I joined the programme straight from university, where I’d completed an Archaeology degree. Among the reasons I chose it was because the airline industry is in a unique position whereby the carrier is challenged on a daily basis by global events – whether it is weather, ash, earthquakes, taxes, economic downturns or anything else. This non-exhaustive list makes every day different and challenging. Nothing is less appealing than a boring job which rarely changes, and that isn’t the case at British Airways.
We received a very warm welcome and partook in a number of tours and activities, which were very enjoyable, a highlight being the aircraft simulators. However it’s difficult at this stage to grasp just how big the operation is.
I’ve had two placements so far, and on the second one I’m currently Crew Team Manager, Mixed Fleet, based in our headquarters at Waterside and in Terminal 5, which includes extensive travel. At British Airways the placements are real jobs that others in the company also compete for. This gives a very real sense of responsibility, pressure and recognition. It also gives a much steeper, but overall greater, learning curve.
I currently have 120 Cabin Crew in my team. 20 of those are part of my management team. My role involves all aspects of people management.
A typical week will be split between four major areas. I will spend part of my week in our headquarters, focusing on fleet initiatives and project work. I’ll spend another part in our training centre where I meet new members of my team. I also get involved in interviewing new candidates for our fleet. Much of my time is spent in our Crew Report Centre in Terminal 5. This allows me to engage with my crew, build relationships and support them in their development, as well as deal with any issues. The last part of my role involves me flying with our crew to assess the performance of my management team. It’s a great opportunity to meet the customers and see the crew in action.
Clearly the role involves an incredible amount of work, and with 120 crew in my team it does require a huge amount of commitment, but it would be difficult to find such a fantastic people management role anywhere else. In fact, the amount of responsibility and trust the company places in you is immense.
Even on my first placement I had the fantastic opportunity to work with BA.com on our website’s sales process. I was allowed to re-design how the website sold our products, how they were presented and what journey our customers would experience. All my experiences so far have shown me that you need resilience, commitment and an understanding that you will only ever get out as much as you put in. And what you get out is the sheer wealth of the opportunity open to any graduate who joins.
The highlight has probably been my first flight as crew with my team, which was excellent. I was thrown out of my comfort zone but fully supported, and really enjoyed the entire experience. Plus I got to sit in the cockpit for take-off and landing.
I have definite plans to develop my career within British Airways. I would like to explore the opportunities in our Sales and Marketing departments as well as our In Flight Customer Experience departments.
I would recommend it to anyone who has a keen commercial mind and understands the challenges we face as an industry. It’s great fun working here, my fellow grads are all very supportive and the travel is such a great bonus.