Strike up a discussion sometime with a group of co-workers about the characteristics that make a great leader. Or, discuss the leadership style and those at the top of your organization and I’m sure you will be met with a whole lot of differing opinions on the subject.
I went to the worldwide web and did a search for leadership and received the expected results of the characteristics of a great leader such as honesty and integrity, ability to inspire others, commitment, accountability, and the list goes on. I did find this description which I liked (sorry I can’t recall where it came from); Great leaders find the balance between business foresight, performance, and character. They have vision, courage, integrity, humility, and focus along with the ability to plan strategically and catalyze cooperation among their team.
I then searched specifically for aviation, airline, or aerospace leaders and leadership. The majority of the names that appeared were in the category of aviation heroes and famous pilots, most dating back decades and none that really what I was looking for - names of aviation or aerospace businesses and individual names. Although a few airline names like Pan Am's Juan Trippe and Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher did surface and I’d agree with these. Then there were companies that are considered leaders in the aviation industry, not just a person, but a leading organization.
Over the years I’ve met many executives from a variety of organizations, government, MROs, and aircraft maintenance businesses, and I’ve gotten to know a few. Some I’ve watched as the organizations they lead maneuver through the ups and downs of our cyclic industry. Some I do consider industry leaders and there are individuals, organizations, businesses that all could be considered a leader or providing great leadership in our industry.
I consider David Storch to be one of them. I’ve meet David a few times over the years and gained a respect for his leadership of AAR Corp. David recently announced his retirement as the second only CEO at AAR Corp. I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with David for this issue of Aircraft Maintenance Technology. Be sure and read the interview beginning on Page 14 to hear David’s views on the MRO industry, AAR, his career, and a bit about leadership.