Five short years ago, I attended my first Airport Consultants Council (ACC)/American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Planning, Design and Construction Symposium. This is the symposium in the aviation industry, and it happened to be in New Orleans that year.
At the time, I actually understood very little about the drivers of the aviation market. I arrived in the Big Easy not knowing any of the leading experts who would also be in attendance, and I remember feeling overwhelmed but also excited. I stayed focused, listened and participated in many conversations. I learned a lot.
I later was afforded an opportunity to serve as a Young Professionals liaison to the ACC’s Engineering Technical Committee. I assisted with the planning of future symposiums, and I can now see what a formative experience it turned out to be.
Fast-forward five years. This past February, I found myself again in New Orleans at the same conference. But this time, I was representing the Engineering Technical Committee as the vice chair and was serving as a track host for the Airside Engineering Track. I was once again overwhelmed and excited — but for very different reasons!
As a track host, I was tasked with developing five 90-minute sessions that highlighted key drivers within the industry. With help from 20 industry experts, we covered the key issues facing the aviation industry in these sessions. These issues included technology, procurement and funding, P3s, resiliency and asset management.
I referred to this as the symposium above because it is truly the premier technical event of the year in aviation. It brings together more than 1,000 aviation professionals from all facets of the industry. For four days, we network, learn and discuss how, together, we are going to move our industry forward.
At this most recent symposium, I arrived at a conclusion not unlike the one I took away from New Orleans the first time: No matter the type of project, its size, delivery method, etc., three key elements hold true to be successful. They are planning, programming and partnerships—the three “p’s” (not to be confused with P3s).
The last time I landed at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport for this conference, it changed the trajectory of my work. I still can’t believe that I can look back five years and pinpoint that as a time when my career took such a complete and total shift!
Going back this time was a new experience because I had built relationships. I was back in the Big Easy, but I was among not only my peers, but my colleagues and even friends.