2017 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Jim R. Halley, III, A.A.E., ACE

Nov. 3, 2017

James R. Halley, III, A.A.E., ACE
Aviation System Manager
Florida Department of Transportation’s Aviation and Spaceports Office
AGE: 38

  • Alma Mater: Florida Institute of Technology (B.S. in Aviation Management) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (MBA in Aviation)
  • What is your dream job?: Shortstop for the New York Yankees (but some guy named Jeter got drafted by them when I was in high school and I guess they decided to go with him instead).
  • What person has impacted your career the most?: I have to go with Orville and Wilbur Wright because their whole thing was kind of a necessary step in the development of the aviation management profession. Other than them, my father – he had nothing to do with aviation (actually, he was in the maritime industry) but he gave me my work ethic and drive which are worth more than any degree or bullet on my résumé.
  • If I could visit any airport in the world, it would be: Motu Mute Airport, because that would mean I was on Bora Bora.
  • If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead: My wife. I travel a lot for work so nights I get to have dinner with her are important.

Since arriving at the Aviation and Spaceports Office in the Florida Department of Transportation three years ago, James R. Halley III has distinguished himself as a dedicated, highly motivated self-starter, with a tremendous knowledge of the airport industry and all of its regulations.

Halley’s stated reason for leaving a good job at a busy medium hub airport in south Florida was “to come someplace where I could help not just one airport, but to be in a place where I could help many airports.”

And Halley has done that, continuously demonstrating his willingness to take on new assignments and challenges while coming up with his own ideas, based on his experience, that benefits the 128 public airports of Florida.

A recent example of one of Halley’s projects was to develop the first-ever Florida Airport Sustainability Guidebook. It was written to help airports develop financial strategies, covering topics affecting an airport and its overall sustainability. It’s also going to be used to educate and inform entities and individuals interested in sustainability, including airport managers, airport authorities, local governments, airport stakeholders and partners. His management of the project was flawless and has resulted in an outstanding document that is already receiving praise from airport staff before being released.

Halley is a natural leader who takes the initiative and is unquestionably reliable. He approaches each task with enthusiasm and purpose. His most recent accomplishments include development and coordination of statewide meetings, modal outreach efforts to include each mode of transportation in the development of the next Florida Aviation System Plan. He is also coordinating with state agencies during the development of the Airport Sustainability Plan.

All of this is done in addition to Halley’s regular duties, one of which is to manage the Continuing Florida Aviation System Planning Process (CFASPP), a public involvement and communication process with 30 meetings a year to exchange information between federal, state and local aviation planners and reach consensus on comprehensive estimates of needed airport improvements and related capital costs.

Halley is also involved at the national level as a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Aviation System Planning, a Friend of the TRB Standing Committee on Intergovernmental Relations in Aviation and on the National Aviation System Planning Symposium planning committee.

His favorite part of his job is working with Florida’s 128 different public-use airport sponsors and seeing 128 different examples of why the state’s aviation system is the best in the world. “We have the best airports and the best airport professionals and I learn something new every day,” he said. “I am challenged to be better every day. That is something I absolutely need in my professional life and I definitely get that constantly.”

The biggest challenge Halley faces is the need to slow down. “I have a natural tendency to be moving at light speed and I have to very consciously think about adjusting my throttle to that of the organization and others I work with,” he observed. “I am very cognizant of the need to balance my passion and energy with the speed of the organization and our partners. It’s a challenge, but I’m getting better.”
Why does Halley like the aviation industry? “Aviation connects the world. You can’t go visit your family in New York through the internet. You can’t ship a container full of medicine by attaching it to an email,” he said. “Aviation brings people from around the globe together.”

Halley received his best piece of career advice when he was a Marine. “A Green Beret colonel and mentor of mine once told me, “`It's amazing what can be accomplished by a team when nobody cares who gets credit,’” he said. “I think about that statement every day and ask myself, `What have I done for the team today?’ on a daily basis.”