Assessing the Modern Airport Executive

Mel Bakersfeld was the person that exposed me to the field of airport management. As the leader of an airport located in the Midwest, Bakersfeld exhibited several dominate leadership traits. He consistently demonstrated a passion for his job and had a...


There are a whole host of issues that can embroil the airport organization in a political war. Airports by their very nature are political organizations. Being politically savvy in working through issues is a must. Noise, contracting, concessions, airport expansion, and air service development are just a few of the thorny issues that can test the political skills of any airport leader. To be successful today, airport executives must be able to effectively operate within the political process.

The above mentioned skills don’t substitute for formal training and experience, but the skills highlighted here are emerging in importance for executives. Technical competencies, particularly in the financial and real estate development arena, are increasingly important. Leadership in today’s environment is about cultivating quality relationships, having a clear picture of what the future organization looks like, thinking strategically about the organization, and being politically aware.

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