Case Study: Leader Search


An effective Leader is the key ingredient of a successful Aviation Services department. VanAllen seeks to find that Leader who has a specific skill set coupled with experience to work in a manner that is consistent with your culture and business and operational objectives.  Our approach focuses on the vision, purpose, culture, needs and goals of your core business, and its principles.

About the Client

Company: Privately-owned, mid-size

Industry: Business Services

Primary Locations: Northeast US with operations throughout Continental US, UK, and Australia

Key Travelers: Top Leadership team and family; 15 total

Travel Profile: 7-day/week operation, 90% Continental US/10% International, ~700 hours annually

Travel Resources: Two aircraft managed internally and fractional shares.  Chairman has his own aircraft that supplements company and personal travel.


The client and its organization faced three primary challenges when VanAllen was engaged:

  1. Stability – The Aviation Manager position was vacant for the third time in three years.  No one within the department had the capability or desire to fill the role.

  2. Turnover – Besides the Manager position, the pilot and technician roles were experiencing turnover primarily due to low staffing levels and low quality of work life.

  3. Compromising Standards – Numerous examples of the team prioritizing service over safety by incurring risks that were outside the company’s risk tolerance. 

The absence of a consistent and strong leader was the root cause to all three of these challenges.  The company and its leadership were fully prepared to invest in this critical position, develop a better staffing plan, and move the operation to Best Practices.



To ensure the standards were elevated and one consistent voice was leading the team, VanAllen took an advisory and oversight role of the organization as it continued daily operations.  This “bridge management” role supported the team in their decision-making and collaboration.  It also provided valuable insights into the organization as well as determined the type of leader that would be most effective.  Additional work with the executives helped establish a relationship between the airport and corporate headquarters.

Once the team was in place, VanAllen worked to design a role and compensation package that was consistent with the company’s values.  An exhaustive search was conducted in partnership with the company’s HR team that included technical assessments, interviews, background checks, and a personality profile.  VanAllen presented three highly capable finalists and continued to work with the client’s HR team through offers and negotiations.

The selected candidate was relatively new to leadership, so VanAllen was asked to support the on-boarding, mentoring, and development of the new Aviation Manager to ensure his success.  This included a transition plan, teambuilding exercises, as well as ongoing coaching.  As part of the coaching and development, the Aviation Manager created and presented a new staffing plan, as well as clearly defining operational standards, which set the stage for the organization to begin its pursuit of IS-BAO certification. By placing an effective Leader in this department, VanAllen addressed the client’s primary challenges: providing a stable, qualified Aviation Manager, reducing department turnover, and laying the groundwork for the team to prioritize safety.

VanAllen’s unique ability to effectively assess challenges and determine the best solutions allows clients to move forward confidently. If you have similar challenges or questions, contact VanAllen to learn more.


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