Paul Anderson, vice president of UTC Flight, the United Technologies Corp. flight department, is the incoming chair of NBAA’s Board of Directors. He recently shared his thoughts on the association and its objectives going forward.
Tell us about your career in business aviation, and how your experience will influence your work as NBAA’s chairman.
My aviation career started in the Army, working both as a maintenance officer and as a pilot. When I left the service, I went to work at Sikorsky in a number of customer service jobs. I worked on the Blackhawk support program and on several international programs as well. My last job at Sikorsky was overseeing all commercial programs.
That was my first foray into business aviation, and I learned a lot about the customer service aspect of our industry. When you think about it, customer service is what differentiates business aviation from the airlines. We are in the customer service business. We simply use aircraft to deliver.
Prior to joining the NBAA board, what was your involvement in industry groups?
I helped found the Connecticut Business Aviation Association about 10 years ago. Then I was on NBAA’s Security Committee, and I think that’s when I came to the attention of the NBAA board’s Nominating Committee. I joined the NBAA Board of Directors in 2007.
My involvement at both the regional and national levels is all possible through my work in a large flight department. I’m fortunate, in that sense, to be part of a larger department. I’m amazed at the folks who are in smaller shops, where it’s so hard to give up time to be on a board like NBAA’s. I appreciate their sacrifice. It makes me glad that I have the staff that allows me to give back more of my time to the industry.
What will be your focus as NBAA’s board chairman?
We are so fortunate to have a great staff and a great CEO in Ed Bolen. When I was named chairman, I asked the outgoing chair, Ron Duncan, for advice. He said, ‘Largely, make sure we’re right on strategy – then largely, just let Ed and the NBAA team execute on that strategy.’ With such a high-caliber CEO, we have a man who interfaces constantly with NBAA members and national policymakers, and thinks constantly about what’s best for our industry. On our board, we have flight department managers, CEOs and even former four-star generals who bring an excellent diversity of opinion and backgrounds to Ed for him to draw on.
What Ron was saying, and what I believe, is that neither the chairman nor the board has a primary role in the day-to-day operations of NBAA. Our job is to help set the appropriate strategic direction, and ensure we are positioned to execute on it.
What can the Board of Directors do to support the association’s advocacy work?
Advocacy is a big focus of the joint task force of board members and the Associate Member Advisory Council. When there’s a need for advocacy, we can leverage our rolodexes. That has a tremendous magnifying effect. When Ed says we need to send letters to Congress, I go through my rolodex and get as many people as possible to send letters and emails up to Capitol Hill. When you think about how Congress works – they weigh the mail. If your issue rises to the top, lawmakers get interested. If it doesn’t, they won’t be.
So one major function of what we do is spread the word that we need folks to engage. We ask them to log onto the NBAA website and go to the Contact Congress page to let representatives and senators know what we think of issues that are important to our industry.
How are the Board of Directors and Associate Member Advisory Council working together for the betterment of the association?
AMAC is a big part of the organization. They help us see what the needs are of associate members. The AMAC best reflects the breadth of the associate membership. We have, in my opinion, a disciplined nominating committee and a very strong pipeline of candidates. At our joint NBAA Board of Directors/AMAC meetings, together we’re giving Ed the input he needs to see the big picture in our industry.
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