brand. It is you. Your name, your actions and your attitudes define you as a brand to which people (customers) will flock. Or stay away from.

Whoever you meet, whatever situation you find yourself in always remember that you are working on your brand name. Your professionalism, politeness, knowledge, appearance, etc. will all have an influence on how people see you and portray you to others.

So, whenever you can – shape your personal brand and make it shine like a diamond. Or at least a topaz.

Step 8 – Get Out There

I already mentioned that networking does not only happen on LinkedIn (some younger people may forget that from time to time). Get out there. Find conferences with free access passes (there are many, especially if you register early). Go there, talk to people. Send some invites over LinkedIn before you go – most of the aviation professionals in your network will be there, and (just like you) will look for opportunities to meet with others.

If you have people in your network who you actually know, send them an email from time to time or take them out for a coffee if they live nearby. You need to get out to be notices, recommended and eventually employed.

Step 9 – Be Creative

Don’t we hear it now everywhere? Creativity and innovation … maybe there’s some truth in the call for both of them? Try your best to be creative (but not silly) with the way you approach people. You can make a CV which really stands out from the crowd, create a personal web site that will make people want to come back just to look at it again. Use social media to your advantage in ways of which no one has ever thought before.

People like myself can attempt to give you some basic advise, but in many cases you will achieve your greatest success once you find new ways to get things done. This can be either as an aviation consultant or a house cook. Try to think outside the box. The aviation sector seems great for that, because somehow modern technologies don’t seem to be adapted by aviation companies as quickly as in some other branches. So here is your chance. Good luck!

The post 9 Steps to Become an Independent Aviation Consultant appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/9-steps-to-become-an-independent-aviation-consultant/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
2
Relationship Management in a Lease Transition Project http://michalswoboda.com/relationship-management-in-a-lease-transition-project/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/relationship-management-in-a-lease-transition-project/#comments
Wed, 26 Apr 2017 12:10:36 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=420 In my previous articles about the “10 most wanted qualities of an aviation technical consultant” as well as the “11 challenges in a lease transition project”, I have touched briefly on the need for proper relationship management in all such endeavors. Many of you, in your comments (mainly on LinkedIn), have pointed out that in […]

The post Relationship Management in a Lease Transition Project appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
In my previous articles about the “10 most wanted qualities of an aviation technical consultant” as well as the “11 challenges in a lease transition project”, I have touched briefly on the need for proper relationship management in all such endeavors. Many of you, in your comments (mainly on LinkedIn), have pointed out that in your experience the relationship between all involved parties is absolutely crucial to success (by the way – I am very glad that so many of my LinkedIn contacts took time to comment on those articles and let me know what they thought! I really value and appreciate that. It also motivates and inspires me to keep writing – thank you!).

It therefore only makes sense to write a little bit more about the challenges and possible difficulties in managing relationships with different parties, each of which have different (very often opposing) interests.

For the purpose of this article I have assumed a scenario in which the technical consultant is employed directly by the lessor to supervise and manage a lease transition project in which an aircraft of the lessor is being returned by the previous lessee, undergoes a delivery check in a third party MRO (hired and paid for by the previous lessee) and is subsequently delivered to the new lessee. So, from the consultant’s point of view, there are four parties involved in the process and they all need to be satisfied to a degree which will permit the project to be an efficient and timely success.

General Guidelines for Successful Relationship Management

Let’s start with restating the obvious – a few generic rules which, in my opinion, are crucial for building a successful and lasting relationship with anyone and in any circumstance:

  1. Respect and mutual understanding.

This is the mother, father, brother, sibling and lover of every human relationship. You need to respect the people around you and you should attempt to make them respect you. This can only be done through understanding of the other party’s needs, desires, problems and fears. Therefore, clear and concise communication is crucial as only then can such understanding be achieved. Also, one has to remember to communicate one’s own needs, desires, problems and fears to the world – otherwise we cannot expect people to understand and respect us.

  1. Do more than what you’re paid to do.

This is actually a quote from Zig Ziglar, which in full reads “Do more than you are being paid to do, and you’ll eventually be paid more for what you do.” I think this holds especially true if you’re a freelancer of any kind, particularly an aviation consultant. In our case, we’re not concerned with the pay as much as with establishing a proper relationship. When you reach out to people, try to solve their problems, go that extra mile regardless of whether you do it for your paying customer or for any other party, eventually the relationships will start to flourish and you can expect to get what you need in return.

  1. Give more than you take.

This is a bit of a paraphrase of the previous point, but not quite. First try to give. First try to help. Make the first step, initiate contact, suggest solutions to problems. Only then attempt to obtain assistance, help, information from others. This will make them feel more comfortable around you, and you will not be viewed as the “collector” who just arrives to take stuff and complain that he hasn’t gotten enough.

  1. Deliver correctly and on time.

Seems self-explanatory. Do what you say you will do. Do it on time. First of all, you will get your job done, but second – you will appear trustworthy and professional. People want to engage in relationships with such persons.

  1. Be honest. Always.

There will always be failure. There will always be things which even the most brilliant consultant will not get right. We’re human – we forget things, we misunderstand things. Basically – we fail. Constantly. And that’s OK as long as we keep being honest about it. Make sure your customers and all other parties know when things have gone wrong. This way they have a chance to react and to help you. And help they will once they see that your intentions are clear.

Relationship with the Lessor – the Customer

In my little scenario it is the lessor (the leasing company which owns the aircraft) who is the paying customer. The one who hired the consultant to represent their interests and assist in bringing the transition project to a successful finish. Let’s take a look at some items, which I believe are crucial in forming a successful and mutually beneficial relationship between the lessor and the consultant:

  1. Transparency and detailed information.

The purpose of hiring a consultant is to have an individual on site who will represent the customer (the lessor) and all of their interests with respect to the aircraft transition process. In many cases the project manager from the lessor will be located in a different country, often several time zones away. He or she will have several other projects to attend to, while keeping current with the progress at all times. Therefore it is crucial that the lessor project manager or technical director receives current information on a continuous basis. At the same time it is important not to clutter such persons mail box with unnecessary chatter by copying them in every single email ever sent. The sweet spot needs to be figured out over time, and if you work with the same technical director on more than one project, it will become obvious what is and what is not crucial for him or her.

Bottom line, however, is that they must feel that they have full knowledge of the process. Nothing can be kept hidden from them and all information which may influence their decisions must be readily available. This involves not only emails, but also conference calls and occasional meetings in person.

  1. Being self-sufficient

A consultant should be his own man (or woman). You are being hired to solve problems and not create more. Your hotel, access pass, difficult times with the host company, slow Internet connection – those are your problems and the customer should be able to trust that you will solve them yourself.

At the same time, however, your decision making ability is limited and you should always make sure that you don’t make important decisions without your customer’s consent (unless you two agreed otherwise). I think this aspect is really important in a well build consultant – customer relationship, as it needs to be built on trust.

  1. Clear opinions

I have learned that the hard way. You’re being hired as the expert. Therefore, you shouldn’t guess or “believe” things. Something either is or is not. Your employer will expect clear and concise opinions, based on which they can make their decisions. If you don’t know the answer to a question, let them know. But don’t leave them to guess – this is not why you have been sent there.

  1. Always care for your customers interests

After all, the lessor is your paying customer. They are setting aside a certain amount of money to buy themselves peace of mind that their (very expensive) asset is being taken care of by a knowledgeable and experienced person. Your actions will convince them that you care about their interests. If, at any time, you believe that those interests may be jeopardized you should inform them immediately.

Keeping an eye on those four main points should ensure a good working relationship with your customer. Once the leasing company is convinced that you know what you’re doing and that you will inform them about any important issues without troubling them every fifteen minutes with some basic questions, they will be happy to leave you to your work and collect the results. At the same time, you will have the confidence that they will support you when and if you actually need their help.

Relationship with the Previous Lessee

In many cases this is the most sensitive and difficult relationship to foster. The previous lessee is returning the aircraft. Sometimes, the return will finalize their client-customer agreement with the lessor, whereas at other times that relationship will continue (due to other leases being in place). In all cases, the lessor (your customer) will want to keep a very good relationship with the operator, as no one ever knows wat the future holds in store. Therefore I believe it is vital to adhere to the following:

  1. Cause as little stir-up and trouble as possible

You are there to obtain the necessary paperwork, review it and point out any discrepancies. No one will like that. After all, you are evaluating the work of an entire airworthiness department and, more likely than not, you will find things which you believe are incorrect or unclear. In other words – you are evaluating someone’s work.

Try to cause as little upstir as possible. Take whatever is being handed to you and try to obtain as much information from that as possible before asking for more. Be polite and allow the operator’s staff to take their time (although within reason) to reply to your requests. Thank them (and actually mean it) when they deliver.

Most important of all – don’t play the expert in front of them. Telling them that you have “done this for over twenty years” will hardly motivate them to help you. Remember that airline staff may just be as experienced and normally will possess great knowledge in their subject matter. Don’t undervalue that.

Waving the contract around and talking about what “they” are “obliged” to do is also not very helpful unless matters have really gone that far (in which case the words “good relationship” should hardly be used anymore).

  1. Understand and be understood

As a professional, you must make sure that the previous lessee fully understands why you came, what you need and why. You would be surprised at how many operators have excellent knowledge about how to run an airline, but close to zero understanding of the leasing business even if their entire fleet is leased. You may encounter situations in which the operator has no knowledge of the lease contract provisions and their responsibilities. Don’t get upset, don’t get cocky, just take your time to explain. Kindly and slowly. The better they understand you, the more likely a good cooperation may start.

On another take, make sure you talk to the previous lessee about their needs and greatest problems. Perhaps they have a hard time finding a paint slot for the aircraft? Or maybe their financial situation does not allow for swift ordering of parts? These issues can be handled between the lessee and the lessor (your customer) but you need to know them if you want to bring the process to a quick success. In some cases the airline staff may not want to tell you the truth right away – once you gain their trust and build a successful relationship you are likely to get to know their internal challenges and help them as much as possible.

  1. You’re not that Important – They have an Airline to Run!

It amazes me how often people tend to forget about that. The end or start of a lease is but a small, random process in an airline’s life. Their day to day struggle is with AOGs, delayed flights, managing maintenance and so forth. Don’t act and don’t expect to be treated like some sort of important persona. No one will (and, in fact, no one should) drop everything just to attend to your needs. If an airline has dedicated personnel for lease returns – great, but in many cases they do not. If this happens, whether you like it or not, you will have to fit in somewhere between an engine FOD and an unplanned weekly check in Guatemala.

As much as you should be firm to obtain the information you need, try to do so the most humble way possible. Show an understanding for their work and their daily stress. Having come from an airline background, I believe that I understand well how hectic life can get in an airworthiness department. If you want a good relationship with the operator’s staff, make sure you don’t get in the way of their daily routine.

Relationship with the new lessee

Although some relationship building advice may be similar as with the previous lessee, communication with the new lessee is a completely different story. The new lessee is a new customer, who has chosen that particular aircraft out of several other offers. Most likely, they have been promised an excellent product at a price they have agreed to pay. Furthermore, they need that aircraft at a certain date in order for it to commence operations – otherwise their entire roster may go down the drain. Especially if the new lessee is a smaller airline, the acceptance will be a really big deal for them. To establish a good relationship, make sure that you treat them like it’s a really big deal for you as well (even if you “do” five transitions a year).

  1. The Customer is (Almost) Always King

The new lessee is the Customer with capital “C”. Indirectly also your customer, as you have been hired only because they chose to lease the aircraft from the lessor who employed you. That makes them king to a certain degree. Of course, they must accept the aircraft in accordance with the contract provisions. But treat them like a customer – help them with everything they may require help with.

  1. Understand and be understood

Just like with the previous lessee, make sure you clearly understand the new lessee’s needs. Are they in a hurry and need the aircraft as soon as possible? Or can they wait but need really top-notch, out of the ordinary paperwork to satisfy their very strict national authority? Are they very experienced and know exactly what they need, or are they a start-up and require some guidance and assistance? The better you understand them, the better you can help.

Just as previously, also here it is important to be well understood. Especially that in some cases the new lessee may not be yet very well established and may lack some experience and internal procedures. Rather than taking advantage of their lack of experience, help them and point out to them the really important aspects of a lease acceptance. You will have a great relationship for life, and this is crucial as the lease will last several years. Your customer will thank you for it.

  1. Work with them (if possible)

Unless there is clearly bad faith from the new lessee, you should work with them and not against them. Help them find discrepancies and share with them the ones which you found. After all, it is the interest of both of you to have a well delivered aircraft. For your customer, this is a high valued asset which needs to be maintained as good as possible, and for the new lessee it is something they will be selling to their passengers every day for the next few years.

In some cases playing “open book” with the new lessee may be working against you, especially if the new lessee has an interest in delaying the delivery (see point 1). However, if this is not the case, working together brings great results and develops and internal feeling of trust both personally and between companies.

Conclusion

This article has turned out much longer than I originally intended. If you stayed with me this far – thank you! I meant to write additionally about the relationship with the MRO, but I think I will leave this for a separate article, as it is completely different pair of shoes.

In general, I believe that it is crucial to stay honest, open and true with everyone. This way, we can build lasting relationships which will pay off over many years (after all, there aren’t all that many airlines and leasing companies out there). Good luck with your endeavors!

The post Relationship Management in a Lease Transition Project appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/relationship-management-in-a-lease-transition-project/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
1
Freelancing in a Niche Business – The Ultimate Guide http://michalswoboda.com/freelancing-in-a-niche-business-the-ultimate-guide/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/freelancing-in-a-niche-business-the-ultimate-guide/#comments
Wed, 01 Feb 2017 14:51:08 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=414 Freelancing is gaining momentum. More companies than ever before are willing to hire freelancers and also more professionals are considering to switch what used to be called a “steady 9 to 5” to a freelancing venture. Still, freelancing is often associated with a few specific braches which seem to be made for that kind of […]

The post Freelancing in a Niche Business – The Ultimate Guide appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
Freelancing is gaining momentum. More companies than ever before are willing to hire freelancers and also more professionals are considering to switch what used to be called a “steady 9 to 5” to a freelancing venture. Still, freelancing is often associated with a few specific braches which seem to be made for that kind of employment type. And so, in the minds of many, freelancing is a viable option only for journalists, graphic designers, architects, programmers of photographers. Perhaps also for a few others. But what if you’re not experienced in any typical “freelance” career? Are you stuck or can you still consider starting your own little business and taking responsibility for your professional life?

I have been a freelancer for about 5 years now. My primary field of expertise is the airworthiness of commercial aircraft. How’s that for a freelance gig? First of all – can you be any more boring (actually, you can, planes are pretty exciting!) ? And second – aren’t airlines those huge corporations, with lots of worker’s unions, bureaucratic procedures, etc.? Is it possible to freelance in such an environment?

It is. And I’m confident that if it is possible in the airline industry, it will also be possible in whichever field you happen to be an expert in. Freelancing in a niche business – if you think about giving it a try but are unsure if it will be worth it and how to do it, please read on.

Why Freelancing is a Wise Choice for the Modern Expert

There are numerous reasons why, as a modern 21st century expert, you should consider freelancing. I will go over them in detail in several other blog posts but it seems like a good idea to give you a heads up on what’s to come:

You are obliged to provide value to the world.

I’m very strict on this. You are an expert. You know your stuff. You make good money using your knowledge. This is great. But, if you haven’t experienced it yet, you will one day find out that this is not enough. The world wants you to give back. To share. And as a freelancer you can do that. You help various clients (rather than just your employer) and you’re also free to blog, write books and share your experience with others. Freelancing allows you to do work for free, as well as for money. This may seem a strange “benefit” of freelancing, but sooner than later you will find out just how valuable this is.

You get to choose who you work for

Maybe not in the very first month. But eventually, you will be able to work for the people (yes, people, rather than companies) whom you trust, whom you appreciate and who deliver value to your business and experience. To me, this was always crucial. There is nothing more negative than working for people who drain your power and emotions. Choose wisely, and each project will be a great experience rather than just a nuisance.

You have more time

I have heard time and time again that once you on your own, time is gone. There is a myth that once you own a business, you work 24/7. Indeed, your total working time will certainly exceed the typical 8 hours a day known from typical employment. However, it is not about the amount of hours you have to put in, but about the flexibility. As a freelancer you can work in the middle of the night or very early in the morning. You can arrange your time in a way which suits you best. And when you work, you actually work (remember those coffee brakes and meaningless meetings in the office? None of that anymore). Time is crucial when you’re on your own. Therefore, you will have to make the most of it, while at the same time arranging for sufficient time with your family and friends. If this sounds scary – don’t be alarmed. It works out much better than during a nine-to-five.

You’re independent and responsible for your own actions

Every man’s (and, presumably, every woman’s) dream. Independence. You literally shape your life. Every success is yours to have. So is every failure. If you did something, then it is done. If you didn’t do it – you will suffer the consequences and there is no one else to blame. This is the taste of freedom and being your own boss. In reality, much more than just a boss – your whole life becomes interconnected with the work you do, and hence you need to become fully in charge of your life. If you ever felt that life is living you, rather than the other way around, be assured that this will not happen when you start to freelance. For better or worse, you are responsible for all your actions.

Great job security

Yes, you read that right. Times have changed significantly over the last twenty years, and this means that even if you’re fairly young, you were taught by people who lived in a completely different world. There is no such thing as a solid career for an entire life anymore. If you work in a “steady job” your job is indeed everything but steady. Companies fall, positions are being reduced, people are being replaced with younger (and cheaper) ones. Employees themselves often quit. There is absolutely zero job security in a “steady job”. None. To make matters worse, people with steady paychecks somehow seem to believe that they are safe. Which makes loosing employment even more difficult. As a freelancer you don’t have to worry about all that. As a matter of fact, you are continuously looking for work – that’s what freelancing is all about. You will end up having many customers and the disappearance of one of them, although unpleasant, is not the end of the world. As Warren Buffet said – don’t place your eggs in one basket. One steady employer – great risk of losing your only stream of income.

Is Freelancing in a Niche Business More Risky?

I believe that, as a freelancer, you should at least try to spread your wings in a niche business. In fact – the smaller, the better. This may sound counterintuitive, but I will try to give you examples and hints as to why it is better to be your own boss in a small niche rather than in a huge market.

Small Competition

That’s the easy one. In a niche market, competition will be very small. Meaning both the amount of competitors as well as their size. If you have a carefully chosen niche, you will likely not have to compete against huge consulting corporations. This also means that your potential clients are not used to work with those international firms and are more likely to accept you as who you are – a person with the right experience to help them out.

It is (Relatively) Easy to Brand Yourself as an Expert

I have already written a post about the importance of personal branding, and I will certainly write many more in due course. Whether you like it or not, you are a brand. You need to use that brand to get customers just as you need to use your brand to find a future spouse. That’s how it works.

Personal branding is a very complex subject, but part of it is digital personal branding. This involves all the actions you perform online to create a virtual image of yourself. This may include a personal website, blog, several social media accounts, participation in specialist forums, etc. Again, the size of the competition is of crucial importance. In a niche business, it will be much easier to occupy the first page of Google search results. Therefore, it would be much more difficult to brand yourself as a “fitness guru” than to brand yourself as an “expert in the use of thermography for detection of water ingress in composite materials”. Of course, the market for the former is probably millions of searches per day, whereas for the latter it may be a few hundred per month. But they will be your few hundred potential customers. Those millions for the “fitness guru” will go to companies which have occupied the market several years ago.

Networking is a Breeze

If you’re already working in a niche business, or perhaps have a very niche hobby, you know the problem well – continuous lack of resources online. We got used to believing that everything can be found on the Internet. This is simply not true. In many cases, it’s impossible to find a resourceful authority site or a good forum with active members if you are highly specialized.

But guess what? There are more people like you, who are looking for the exact same thing. Therefore, as soon as you become active in any way (be it through a website, blog or just simple LinkedIn posts) you will get the attention of likeminded individuals.

And as soon as you get a like or a follow from any of them, it should be very easy to get in touch and say hello. You will have gained their natural trust just be being an expert in a field which they also like and profit from. People really like reading about what they do, and about experiences similar to their own. Give it a try, and you will not be disappointed.

Main Challenges in Starting Your Freelancing Career

Self-Motivation and Persistence

I think this is a problem that every freelancer (or self-employed person) will have encountered at one point or another. Self-motivation and persistence. You have no boss. No one to tell you what to do. You can work, or you can relax. You can write or you can watch your favorite YouTube account. It is only up to you.

Once you have motivated yourself and did some work, you will quickly realize that at the very beginning that work may not bring you anything. Your blog may have zero visitors, the phone may not ring for the second week in a row. It’s easy to give up. To tell yourself that either the idea or, worse, the idea holder is not good. Persistence is key – do not give up until you have very clear signs that your method is not efficient. And even if that happens revise the method, not the goal.

Creativity

This word haunts me. It seems that nowadays everyone must be creative. No job description even calls for a non-creative person. Even accountants are expected to have some level of creativity, although whether this is fully legal I can’t be sure.

As a freelancer you will be no exception. You will need to be creative, and I mean really creative – this time you don’t have to prove your creativity to yet another HR assistant, you actually need to do creative things to get out there and get some work coming in.

With limited resources, as starting freelancers often are, you will need to figure out how to promote yourself, how to get the tools you need to do your work, and last but not least – what to eat while you wait for your first customer. Creativity!

Patience

If there would be only one thing which I’m not it would be this – patient. Most of people my age and younger seems to have the same problem. We have been raised in a society which expects immediate gratification for their actions. I knew people who, as soon as they got a raise (i.e. as soon as they were told that their next paycheck would be greater than the previous one) ran to a computer store and bought a new TV set. Of course in monthly installments. The additional money was spent before they even had a chance to physically see it.

As a freelancer, patience is your new best friend. Every branding and marketing technique, every piece of work you put into anything that you do, will generate benefits in due course. But this due course may take months, and sometimes years to be fully seen. You always work for the future, which is very different from being employed – employees work for now. For the next paycheck. What happens after that is a mystery, which they cannot influence. Once you’re a freelancer this changes – you work today in order to get enhanced compensation later. Sometimes much later.

I think most people fail due to impatience rather than anything else.

Self-Confidence

Another crucial factor in making it as a freelancer, especially in a niche business. You will be on your own. This means that your self-confidence is crucial – no one else will be confident that you can get the job done unless you are.

It takes a lot of self-confidence to go out there and start convincing people that you will be the right choice for their needs. There are still people out there, sometimes even international experts in a narrow field, who cannot make themselves upload a photo to their LinkedIn account thereby limiting significantly the number of connections they could make. If you are not self-confident enough to even show your face on social media, you should really consider working on this a bit. You need to be visible in order to be reachable.

Care must be taken though, because self-confidence is often confused with arrogance. The key here is that you must be self-confident within yourself. You don’t need to go telling people how good you are (show them how good you are, instead). Nobody will work with an arrogant freelancer. Even in a niche business they will be able to find someone nicer.

Getting Your First Customers

There are several methods of finding your first customers and they may depend on the niche business you are specifically dealing with. However, there are a few techniques which I believe should work for every freelancer out there.

Personal Branding

I keep going back to personal branding, as I think this is very often overlooked and not treated with the respect it deserves. You are a brand. At the end of the day, people will hire you. Not your skills, not your CV, not even your blog but you. Who you are and how you do the things you do will often determine between success and failure. Leaving your personal brand to chance seems irresponsible.

There are two main factors in a personal brand. One is what I would call the “actual personal brand”, which is a set of traits that make us up as people. It’s a mix of things like integrity, honesty, ability to work hard, a feel for good style, extrovertist or introvertist, etc. All character traits, believes, values, even looks – they make up a brand. They are what people see and feel when they meet you.

The second factor is your digital personal brand. This is before people meet you. In many cases, before the meeting takes place you will be thoroughly checked out online. Digital branding is a must. You can read more about it in “Is Digital Branding a Must?”. You have a digital brand whether you like it or not.

Networking

For a freelancer, networking is a perfect way to get clients. As an expert in your niche business, you can network with other individuals who are in a similar position, in which case they can share their business contacts and perhaps work with you on a joint venture basis, or you can choose to connect with people who are deeply connected with your niche but on a managerial or less technical level. This way, you can suggest to them your assistance in problems they may be experiencing.

Publishing

Did I already mention that as a freelancer you will need to develop your digital personal brand? Part of this will be publishing. Online presence is accomplished mainly through inline publishing and it may be difficult to get away from writing at least once in a while. You don’t have to be an expert writer, but it would be good to release an article once in a while. If you really don’t want to have your own blog, you ca try any of the available publishing platforms, such as LinkedIn Pulse, which is my favorite as it gives you automatically a possibility to connect with those readers who have liked or shared your article.

As an article writer you assure people that you know your subject matter. In a niche business, this is particularly useful, as the people within the niche don’t get to read about their favorite topics all that often (which is why we call it a niche). They will gladly ready everything you are willing to write and they will offer insightful comments and lead to nice, meaningful discussions. At the same time, you will be on their mind if they ever look for someone like you to do a job.

I hope I managed to get up your appetite for a freelancing job at least to some level. I intend to write several more articles on the matter, each being more specific but focusing one issue at a time. Consider this article as a starting guide, and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or send me a message!

Michal Swoboda

The post Freelancing in a Niche Business – The Ultimate Guide appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/freelancing-in-a-niche-business-the-ultimate-guide/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
3
Is Digital Personal Branding a Must? http://michalswoboda.com/is-digital-personal-branding-a-must/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/is-digital-personal-branding-a-must/#respond
Fri, 27 Jan 2017 12:00:42 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=409 We have all heard it. Personal brands, LinkedIn profiles, Facebook fan pages, Twitter messages, Snapchat videos, you name it. The internet seems to be yelling “Get out there! Show yourself!”. This may leave many people wondering whether they really should participate in the seemingly endless race for top digital celebrity, be it in the professional […]

The post Is Digital Personal Branding a Must? appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
We have all heard it. Personal brands, LinkedIn profiles, Facebook fan pages, Twitter messages, Snapchat videos, you name it. The internet seems to be yelling “Get out there! Show yourself!”. This may leave many people wondering whether they really should participate in the seemingly endless race for top digital celebrity, be it in the professional or social world. Not everyone must be confident that this is something for them. But is digital personal branding really a must in the XXI century?

Branding Always Played a Role

Let’s move back to the prior-digital era. We don’t even have to move far, even in the 90s, with the internet already in its rolling phase, social media was not a bit as popular and as desired as it is today.

However, the personal need to brand oneself was not any less common. Basically everything people do (or did back then) was part of creating their personal brand – even if they never saw it this way.

The way you talk, the posture you hold, the color of your clothes and the cut of your hair, the car you choose in the dealership and the books you read and place on your bookshelf – all these things are part of your personal brand.

Of course, before the internet connected us all the impact of any personal brand was very limited. Unless someone turned up on the cover of “People”, the influence of his or her brand would have been limited to friends, family, coworkers and perhaps some random people met on the subway.

As much as the internet has changed all that, the way personal brands have been created, the way they have been perceived and the impact they had on one’s life was roughly the same as it is today.

You Already Have a Digital Personal Brand

It’s true. Whether you like it or not, you already have a digital brand. Whatever you do online leaves a thread which can be followed and which will leave an impression on the people who choose to follow you.

Most of you will have Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and LinkedIn pages. You follow your favorite blogs, write an occasional comment (in most cases to articles you don’t fully agree with) and tweet your momentary thoughts. It’s a brand. You are who you are and you show it to whoever wants to look.

Or maybe you chose to ignore the most common tools online and refuse to create a profile on any social media platform? Well, this is branding as well. It may feel safe when no one can find you online, but this also tells them something. And, additionally, someone else may write about you and that information will then become part of your digital brand.

There is no escaping it. The virtual world exists and all of us play a part in it. Even if only unwillingly or unknowingly.

Personal Brand Management

If you already have a personal brand (and you cannot do much to avoid that) it would be rather unwise to leave it to chance. Just as you dress differently for work than you do while doing your house chores, it may well pay off to make sure that the image you are offering to people online depicts the best side of you.

Employment seems to be moving away from what once used to be considered a steady career, meant to last for a lifetime (or at least some 15-20 years). It is likely that many of us will be switching jobs every few years or start their own micro businesses and become freelancers in their field of expertise.

I believe most (if not all) employers do a quick check in Google about a prospective candidate. And if you’re a freelancer – there’s a close to 100% chance that your future client will try to gather as much information about you as possible. Managing your personal brand is making sure that they see the best in you and can make a correct (honest) opinion on whether you are suitable for the work they have to offer.

Never in history was it easier to create a meaningful personal brand. Also, it was never easier to create a completely wrong impression. The tools are available for everyone for free, anyone can use them. However, like with many other common use products, there is always a numerous group of people who don’t fully understand how they work and how they can benefit (or harm) them.

The Benefits of Managing Your Digital Personal Brand

There are vast benefits to having a properly managed and correctly created digital personal brand. They will become visible in various aspects of your life, from professional, through social and all the way up to romantic and altruistic.

Modern business is all about networking. As a matter of fact, business has always been about networking. But the origin of interpersonal connections has been different then than it is now. Connecting with people through LinkedIn, for example, is a fantastic way to learn, drive your business or seek employment opportunities. But how successful you will be is highly dependent on the digital brand you have to show.

Social engagement is thriving. We are free to engage socially with almost anyone, support any cause and try to have our voice heard in any matter. We do it, but so do millions of other people. If you want to stand out from the crowd, be heard and make an impact you need something that will draw people’s attention. That something is nothing else but the effort you put into your personal brand management. The more people know about you and the things which you consider important, the more likely they are to identify you as a potential partner – be it a partner in discussion, a partner in business or a partner for life.

This is, of course, not to say that anyone should neglect the importance of personal, physical meetings. They are crucial, perhaps even more so now, when so much socializing is being done online. However, just as you “dress to impress” for one of your black tie affairs, you should also consider the same for all your digital ventures.

The Difficulties in Managing and Sustaining a Valuable Personal Brand

There are seemingly no technical difficulties in creating and sustaining a proper digital personal brand. And yet, many people seem to struggle with the process, perhaps a bit overwhelmed with the amount of possibilities they are being offered and the distinct features which differentiate different social media platforms.

For some people, it may be difficult to make the leap. It often takes some internal courage to start a digital profile in social media or indulge into writing weekly blog posts. Just consider how many LinkedIn profiles don’t have an uploaded picture. For some reason, there may be an element of fear or shame associated with the idea of publicly posting even your picture. This is certainly not helping the branding process.

Also, digital personal branding takes time, patience and – if you really want to get out there – quite a bit of work. Very often people start caring about their online personal brand when they happen to be looking for a job. Once they find it, they forget all about their brand, probably believing that the new position will be forever. Of course, it’s not. They are forced to come back to where they left off some years ago. Personal branding is an ongoing process and it is much easier to create a coherent and honest brand when you are employed rather than when you are urgently looking for a new position.

In all cases, digital personal branding will take a lot of time. Regardless of whether you are writing a blog or engaging in some professional forums or LinkedIn groups – perseverance and patience is key. Unless you happen, often by sheer luck, to write a viral going post which will give you millions of views in a single day, you will need to be well prepared and just let time take it’s course. That’s how the internet (and Google) works. So does the human mind. The often people see something, the more it sinks into their minds. And the opportunity you are waiting for my become available several months from now.

So is Digital Personal Branding a Must?

Basically, yes. It is not possible to escape from the fact, that employers, business partners, friends and even loved ones may be checking up on us online. Technically, one can try to make sure that not a single piece of information is available online, but this leaves open space for someone else to write about us. And considering that most people do use social media platforms for different purposes, it is safe to assume that you already have a digital personal brand. But is it really properly managed?

Michal Swoboda

The post Is Digital Personal Branding a Must? appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/is-digital-personal-branding-a-must/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
0
11 Challenges in an Aircraft Lease Transition Project http://michalswoboda.com/11-challenges-in-an-aircraft-lease-transition-project/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/11-challenges-in-an-aircraft-lease-transition-project/#respond
Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:27:22 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=406 The career of an aviation technical consultant or lessor representative will be filled mainly with lease transitions projects. Those are projects which involve accepting an aircraft from the previous lessee and delivering it to the next one. Normally at least three parties are involved, with the consultant sitting between all of them and having the […]

The post 11 Challenges in an Aircraft Lease Transition Project appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
The career of an aviation technical consultant or lessor representative will be filled mainly with lease transitions projects. Those are projects which involve accepting an aircraft from the previous lessee and delivering it to the next one. Normally at least three parties are involved, with the consultant sitting between all of them and having the responsibility to satisfy each party’s demands as much as possible. In this article I describe briefly what I think the main challenges during such a project are. I have divided them into three main categories: Contractual Obligations, Technical Records Preparation and Delivery Check Supervision. As the list is, as usual, not exhaustive – please leave a comment and let me know what you would add to it!

CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS

  1. Return vs. Delivery Conditions

The return conditions specify how the previous lessee should redeliver an aircraft, whereas the delivery conditions state how the aircraft should be delivered to the next lessee. In a perfect world, they should match. In the real world, they hardly ever do. Be it a requirement for a specific modification, a different carpet color or additional emergency equipment, there will likely be something that needs to be changed in between. To make matters simple and more cost effective, it is often unnecessary to force the previous lessee to completely satisfy their return conditions (for example by removing additional emergency equipment) just to find out that the new lessee requires the same equipment installed again. This way, some of the contractual obligations become a gray area, and need to be carefully managed.

  1. Timeframe

Time is always crucial. Both contracts will specify a return date and a delivery date. Those dates should be the same, as the aircraft cannot be left without an operator even for one day unless one wants to go through the trouble of arranging a third party CAMO, additional maintenance, etc. Because the dates should be the same, a delay in one will certainly cause a delay in the other. Another challenging aspect, as those dates need to be carefully managed and discussed to the satisfaction of all involved parties.

  1. Age of components

Some leasing contracts require the lessee to ensure that components installed on the aircraft do not exceed (or only slightly exceed) the age of the airframe. In many cases lessees tend to forget that provision and install whatever component happens to be available. The replacement of such components can be very costly and time consuming, so this would be another item to watch out for.

  1. Cost reimbursements

Nothing ever goes fully according to plan. In many cases, either some return or some delivery conditions will not be met. This may be due to lack of parts, lack of time or simply because they turn out not to be economically viable. Such discrepancies are, in most cases, solved through financial reimbursements. And as much as such negotiations are always carried out by the lessor, a consultant may be asked to provide his or her opinion on the matter and perhaps assist in the estimation of costs.

TECHNICAL RECORDS PREPARATION

  1. Acquisition of all the records

Clearly, a lease transition requires access to all the aircraft technical records. Particularly for older aircraft, which have gone through several airlines, it may be challenging to create complete sets of records from the aircraft’s entire life. This is also due to the fact, that typically airlines and leasing companies keep every single piece of paper, regardless of whether it is actually required or not. Sometimes, during a lease transition, one has to repackage and re-label twenty year old technical log books even though no regulation requires them to be kept. Finding that little piece of data which is actually crucial (for example for a back to birth trace of a life limited component) may be challenging.

  1. Record verification and conflicts with current lessee

The aircraft paperwork consists of actual records (work packages, technical log books, shop visit reports, etc.) and statuses created by the operator. During the record review it will often happen that some things appear missing or incorrectly recorded. There are no precise guidelines or regulations which clearly state what form a given status should have. This often leads to conflicts with airlines – the new lessee will likely have different standards than the current lessee and may not be willing to accept the form in which the information is presented. At the same time, the current lessee is often not willing to change the format or the presentation method, as it is generated by their computer system and is also a lifelong “tradition” of that given airline. Managing such conflicts is typically a challenge.

  1. Digitizing documents

We live in the 21st century and most people and organizations will expect to have a digital copy of all records and documents (supplemented by hard copies, where necessary). As simple as it sounds, this often leads to technical problems. Operators scan documents in their own way, store them in their own databases, decide freely on which documents to scan and which not. It happens that scanned documents are available only through an airline’s airworthiness management system and become useless, once extracted (for example due to meaningless – from a human perspective – file names). This often leads to the necessity of re-scanning the same documents over and over again.

DELIVERY CHECK SUPERVISION

  1. Oversight of the check

The need to oversee a check (or manage it) is obvious. However, the aircraft is typically still under the control of the previous operator, who will assign their own check manager and control the check in their own way. This often leads to confusion and “getting in each other’s way”. It can also confuse an MRO, particularly one unexperienced in lease transitions, as they may not know whom they should actually listen too. Holding regular meetings and ensuring full and complete clarity of the entire process is crucial to successful completion of the check.

  1. Managing two discrepancy lists – yours and the new lessee’s

Prior to redelivery the aircraft will be inspected by the consultant (on behalf of the lessor) and also by the new lessee. This yields two discrepancy lists and – let’s be honest – they will always be different lists. Major items will probably appear on both, but in many cases the list entries will not be correlated. Some lessors take an approach of playing open book and sharing their list with the new lessee, which clears things a lot. However, many do not. In this case, managing both lists at the same time and ensuring that all discrepancies are fixed during the check may be challenging.

  1. Modification management

Often, several modifications will be embodied on an aircraft during its delivery check. This may include cabin interior mods, avionic mods and several others. It is crucial to determine upfront which mods need to be done by the previous lessee (for example the de-modification of some changes, which they have incorporated while operating the aircraft) and which need to be done by the lessor to satisfy the new lessee’s delivery conditions. This means that some mods may be created by a Part 21 chosen by the current lessee whereas others will need to be ordered and overseen by the consultant. Also, it may seems appealing to perform all modifications under the same work order as the delivery check, but this causes issues with cost distribution for the manpower (the MRO will likely issue one invoice for the check, which will then need to be divided between the current lessee and the lessor).

  1. Material supply

Slightly similar to point 3 above, material supply will normally be handled by the current lessee with the exception of modifications or some special (non-airworthiness related) component replacements required by the new lessee’s delivery conditions. If not managed properly from the beginning, this may easily become a struggle as it will not be clear who orders the components and who needs to pay for them.

*        *        *

Every aircraft lease transition project comes with its own challenges. I tried to briefly describe the few which happen most often and for which one should be prepared at all times. Please comment on what you would add to the list? It would be great if you could share your experiences with me!

The post 11 Challenges in an Aircraft Lease Transition Project appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/11-challenges-in-an-aircraft-lease-transition-project/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
0
10 Most Wanted Qualities of an Aviation Technical Consultant http://michalswoboda.com/10-most-wanted-qualities-of-an-aviation-technical-consultant/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/10-most-wanted-qualities-of-an-aviation-technical-consultant/#comments
Wed, 05 Oct 2016 09:01:30 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=395 Working as an aviation technical consultant is a job like no other. In most cases it involves close cooperation with at least three parties with opposite interests, vast legal and technical knowledge about the aircraft and applicable aviation regulations, challenging deadlines in a very unpredictable environment and all this abroad, in an unknown location and […]

The post 10 Most Wanted Qualities of an Aviation Technical Consultant appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
Working as an aviation technical consultant is a job like no other. In most cases it involves close cooperation with at least three parties with opposite interests, vast legal and technical knowledge about the aircraft and applicable aviation regulations, challenging deadlines in a very unpredictable environment and all this abroad, in an unknown location and with an international team of people one has never met before. It certainly requires some skills, but also a set of soft qualities which enable the consultant to get his or her job done in a manner which will satisfy not only the direct customer, but also all other involved parties.

Let’s take a look at some qualities I believe are crucial for a successful aircraft transition or repossession:

  1. Knowledge

I put knowledge first, as without it the remaining traits will likely not be valuable to the leasing company or airline which the aviation consultant represents. There are several types of knowledge a technical representative requires, including technical knowledge of the aircraft, very good knowledge of the aviation regulations (one has to remember that a consultant works internationally, and the regulations may change from location to location), experience in technical records keeping, knowledge of most commonly used company procedures within airlines as well as between airlines and MROS and/or lessors, and finally some business knowledge to better understand each party’s needs.

It’s difficult to be a world renowned expert in each field, but a consultant should have enough of everything in order to provide the best possible service and minimize the risk of making a costly mistake in the process.

  1. Willingness to learn

Having in mind the necessity for knowledge and the fact that no one knows it all, strong willingness to learn and a drive for continuous self-improvement is crucial. Many times an experienced professional may fall into the trap of narcissism, in which he or she believes to have done it all and seen it all. Such a conviction may be deadly for any project.

No two projects are the same, no two companies operate in the same manner and even regulations change once in a while. Every transition project is a learning curve and every person met along the way may have something valuable to add to our experience. Closing yourself to them and not attempting to learn new things will certainly not benefit anyone.

  1. Self-confidence

It is not possible to achieve self-confidence without having vast knowledge and continually expanding on it. Confident people appear as more trustworthy and trust is crucial during any delivery process. An aviation consultant cannot guess – if you offer someone advice, it has to be correct and you have to stand to your opinion.

Self-confidence should not be confused with arrogance. On the contrary, being self-confident and yet humble will make your customer and the remaining parties feel comfortable in listening to your opinions and entrusting you with any problems or concerns which they may have.

  1. Communication skills (diplomacy)

I think it’s safe to say that every aircraft transition process will involve conflicts. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but there will always be issues on which the lessor and lessee disagree, and in most cases the consultant is in the middle – in need to satisfy customer requirements while maintaining a good working relationship with the other party.

An excellent sense of diplomacy and great communication skills are crucial. This involves a fair amount of guessing people’s intentions, understanding their true needs and responding to those needs in a way which allows people to be fairly satisfied, even if a compromise was not what they originally aimed for. It also involves a clear understanding of the contractual obligations and the ability to communicate the responsibilities clearly to the lessee.

At the same time, also from the customer’s side a consultant will work not only with the asset manager, but often also with lawyers and even sales personnel. All those people view the aircraft transition process from different perspectives. Hence, it is mandatory to be able to talk to all of them in a manner which makes them understand any given situation.

Communication skills and diplomacy are what glues together the, sometimes very complex, relationship between new lessee – lessor – previous lessee – MRO.

  1. Problem solving galore

That’s why aviation consultants are hired in the first place – to solve problems. A large variety of them. From issues related to the aircraft directly (maintenance flaws, records issues) to many indirect problems, such as assistance in finding a required component, efficient travelling between different facilities or overcoming import tax regulations in an exotic country.

Solving problems is a complex process, but in general it just means thinking outside the box and not giving up, while keeping a close watch at the timeframe, as deadlines tend to creep up on almost every project.

  1. Networking

At some point during a transition process, external services or simple help will be required. Cannot find that particular bulletin you were looking for? The airline cannot arrange a quick transport of the records? You need to know the average price for overhauled fuel pumps? A good network of aviation professionals will solve those issues. If you ever encounter a problem, there is a great chance that someone has encountered it before. Just ask!

LinkedIn is a fantastic way to keep everyone you ever met and exchanged business cards with at hands reach. And people will help you – society has long learned that offering selfless assistance can be very beneficial in the future. And remember – whatever you get out of your network, be sure to put in double! This way the system works.

  1. Well suited

Books are being judged by their cover. You have about 10 to 15 seconds to make a first impression, which will never be erased again. Proper attire is crucial to appear professional and to show the right level of respect for whoever you happen to be working with. Remember that an aviation consultant is also referred to as a “technical representative”. You represent your customer – dress for the part.

Dress code is generally not very strict in airline environments. Suit and tie will not be necessary. But a wrinkled T-shirt or that old sweater are probably not the best choice…

  1. Language

Aviation is international. Everyone in the business is using English. Manuals and other instructions as well as technical records are also written in English. Therefore, a very sound knowledge of that language is a must. A consultant must be proficient in English both in speaking and writing, as plenty of communication is taking place via email.

Surprisingly, one can overdo it. I have found that at times “native” English speakers create a language barrier. Because their English is perfect, they often speak (and write) in a manner which is difficult to understand for people from non-English speaking countries. So if you’re a “native” please keep in mind that others are not – make it clear and simple. Otherwise people may be stressed just by the fact that they need to talk to you and will end up avoiding communication.

  1. Travel fanatic

An aviation consultant travels. A lot. You have to take at least some pleasure in air travel, hotel stays, visiting different places and working with people from different cultures. Being open-minded is crucial, as most often the situation you encounter is far from what one could have expected. Not necessarily in a bad way, just surprisingly different.

Most people claim to enjoy travelling, but it is important to realize that going somewhere to work for a few months differs from a tourist trip. On the other hand, I find it much more rewarding because it allows to actually see how people live and gives a broader understanding of the differences and similarities between different societies.

  1. Enjoy your own company

I believe that an aviation consultant should be a bit of a loner. Not in the sense of not enjoying the company of others – after all, you will always work with people – but by being perfectly happy on their own. In many projects, a consultant will be on his/her own far away from home. This is never easy, but it must give you certain comfort and you must get by alone. After all, your communicating skills at work will greatly suffer if you’re frustrated and unhappy.

I hope you enjoyed the article. The list above is certainly not exhaustive, please feel free to comment and add your own qualities.

The post 10 Most Wanted Qualities of an Aviation Technical Consultant appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/10-most-wanted-qualities-of-an-aviation-technical-consultant/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
1
Are we Ready for 21st Century Digital Aircraft Records in a Leasing Environment? http://michalswoboda.com/are-we-ready-for-21st-century-digital-aircraft-records-in-a-leasing-environment/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/are-we-ready-for-21st-century-digital-aircraft-records-in-a-leasing-environment/#comments
Tue, 27 Sep 2016 09:45:30 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=391 Boxes. Countless boxes. We have all seen them, we have been digging through them, we analyzed and reviewed the content and packaged it into new, better looking boxes. The importance of historical aircraft records cannot be underestimated as the records are not only defining the aircraft’s current airworthiness status, but may also have a great […]

The post Are we Ready for 21st Century Digital Aircraft Records in a Leasing Environment? appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
Boxes. Countless boxes. We have all seen them, we have been digging through them, we analyzed and reviewed the content and packaged it into new, better looking boxes. The importance of historical aircraft records cannot be underestimated as the records are not only defining the aircraft’s current airworthiness status, but may also have a great impact on the overall value of the asset.

However, we live in an era in which paper seems to be at the end of its career. We don’t, normally, communicate on paper anymore. On the contrary, many companies introduce special programs to downsize the need for printing in order to reduce overhead costs and show their care about the environment. An email is just as a good as a written note and a digitally signed PDF is taking the place of a signed and stamped document.

The aviation business still seems to be a step behind in the utilization of modern technologies for keeping and managing an enormous amount of data which comes with each aircraft.

The traditional approach to aircraft records may be obsolete

When I originally started my aviation career a decade ago, paper was king. Maintenance manuals and even the IPC were provided in hard copy and semi-annual revisions were couriered by the manufacturer as standalone pages, to be inserted into thick binders. That was also the time when Facebook and LinkedIn were in their cradle life stages and a Blackberry was probably the smartest phone on the market…

In as much as most aircraft manufacturers have long switched to digital revision systems for their maintenance and ops manuals, many airlines still lag behind with their maintenance paper trail. With paper TLBs and printed task cards, the amount of printed technical records grows at an incredible pace.

In order to keep it digital, reduce personnel workload and cut printing costs, airlines are using various kinds of airworthiness software, which – aside from its main purpose, which is airworthiness management and maintenance planning – also keeps digital copies of most paper documents. Those copies are often simple PDFs, which may or may not have gone through an OCR process and may or may not be searchable.

As long as those documents are within the airline system, all works great. The transition moment puts the software and the record keeping system to a test. For leased aircraft, eventually there will be a need to share the historical records with the lessor, who then will want to share them with the next airline customer.

In many cases, physical inspection of the original, boxed paper documents cannot be avoided. The digital files are often not complete, difficult to retrieve from the system, named in ways “understandable” only by the airline’s software, etc. This is of course due to the fact, that an airline arranges its record keeping system to its own needs and not to satisfy lessor requests, which is only fair.

As a result, the lessor is subjected to significant costs of placing representatives on site and having them to go through the records manually. More often than not, they also need to – once again – scan all the documents so they can be placed in the lessors record keeping system and provided to the next customer for review.

In an age in which refrigerators order their own groceries online and even I am able to check the ink levels in my home office printer from thousands of miles away, there should be a more efficient way of arranging the record review and transition process.

Cooperation between lessees and lessors is key

Just as airlines use their airworthiness management software, most if not all lessors also use digital record keeping software of their choice. It is only natural that the user requirements of airlines and lessors are very different. Airlines need tools for seamless and efficient airworthiness monitoring, maintenance planning and warehouse management, whereas lessors will probably be more interested in simple and clear ways of finding required information, providing it in legible format, ensuring no duplicate entries and, perhaps, performing some big data analysis on specific subjects within their fleet. Even though a common system, satisfying both customer types, may be possible, it probably will not be feasible. After all, a lessor cannot dictate an airline as to what airworthiness software to use. That would probably violate the quiet enjoyment clauses…

Cooperation between the lessee and lessor during the entire operating period of the aircraft seems key. As I already mentioned, most airlines do scan their records on a continuous basis. A method of sharing those records with lessors would probably allow for a more efficient way of keeping the lessor database up to date and in a format which they consider useful.

Possible benefits of continuous record sharing

Aircraft transitions are often a nuisance to airlines and a challenge for lessors. Airline staff are not fond of having third party people present in their office, going through their records and continuously asking questions. Lessors may not be too happy with spending the time and effort to have people stationed at the airline’s headquarters for a lengthy period of time.

Continuous record sharing between lessees and lessors may potentially remove a significant portion of that burden. The workload on the airline would not be dramatically enhanced, as all that would be required is to email (or upload) documents which are already being scanned. The lessor, on the other hand, could have mechanisms in place to receive all that information and upload to their record keeping software. Depending on the fleet size, this could probably be accomplished by a small team of people – perhaps the same people, who are now sitting in various airline offices around the world.

At the end of the lease, during the transition process, all documents would be readily available to the lessor. The lessor representatives could perform the same evaluation they do now from their home offices, with easy access to all required documents on their phone, tablet or PC. The savings in travel and accommodation costs would be significant. Time would also be less of an issue, as the lessor could get ready for the delivery process months in advance. At the same time, the airline’s burden of having to host the consultants would be greatly reduced.

Of course, the continuous record sharing approach would not completely remove the need to have lessor personnel on site. It would still be crucial to verify all the latest records and solve, together with the airline, any problems which may arise during the record inspection. Also the maintenance done during a transition would still need to be looked after. However, the time and the workload could be significantly reduced while some major problems would be caught well in advance and communicated to the airline with sufficient time to fix them.

Possible drawbacks of digitizing aircraft technical records

There are drawbacks to everything, and even though I am a firm believer in moving every record system to a purely digital format, they need to be accounted for.

Aircraft fly all over the world. As much as the FAA and EASA are used to various forms of digital records, some airworthiness authorities may not. Even within EASA countries, I still come across the notion that an official document is a signed document, and a scan of such should not be used like an original. Even though this is a notion with which I don’t agree, it’s what we have to live with.

Lessors may not be willing to take upon themselves the burden of updating their record databases continuously. This may require them to create an additional team of people or hire third party personnel. It seems to me that the cost would be quickly compensated by the savings and increased quality of the final record reviews, yet this would have to be clearly proven.

Airlines may not want to share their records on a continuous basis. We have to face the fact that different airlines operate at different levels of transparency toward lessors. They may fear that a lessor may take immediate action in case a problem is discovered within the airline’s records. This issue would probably need to be addressed during negotiations and defined within leasing contracts. Still, in most cases lessors have the right to at least one mid-term review of the aircraft and the records which, for all intents and purposes, is no different than continuous oversight.

Modern airlines don’t use paper anymore. The era of digital technical log books and digital maintenance sign offs has certainly started and the more tech savvy airlines are reaping the benefits of such systems. This is great, but will lessor record keeping strategies remain compatible with data gathered in a form different from scanned files?

The future is digital

It is clear that the future will be filled with digital solutions. In my view, the airline industry tends to be cautious towards modern technologies. Nevertheless, this is a trend we cannot (and, in my opinion, should not) stop.

What are your thoughts on keeping technical records? Do you have experience with those systems? Or do you prefer to do things the ink-on-paper way?

Thank you for all your feedback!

The post Are we Ready for 21st Century Digital Aircraft Records in a Leasing Environment? appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/are-we-ready-for-21st-century-digital-aircraft-records-in-a-leasing-environment/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
1
Freelancers or Third Parties – How Aircraft Leasing Companies Hire Their Representatives http://michalswoboda.com/freelancers-or-third-parties-how-aircraft-leasing-companies-hire-their-representatives/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/freelancers-or-third-parties-how-aircraft-leasing-companies-hire-their-representatives/#comments
Fri, 09 Sep 2016 08:11:05 +0000 http://michalswoboda.com/?p=375 An aircraft leasing company’s primary job is to manage a wide portfolio of aircraft, leased to operators throughout the globe. This implies that a significant amount of resources, both human and financial, must be spent on aircraft transitions from one lessee to another. Such transitions involve heavy maintenance checks, aircraft painting, and correct evaluation of […]

The post Freelancers or Third Parties – How Aircraft Leasing Companies Hire Their Representatives appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>
An aircraft leasing company’s primary job is to manage a wide portfolio of aircraft, leased to operators throughout the globe. This implies that a significant amount of resources, both human and financial, must be spent on aircraft transitions from one lessee to another. Such transitions involve heavy maintenance checks, aircraft painting, and correct evaluation of the aircraft’s technical state as well as the shape and form of aircraft technical records. As leasing companies strive to keep their overhead costs low, they choose to hire representatives to perform most of the task associated with an aircraft transitions. In most cases those are either freelance consultants, hired directly by the lessor for a given project or third party companies, consulting firms, which provide their own representatives for a variety of projects. Is one way better than the other? And can this question be easily answered?

 

Freelance Aviation Consultants – the Personal Touch

 

Several years back, it was rather standard practice for leasing companies to have their own groups of known and trusted freelance consultants, who would be employed for various transition projects. There seem to be several benefits to this approach, although it is also not free from drawbacks.

Let’s look at the positive side:

A freelance aviation consultant is an actual, physical person. This means that the relationship between the consultant and the leasing company (in the person of an asset manager or technical director who oversees the transition process) can be very personal. People get to know each other, they learn about their strong and weak points and they build trust. The asset manager will eventually know with what level of independence the given consultant can be trusted. They will also know which consultant is best assigned to which aircraft type, geographical location or type of transition. Do we need someone who always gets his/her point across, but sometimes appears as rude? Or perhaps we will be better off with someone who invokes good feelings, is polite but may bend under an overload of pressure from the current or next lessee?

Furthermore, a leasing company can easily manage a freelance consultant and count on his or her full loyalty. After all, it is the leasing company who hired the consultant. Once the asset manager and the consultant become properly acquainted the communication process becomes very simple. This is important, as normally the asset manager and the consultant are thousands of miles apart, often in different time zones. No-one wishes to waste time on ineffective communication. At the same time, the freelancer-employer relationship ensures that the consultant will attempt to please the lessor in hope to do the job right and be hired again, for upcoming projects.

Last but not least – hiring a freelancer will keep the costs down to a necessary minimum. There are no third parties involved, so the overall cost of the consultant comes down to his / her fee, per diem rate and hotel / travel costs. All of these are easy to predict and are also being paid only when the consultant is performing work.

But there are also certain drawbacks to this approach:

Depending on the size of the leasing company, the asset managers will have to manage an entire bunch of independent personnel. This may not be a good thing, as an asset manager should be managing the assets rather than the human resources dealing with the transition. There will always be problems with people and not every leasing company may want to have their asset managers dealing with laundry bills, missed flights, lost mobile phones, etc.

Also, a freelancer is just that – a single person performing their work. If the freelancer gets ill it’s the lessors problem (not only do they need to assist the sick consultant, they also need to find another one immediately).  Some freelancers may also not fulfill the lessors expectations or, which is extremely unprofessional, but still happens – leave the project unexpectedly. Again, this will then become the lessors problem.

Furthermore, as much as freelance aviation consultants are loyal and tend to understand a given lessors needs best, they can also become too used to working for one given leasing company and become cocky and reckless. The close relationship with the asset manager may not always permit for a clear evaluation of a consultants work and result in the leasing company settling for less.

Third Party Aviation Consulting Firms – Rent Yourself a Representative

 

Third party aviation consulting firms take the people management strain away from a lessor. They also hire freelancers, but they are supported by full time staff in the company. They also have a greater possibility of finding customers and work both for lessors and lessees alike. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this approach to hiring technical representatives.

The up side:

The leasing company does not have to deal with any of the people management issues which become apparent when working with freelancers directly. It is the third party which manages the people, their salaries, travel details, hotels etc. It is also the third parties responsibility to ensure continuous support for a project should a representative get ill or not perform to given standards.

Furthermore the consulting firm, as it has a greater pool of consultants at its disposal, will be more flexible with respect to changing workload during a transition project. It can therefore easily send two or three consultants during periods of peak workload (most often at the beginning and finish of a project) and leave only one person behind for the remaining period. The leasing company does not need to worry about that, and they only pay for the man-days actually spent on site.

In addition to that, an aviation consulting firm will often offer additional services. They may have their own certified CAMO (continuous airworthiness management organization) with a back-office to support the consultants on site and also keep the aircraft under a controlled environment should the need arise. They may also have good contacts with several aviation businesses around the world and assist with arranging maintenance or painting at short notice or finding that crucial component somewhere on the market.

The drawbacks:

First of all – the costs. A third party is a third party. It needs to carry the burden of the direct consultant costs (fee, travel, accommodation), cover its own overhead and, hopefully, make a solid profit margin. In practice, the costs of one day of a consultants work may be even double to what the consultant actually costs.

Furthermore, there is often no relationship between the representative onsite and the actual asset manager from the lessor. This may (and often does) become a problem as the expectations may not be fully understood and there just may be no “chemistry” between the people involved. The lessors influence on who is actually working on their aircraft is very limited. The lessor, being the customer, may of course demand that a given consultant be taken off a project but that’s a radical move, which may undermine the relationship between the lessor and the third party. It is also important to note that the consulting firm will aim to lower its costs. One of the ways to do that is to pay less to the consultants, which in turn may result in less experienced personnel.

It has to be also noted that the consultant does not actually work for the leasing company, but for the consulting firm. The interests of those two do not need to necessarily match. In particular, the consulting firm may (and will) have several projects going on at the same time and may need someone’s assistance for more than one project simultaneously. In addition, the consultant will not feel obliged to satisfy the lessor at all costs as he or she will care more to satisfy their employer – the third party.

The Verdict?

 

You guessed it – there is none. In reality, the right approach depends probably on the actual project. In some cases hiring an experienced, well known and trusted consultant will beat the work of any consulting firm. However, in many cases the consulting firm will be a very good choice, particularly for lengthy projects involving several aircraft. The choice belongs to the lessor, of course, and the competition between third parties and independent freelancers will keep thriving.

As a lessor, a consultant or anyone interested in the topic – which approach do you believe is correct and can yield the best outcome?

The post Freelancers or Third Parties – How Aircraft Leasing Companies Hire Their Representatives appeared first on Michal Swoboda.

]]>

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
http://michalswoboda.com/freelancers-or-third-parties-how-aircraft-leasing-companies-hire-their-representatives/feed/
Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /wp-includes/class-wp-comment-query.php on line 405
2