Alumni Career Spotlight: Kandi (McCoy) Spangler

Kandi Spangler

Kandi Spangler, DB 1999

This week’s Alumni Career Spotlight features Kandi Spangler, a 1999 BS Aviation Business Administration graduate  from the Daytona Beach campus. Kandi is now Vice President, Marketing for Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI) and has helped to recruit several Embry-Riddle students into internship positions within her company.  She graciously served on our Alumni Industry Panel last year and we are thrilled that she has agreed to share more of her wisdom with our job seeking students and alumni.

What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?

There are so many highlights in my career, but one in particular stands out to me.

Last year, our company decided to run a sweepstakes for a flight in a dual-control P-51 with an outfit called Stallion 51 out of Kissimmee, Florida.  We were planning to announce the winner at the 2010 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention and I was tasked to contact world-renowned aviation icon, Bob Hoover, who we wanted to make the announcement for us.  We thought Bob was the perfect person to make this announcement given his vast experience in the P-51, and we felt that his presence would draw many people to our booth.

To my surprise, Mr. Hoover answered when I first called to see if he would be interested in working with us.  Many people I tell this story to, don’t even know who Bob Hoover is, so I tell them it felt like I was on the phone with Harrison Ford!  I was giddy with excitement when he answered the call, so I did my best to remain composed and not act like a kid in a candy store.  Over the next several months, I got to speak with Mr. Hoover on numerous occasions and had the opportunity to talk about flying and aerobatics (I only recently started flying aerobatics myself) and I was amazed by his professionalism and interest in my aerobatic training.

Unfortunately, I received a call from Mr. Hoover less than a week before the NBAA Convention, in which he advised me that his doctors had restricted his ability to fly commercially due to his health.  Without pausing, he went on to say that he was in touch with his good friend, (astronaut) Gene Cernan to see if he would be able to stand in for him at the event.  Mr. Hoover felt terrible about the short notice and apologized several times before we hung up.  The next morning, I received two phone calls within an hour of each other.  The first call was from Captain Gene Cernan himself, to let me know that he would be happy to stand in for his friend, Bob Hoover.  The next call was from Bob Hoover, asking if Captain Cernan had called and if we got everything squared away for the announcement the following week.  I hung up with a huge smile on my face and thought, “how many people get to talk to Bob Hoover and Gene Cernan on the same day.  I love my job.”

While that was quite a highlight, it was equally amazing was when I got to meet Captain Cernan the following week and work with him for the event that took place in our booth.  He too was a complete professional and fantastic public speaker.

I expect to have many more career highlights in my lifetime, but it’s not often one gets to touch aviation and aerospace history like I did that week.

What traits and skills do you most attribute to your success?

There are a few traits and skills that I feel are important to my success:

Communication:  I have always been an outgoing person, but that didn’t automatically make me successful.  Effective communication is so much more.  Something that I’ve learned over the years is to balance my outgoing personality with the ability to listen.  Truly listening is probably the hardest thing an outgoing person needs to learn to become successful.  It’s necessary however, if you want to effectively communicate with your boss, your co-workers, your vendors and your customers.  The good news for you introverts out there, is that you’re likely already a good listener!  It’s the engagement part that you might need to refine.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses, it’s just a matter of taking the initiative to improve those areas where there are shortfalls.

Be Passionate: This applies to everything in life, not just work. Be passionate about what you’re doing; your family, your hobbies, the new project at work. I am an all-or-nothing kind of person and when I focus my energy on something, I give it 110%.  I don’t show up to work with a mindset to “stay under the radar”.  Nor I do work 40 hour weeks.  Passion does not happen between the hours of 8 and 5.

Collaboration:  I also like to foster a collaborative approach with any project.  Involve others.  Not only will the end result be something much better than what you could have come up with yourself, but you now have instant buy-in of the new initiative because of everyone’s involvement.  It’s a win-win situation.

How has your Embry-Riddle degree opened doors for you? 

 The alumni community with Embry-Riddle is unlike any that I’ve ever seen with other universities.  Want to have a fraternity of friends to cheer on your alma mater’s football team or basketball team?  Well, there are plenty of universities that have that.  But when it comes to a fraternity of professionals in the aerospace industry where there is an inherent reverence for the education you have – no one comes close to Embry-Riddle.

Truth be told, this is not something that weighed into my decision to attend Embry-Riddle.  I went because it was billed as the “best” for aerospace education in the world.  In hindsight however, this fraternity of friends is probably one of the biggest benefits you’ll experience long after you graduate.

Keep in mind that the “doors” that are opened don’t only apply to getting a job.  They apply to all sorts of things, like landing that big deal, or getting favorable terms with a vendor.  The simple connection to our alma mater can turn an awkward first business meeting into a walk down memory lane like you were old friends (even if you graduated 20 years apart and never met the other person).

What is one piece of career advice that you would like to share with job seekers?  

Stand Out:  I’m not telling you anything you don’t’ already know when I say that the job market is tough these days.  Finding a job will not be easy, but if you’re creative, you have a much better chance at landing a great job.  The key is to find a way to stand out.  This doesn’t mean calling the HR Director everyday for two months (a sure-fire way to get your name permanently removed from consideration, by the way).  It means being tactical and persistent, and whenever possible, having someone on the inside to help you.

One suggestion I have is to join groups or associations in the field you want to be in.  And don’t just send in your dues, participate!  Be active.  Being a member is not enough.  Volunteer your time and get involved with the association.  The friends you make are the people that can get you in the door.

Get involved with your local Embry-Riddle alumni chapter (even if you’re still in school).

One thing you don’t want to do is hand your new-found friends a resume on your first or second meeting.  Be genuine.  Be passionate about aviation/aerospace and be curious about what they do.  Ask them where they work and about their positions.  Listen and engage.  Desperation is not becoming, but common interests and passions are.  Give your relationship time to develop.  There will come a time when they will ask what you do or what you want to do.

Whether you are looking for a job, finding new customers or looking to get the best deal – people like to do business with people they like and trust.  I used to think “networking” was just a fancy term for people to go drink, hang around and talk about whatever – but not necessarily business.  Now I realize that networking is the critical foundation for how business gets done.  You do business with the people you like and trust.  You get a job from the people that like you and trust you.  So let your hair down, put the resumes away and go make some friends… lots and lots of friends.

About Kandi Spangler:

Ms. Spangler joined Jet Support Services, Inc. in 2006 as JSSI®’s Midwest Sales Representative and in September 2009, she was promoted to Director of Marketing. In January 2010, she was promoted to her current position.

Ms. Spangler is responsible for all marketing for the company, including trade shows, advertising, collateral, market research and direct mail and phone campaigns.  Her mission is to gain the mindshare of decision makers, existing clients and key influencers that result in new sales and/or customer satisfaction.

Previously, Ms. Spangler held various sales positions in the aircraft charter and management industry, working for The Air Group, Inc. in their Los Angeles and Chicago locations.  Prior to The Air Group, she held positions in flight operations and crew management at NetJets.

Ms. Spangler has a B.S. in Aviation Business Administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She currently serves on the National Business Aviation Association’s Access Committee, and is member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and International Aerobatic Club (IAC).  She is an avid pilot and owns a Cessna 182 based at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (KBJC).

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