Success Stories

The following are interviews by the AAAE Young Professionals Committee highlighting impactful mentor/mentee relationships. Watch for these posts on our social media channels!

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AAAE YoPro Committee to Graham: How did you get started in aviation?
Graham: Initially, I went to Lewis University to become a pilot but quickly learned that was not going to be within my budget; therefore, I switched majors into Aviation Administration. Following my freshman year, I had the opportunity to intern at the Indianapolis Intl. Airport within their Air Service Development group and quickly fell in love with airport management. Now, I’ve been in airport management for over 10 years and finally received my private pilot certificate.

AAAE YoPro Committee to Graham: How did you connect with your mentor?
Graham: In 2016, I relocated to San Jose, CA to begin a new role as an Airport Duty Manager at SJC. At the time, Sean was another Duty Manager who assisted with my training. He introduced me to AAAE/YoPro and was a large supporter during my election as a Board Director for SWAAAE. He continues to be a great friend, old colleague, and mentor for myself and MANY others.

AAAE YoPro Committee to Sean: What is your favorite part of mentoring?
Sean: Our industry is a very small community and has provided many blessings for me. It is rewarding to be able to give back and see others grow in this industry. It is a “proud parent” moment when you see your friends and colleagues rise to new opportunities.

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AAAE YoPros: How did you get started in aviation?
Matt: Working at airports is in my blood. Both my grandfather and dad worked at the Trenton-Mercer Airport. My grandfather was the fire chief and operations supervisor, and my dad briefly worked as a firefighter. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to the industry at a young age. After high school I was not sure what I really wanted to do career-wise, so I reached out to Melinda Montgomery, the airport manager, regarding an internship position and have been here ever since!

AAAE YoPros: How did you connect with your mentor?
Matt: I connected with Tim Edwards through the AAAE/NEC Young Professional Committee. We have a Certified Young Professional program within our Committee that has a mentorship requirement needed for completion. I have worked with Tim for about the past year and have learned a lot. Working in operations and being able to connect with a mentor who is experienced at an executive level has shown a different perspective on the industry than what I see every day. I am also enrolled in the A.A.E. program, and Tim is very gracious in assisting me with preparing for my oral board component.

AAAE YoPros: What is your favorite part of mentoring?
Tim: My favorite part of mentoring is working to guide career-minded airport colleagues to achieve their professional goals. I spent eight years on AAAE’s Board of Examiners and successfully mentored 29 accreditation candidates to become A.A.E.s. Several of those have become airport Executive Directors, Chapter Presidents, members of AAAE’s Board of Directors, and the AAAE Executive Committee.

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AAAE YoPro Committee to Natalie: How did you get started in aviation?
Natalie: I actually flipped a coin when I was graduating high school to help choose a career path to follow. I chose to attend community college for my associates and private pilot license. Afterwards, I transferred to Daniel Webster College which was absorbed by SNHU thereafter. My time at DWC was most impactful on my early career development and revealed many passions for me in the industry which I enjoy as my career today.

AAAE YoPro Committee to Natalie: How did you connect with your mentor?
Natalie: I was connected with Marshall as part of a program developed for the NEC/AAAE Young Professionals Committee. During my term as Co-chair of the Committee, we developed the Certified Young Professional Achievement Program under the guidance of Melinda Montgomery, A.A.E. One of the many benefits of this program is getting matched with a mentor who is not only accredited, but is local to our chapter. I’ve benefited greatly from my experience and I look forward to maintaining this bond with Marshall even after the program is completed.

AAAE YoPro Committee to Marshall: What is your favorite part of mentoring?
Marshall: I enjoy watching individuals grow and succeed in the aviation industry, and Natalie certainly has a bright future. Mentors were a critical part of my career development, and I welcome the chance to pay it forward.