Meet Our People

So many great people make up British Airways. Hear about their stories and experiences of what it is really like to work for one of the world’s most famous airlines.

Aaron

Aaron

Turnaround Coordinator

What was your journey into your current role with BA?

I’ve always wanted to work for BA, and I’ve worked in different aviation and customer service roles in the past, but I came across this role because I was looking for a new challenge and something with more responsibility.

I was looking through the website, and this role jumped out at me because of the managerial aspects – because for that hour/ hour and a half the plane is on the ground, you have to make sure everything comes together to get it back up in the air. Not to mention the fact BA hadn’t recruited externally for turnaround coordinators in such a long time, someone said over 40 years, so that’s something I’m really proud of.

Describe a typical day at work.

In my eyes, it’s one of the best jobs in the airport. You have one clear objective, to get that aircraft departing on time and safely, but a variety of different things need to come together to achieve that. Each turnaround faces different challenges; from technical problems, to late passengers, to bags being offloaded, you never know what’s coming. You’re responsible for a team of people, and managing the coming together of each element, so when that aircraft pushes back on time, the knowledge that you played such a huge part in it being able to do so, and that you’ve got those customers on route to their destination, is fantastic.

Tell us about an experience that really stands from your time here

The day I managed my first Jumbo Jet departure, it was a 747 and it was heading to Las Vegas, and I remember standing right underneath the belly of the aircraft, and taking a few minutes to remember just why I love this job, and why I do it. I looked at the aircraft and thought about just how much hard work had gone on in the past 90 minutes to get it ready, and it was such a sense of pride.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

The things I find most challenging to deal with are the things that are out with BAs control – things like the weather! Or the facts that Heathrow is one of the busiest and most congested airports in the world – the smallest thing can have a huge knock on effect. It can be really frustrating because it’s those situations where you don’t have full ownership over your performance. When those things start to have a domino effect, restoring the operation to normal can be really challenging. But it’s at that point that the company, and us as customer service staff, have to really communicate and reassure the customers, because although we can’t make things exactly as we want them, it’s really important that the customers know they remain at the centre of all of our decisions, and that we’re doing everything we can for them.

What motivates you to come into work each day?

This job has been by far the best job I’ve ever done, and I cannot imagine working in a role that was removed from the operation. I would love to progress to be a duty manager at one of the outstations overseas, because there you get to oversee everything from BAs perspective in that airport. I’d love to work with everything from the customers at check in, to watching them take off on their flight.

I can’t imagine doing this for another company, there is such a prestige that comes from working for BA, whenever you tell someone who you work for, they always ask questions and take an interest, the company is iconic.

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Callum

Callum

Mixed Fleet Cabin Crew

What was your journey into your current role with BA?

I studied hotel management in Australia and lived out there for 4 years, then I came back to the UK and did a diploma in Cabin Crew for a year at college here. I worked as ground staff with another airline initially, because I thought I’d have no chance with BA, but in December 2012 I decided just to go for it and applied. I was offered an interview in February 2013 and the position 2 weeks later. My training started on May 16th 2013, and now it’s almost been 2 years, and wow its gone fast.

Describe a typical day at work

Each roster night is always really exciting, and everyone looks forward to finding out where you’re going to be going the next month. That changeability is what keeps it fresh. We’re always being given new routes or being sent places last minute. You have to be prepared for anything.

I’ve learnt that everyone has his or her own reason to travel. The passenger sitting in 1a may be going to a funeral, whilst the passenger in 1k is travelling to the same place for a wedding, and you don’t realise that until you talk to them, and it is only by doing that that you can tailor your service to their needs
Tell us about an experience that really stands out from your time here.

There was a lady on a flight to Cape Town, and initially unknown to the crew, she’d connected onto that flight after starting out in New York. She was travelling alone with an infant, in the middle of the night, and the baby was wide-awake and wouldn’t rest at all. We ended up looking after the baby for her, just so that she could get some rest, I suppose we became nannies for a couple of hours. After the flight, she wrote in about just how grateful she was for that, and that recognition really brought home the importance of engaging with the customers. It’s important to learn their stories because that’s when you can really do something for them.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

The lifestyle of being cabin crew can be challenging. You know that you’ll work nights and long hours and be away from home a lot, but you also need to get yourself in the mind-set that you will miss out on some things. But when you’re lying on a beach in Rio, and you realise that you are being paid to be there, it reminds you of the benefits. There are swings and roundabouts.

You have to figure out how to get a balance between work and home. When I first starting flying, it was really tiring, it’s a demanding way of life. It takes time to click into place, but once it does you can really enjoy both aspects, sometimes I needed reminding that it would take time.

What motivates you to come into work each day?

The most rewarding part of this job is when the passengers get off and you can see that they are genuinely happy. When they pull you aside just to say thank you, and to let you know that you’ve given them a good service, it’s a great feeling. It’s the small things really.

When you are lying on Bondi Beach in Australia, or Copacabana in Rio, thinking about everyone back at home, sitting in the office, that’s when I realise just how lucky I am, and that’s what keeps me coming back for that next flight.

Find out more about Cabin Crew at BA

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Katherine

Katherine

Data Strategist

Describe a typical day at work

I feel like our job title doesn’t really do the job justice – it’s not as techy and geeky as it might sound. The key part of it is ‘strategist’ because we’re required at a very strategic level. We get to have a really long term view of the company and how it’s going to push forward. The role has a nice mix between marketing and insight. You get to do bits of both, which means you’re not just pigeon-holed into one area.

We take the figures and numbers from the analyst team, and deliver them back to the business and to stakeholders in a way that makes sense to them.

Being part of the “Know Me” programme means we have an impact on our customers directly. The focus is on Profilealisation in the communication process, and all of those messages derive from our team. We analyse the date and service it to crew iPads so that they can tailor their service based on that information.
Tell us about an experience that really stands during your time here.

Working on the January sale really stood out to me, because from the customer perspective, you have no idea of the efforts and workings that go on to enable that sale. The scale of work that it took to pull it off was immense, because it covered every single channel that we work with. I don’t think customers would realise the work that goes on to launch something like that.

The most rewarding aspect is when you see a project live. For example when you hear Cabin Crew speaking about how they enjoy the use of the iPads, or how helpful the messages they receive through them are. Sometimes as an analyst you can feel a bit removed from the front line, and so it’s great when you hear the anecdotal reviews of how your work is making a difference.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

The most challenging part can be the stakeholder management. The business is huge, and our work touches so many different teams that sometimes it can be quite difficult to get everyone aligned and communicating. Any project that we have to deliver will involve speaking to a region, a data team and so on. Managing all those groups at once can be quite difficult.

What motivates you to come into work each day?

The travel industry is so complicated, I’ve found it fascinating. Seeing the brand from behind the scenes you see how much effort goes in to maintaining that position.

The brand is huge, and that in itself is a big appeal. There’s a sense of pride for BA, and the travel industry looked so interesting to get in to. Working here is giving me that client experience, and I suppose the travel perks haven’t gone a miss.

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Sarah

Sarah

Flight Crew Business Manager

What was your journey to your current role with British Airways?

I joined back in 2010 when mixed fleet started and came in as a Customer Service Manager in the new management scheme. I’ve had a few different roles since then: I was within mixed fleet for 2 years, then I moved to be a Duty manager in Terminal 5 in flight connections, and then I’ve been in Flight Ops as a Flight Crew Business Manager for the last 15 months – I’ve been really lucky to move around and do things both on the ground and in the air. That’s the good thing about the banding system here, moving around and trying new things is really easy

Describe a typical day at work

We do all of the people management for the flight crew at Heathrow, all 3800 pilots! It involves anything from supporting them in difficult times, such as absence and sickness, right through to recruitment for the Future Pilot Programme.

I have a split role, I’m between Waterside and Terminal 5. I think it’s important, that as well as being available on the phone, to be visible in T5, we need to be as available as possible to our work force. We have iPads and use FaceTime a lot, and we’re always looking at how we can develop new ways of saying in contact. We’re always focusing on how best we can utilise technology.

Tell us about an experience that really stands during your time here

I was surprised by how important all the legal aspects are, and how involved I am in policies, but that does mean ultimately being involved in driving change. We are able to influence, we are listened to, and that does mean we can take things away, be empowered to run with them, and so enabled to make changes. It’s quite surprising how open door things are, it’s actually really quite innovative.

Having worked with customers and people all my life, I thought I knew how to deal with situations, but actually there are always things to learn, so it’s important to always go in to things open-minded. As a team, we talk all of the time; we share how best to handle situations. Communications are key, because you never know when something out-of-the-box will crop up.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

When you answer the phone, literally anything could be coming through on that line. It can be a diverse range of emotional situations, and people are trusting you to be a support mechanism, whether that’s for the birth of their new child, or they have been diagnosed with cancer. In times of disruption anything can happen, and we HAVE to make sure everything is organised. That means being able to change your priorities and re-manage workloads – we push things around all the time. One minute you’re working on something, next minute it’s placed on the back burner.

What motivates you to come into work each day?

It’s the feedback really, when it’s positive in terms of the support you’ve given, which at the end of the day is primarily our role. Knowing that you’ve been there for someone. One of our pilots phoned me up to express the comfort it gave him to know that he didn’t have to feel isolated because he knew that support mechanism was there.

But there is also the buzz of the operation. We get to know what’s going on as it happens; we’re the first to get a lot of information. Plus there’s that direct link with all the crew, so we get to speak to so many different people. Basically I’m as frontline as I can be without being on-board the aircraft. As a directorate, you don’t get more exciting.

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Andrew

Andrew

Senior First Officer

What was your journey to your current role with British Airways?

I started flying in a glider on my mum’s lap at the age of 3 years old! The passion for aviation has never abated. I was that annoying kid at school that said “I want to be a pilot”!

The dream started as a glider pilot, I went solo on my 16th Birthday (minimum age) in an open cockpit British built T21 glider. In February this was fairly cold but as you can imagine it was fantastic. To be up in the air with just the wind blowing in your face, and no other noise, was a feeling of total freedom.

From there I became a gliding instructor and in the summers built up my experience, being a part of the Junior British Gliding Team for some time, British Junior Gliding Champion and a regional examiner for gliding. I have always been passionate about flying and the dream to fly commercially has always been there.

Describe a typical day at work

As well as the day job of flying a 777 around the world which is a superb and privileged career, I have become involved in recruitment. This diversity to the role allows me to work with people and influence other’s careers and shape an element of the business that will have an effect for decades to come. This kind of responsibility is challenging at times, but to be valued and involved in an element of the business that will alter the customer product directly for years to come is very enlightening.

This said the flying is still the ultimate desire. The technical challenges of flying around the world combined with being able to visit the amazing destinations that we serve is remarkable. I still have to pinch myself to believe we go to so many fantastic places around the world.
Tell us about an experience that really stands during your time here.

Currently I am leading a project supported by BA to engage with young people from the inner cities to enable them the opportunity to learn to fly a glider. This being an opportunity that most involved initially considered to be out of their reach. Seeing the sense of achievement and confidence that exposure to aviation brings to these young people from across the UK has been fantastic. Along the way I have met many superb people from BA who have been hugely supportive of the scheme. It amazes me at a company of over 48,000 people the community spirit is close and desire to help others runs through my colleagues. A close knit team in a large global operation.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

The training I have received has been really in-depth. The opportunity to continue my Profileal development through online and face to face learning means I am fully equipped for whatever challenges present themselves. However, as with all of aviation, our safe operation relies on continually assessing and re-evaluating the information available at every stage. I am still learning and work hard to keep abreast of the latest procedures and thoughts on every part of the operation to ensure safety, our number one priority as pilots, is upheld at all times.

What motivates you to come into work each day?

The opportunity to talk with our customers face to face is an essential buzz of our career. I have met noble prize winners, movie stars, supermodels, as well as families, friends young and old on-board my flights. Seeing the eyes light up on a child as they sit in the flight deck (on the ground) for the first time and say “What do all those buttons do!” still makes me smile. To see their excitement about flying – reminds me of me.

Discover more about being a pilot with BA

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Celine

Celine

Best Practice Analyst

What was your journey to your current role with British Airways?

I started in July 2013 so I’ve been here for less than 2 years. I’m from France and had already been working in the UK for 3 years, but this is my first role in an airline. Before working here I worked in a medical and security assistance company, and after 3 years wanted a change, and BA was my first choice – the job here was really appealing.

It was clear from the beginning that the airline industry is really complex and I knew that I wanted the challenge. Even in the interview I felt I got a good insight into the complex and interesting aspects of revenue management, and I knew it would provide great learning for me. And although I enjoy travelling, I had no idea how much goes on behind the scenes. The role showed more variety that elsewhere, yes there is some regular things, but I change projects frequently and no week is the same.

Describe a typical day at work

My role involves taking a higher view of the business and making sure that what we’re doing makes sense. I wasn’t controlling a route myself initially but I thought it was something I needed to do myself. So I went under a secondment to understand that better. I spend a day and a half each week working on that, which is really helping me to understand how our routes are managed, and which tools are being used by whom and why. It’s helpful because I’m working closely with controllers and helping and supporting them when they have questions.

There is a bit of routine for refreshing reports, or running regular analysis and sending out results on a monthly or weekly basis. Then I also have ad-hoc projects when there is an opportunity to review a process or something to dig in to and provide solutions for.

Tell us about an experience that really stands during your time here

By undertaking the secondment, I’ve become part of different teams. You come in and you don’t know anyone and it can be difficult to define your role. But by undertaking this secondment, people in my department know who I am and what I do, and that they can come and talk to me. There’s a lot of interaction that I wasn’t expecting, both inside and out with the department. The analyst community is a good way to meet new people. It provides insight in regards to training, and access into presentations and projects. Being an analyst within BA is something that is really valued.

I’ve learnt that there is always something new or something else to learn. You can think you’ve reached a certain level, but then there’s a new acronym or a new term. You’re working with people who collectively have so many years’ experience, that you are constantly picking up on something different.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

Because I’m working with people who are very experienced, and my role is to help them, can be hard, because I also have to understand them. You need to learn fast to be on track with what they’re talking about. You’re a support role, so it’s important to meet expectations, which can often high from very experienced people. The first 6 months were very challenging, but it gets easier – although I am always still learning. People start to put more trust in you when they know that you are doing everything you can to understand and build those relationships.

What motivates you to come into work each day?

I get a lot of support and there is a real sense of team spirit. Even if I’m not working on the same project as someone, I know I can ask them any questions and they will support me when I have to make a decisions. You get a lot of feedback from the manager and the wider team, which helps you to improve and understand where you can do better, yet at the same time it’s approached in such a very positive way.

There are thousands of employees at BA, and everyone is attended to. I was afraid of being just a number because the organisational size; but it’s not that case at all. Every level of management really gives support to their staff, and they encourage you to express yourself in regard to issues or ways to improve and I really value that.

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Nancy

Nancy

Engineering Maintenance Manager

What was your journey to your current role with British Airways?

I have worked with British Airways since 1996 and have had a varied career progression since then.
Initially I started working in Telesales and quickly moved on to become Cabin Crew on our Shorthaul fleet progressing to the role of a senior cabin crew member within 6 years. I built on my people management skills and left flying to manage senior cabin crew on the ground. Once I started working on the ground I was quickly drawn to the operational side of the business and moved to becoming Operations Manager for Cabin Crew at Heathrow within our In-Flight Customer Experience team. Once established in this role and after gaining sufficient experience I made the move to Engineering.

This move was a very big step for me as it not only challenged my operational knowledge but also challenged my ability to manage an operation within an entirely different context. Furthermore I had the additional pressure of being the first recruit into my current role from an external department but also being the first female in this role. To this day I am thankful that my General Manager took this risk and I believe I have proven him right.

Describe a typical day at work

My role is to manage the Engineering Control Centre on the day and ensure that Engineering delivers aircraft in maintenance back to our operation on time and compliant. I achieve this by working closely with my colleagues in the planning and production areas, supported by our technical, workshops and power plant experts.

Typically this starts with a shift brief where I provide the Engineering teams with an overview of operational challenges on the day and their role in delivering a safe and punctual operation to our customers. I work closely with my counterparts in Netwrok Operations and in the Airport Centre as part of the combined operations team to ensure this happens.

We are focused on lean working practices and strive for continuous improvement in everything we do.

Tell us about an experience that really stands out during your time here

Every day is different and comes with different challenges. The experiences that stand out are when we manage to deliver in times of disruption; this requires all teams to pull together and focus on not letting our customers down. Communication is of highest importance so we can highlight any issues with impact on the operation early.

On a personal note I am rewarded by the fact that I have proven to myself and others that you can come from outside of Engineering and contribute to its success on a daily basis.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?

Not coming from an Engineering back ground the biggest challenge was understanding how the Engineering business works and the often very different language that is used. You have to be mentally very agile to compute numerous sources of information that often relate to safety critical matters; so ensuring clear understanding is paramount.

Overcoming the perceptions that are still attached to these type of roles in regards to gender and ability are a further challenge that I had to overcome and am still overcoming, but I believe I have become a positive example to demonstrate that if you put your mind to it and you have the right skill set you can achieve things you never thought you could.

Find out more about our Engineering Operations here

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Rob

Rob

Production Database Engineer.

How long have you been at BA?

I joined in 1993 when I worked on the ramp in Birmingham, when BA had a base there. I was involved with aircraft push-backs, towing, de-icing and loading. After six years, I moved to Engineering, working in the stores.

Then in 2002, having met a Scottish lass, I transferred up to Glasgow and continued as a material supplier at BA’s short-haul heavy maintenance facility. I’d always been interested in engineering, so as a New Year resolution I started a BEng (Hons) course in 2006 with the Open University in Structural Engineering and Mechanics. It took almost nine years, but I graduated last year with first-class honours. Thanks to my studies, I have been able to branch out into more technically focused roles.

What do you do?

I am a Production Database Engineer. Our team is responsible for monitoring defects on the A320 fleet from six months prior to the aircraft coming into the hangar for major maintenance checks. We investigate any defects; prepare job instruction cards and any modification instructions.

At the moment, I am three months into a development secondment, working as a Technical Engineer. This involves liaising with Airbus on any repairs that aren’t in the manual and producing technical documentation from the manufacturer’s response.

What do you most enjoy?

Working in a team. Engineering involves technicians and engineers from lots of different disciplines working together. Their knowledge, skill and professionalism always impress me.
I’d like to learn more about the business. I’ve been here for 20 years and there’s still much to learn.

What has been the biggest challenge to date?

I had a support role secondment based in the hangar, which involved looking into technical queries. BAMG used to handle both Airbus and Boeing 737s and the manufacturers’ manuals each had their own nuances, and switching between them was challenging. This coupled with my studies, meant I was on a very steep learning curve.

What has been your best day at work so far?

When I was at Birmingham, the US Ryder Cup team flew out on Concorde. That was not an aircraft that visited regularly, so it attracted a big crowd. I don’t think I’ve been involved in a push-back in front of so many pairs of eyes before or since.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

Until recently, it would have been studying. I’ve sacrificed a lot of family time over the years, up to 30 hours a week on top of my job by the end of the course. When I finished my degree, my eight year-old daughter said, “As you got such a good grade, I’ll forgive you for studying my entire life.” I had been tempted to start a Masters, but my family wouldn’t forgive me. I can now get back to my love of hill walking in the Highlands. Hopefully, this will be something we can all enjoy together.

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Xavier

Xavier

Design and Implementation Executive

What was your journey to your current role with British Airways?

I used to work at BMI, and was working there during BAs acquisition of them. At that time, most of the operational staff transferred across automatically, but those of us working in other functions had to look for other jobs, and so I looked for openings with in BA. There were lots of different roles to apply for at that time, but I went for a role which I felt I had a skills match for, which is how I ended up in this role in the customer transformation programme.
Describe a typical day at work.

The title doesn’t fully explain what the job is. It’s about looking at the service strategy and what initiatives can be put in place to make things move forward, but with a focus on the cost. We have to try and be the voice of the customer in regards to our service transformations. One of the things I love most is the fact that we get to work with so many different departments. At the start the focus was on the front line staff, but now, we’re also taking to people here in Waterside – service is something that we all do. It’s important for someone who works in Finance, someone who works in IT, we all have a role to play and it’s everyone’s responsibility.That means lots of communication, engagement and influencing. It’s almost like you’re hosting a party, and you want to make sure people come along. You have to make what you’re trying to achieve seem relevant.
Tell us about an experience that really stands during your time here.

We did some engagement work with the contact centres in Delhi, and I was blown away with how culturally diverse the organisation over there is. It was great to see the passion they have, and even though we were engaging with them in a completely different way from how we engage with local colleagues, and despite them being so far away, they were just as passionate about the brand, which really validated to me what I was doing.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?

The challenge can be in BA being such a  big organisation that sometimes departments might not be aligned, which means sometimes people don’t understand what another team are doing, and we miss the opportunities to create synergies.You work in such a competitive and dynamic environment that you have to be very flexible, because what worked well yesterday might not work the next day. You also have to adapt to keeping costs flat, which isn’t always easy.

What motivates you to come into work each day?

I’m motivated by the role that I’m doing, I enjoy that we’re focusing on service, and the fact that you can make a difference. Sometimes you might feel like a tiny drop in a big ocean, but it does make a difference, and it is recognised by managers and by peers. Although we may not have the same money as some of the middle eastern carries, BA certainly has the expertise, and so that creates a lot of chance for us to be creative, and that gets me up and in to work in the morning.The brand is important, because you want to work for a company that is respected and recognised. Particularly for me, I’ve always had an interest in travel, airlines and in service, so this role ticked all the boxes. BA is known for service, quality and innovation. It’s that sense of Britishness, especially to foreigners, that has something prestigious about it, and I think that sometimes gets forgotten.

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