Alumni Career Spotlight: Joe Gibney

Joe Gibney, DB 1998

Joe Gibney joined Signature Flight Support more than 12 years ago and has held multiple roles within the company.He is presently in London as Vice President and Managing Director for the company’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa businesses. He earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1998, where he also served as a Presidential Fellow. 

What challenges face upcoming graduates as they transition from a college environment to the work place?

Given the current economic outlook, many companies are scaling back and not hiring.  In addition, there are lots of experienced people in the market right now.  New graduates are competing against people with significant work experience.  That makes it really important to have internships, co-ops, or past experience on your resume.  Most importantly, take the time to create relationships with people at your target companies.  This, along with good recommendations from people respected in industry, will help to open doors.  In general, but especially in this market, you need people “on the inside” pulling for you.

What recommendations do you have for candidates seeking to find international employment?

In general, unless you come with the right to work in a particular country, i.e. have an existing visa or work permit, gaining international employment can be very difficult.  Assuming this box is checked, language skills, unique knowledge or something else which differentiates a candidate will make all the difference.  The key is to ask yourself what you bring to the table that someone “in country” cannot bring.

What characteristics do you consider when interviewing someone?

I consider hiring the right people to be the single most important contribution I (and any business leader) can make to the success of the organization.  I take hiring, and thus interviewing, very seriously.  A candidate should know about the company in question and have done their research.  He or she should ask intelligent and probing questions, both to demonstrate some knowledge as well as to communicate intellectual curiosity and the desire to learn.  Basic communication, analytical and technical skills are a given – if a person can’t mark up a document in Word, perform basic analysis in Excel, or put together a coherent PowerPoint presentation, he or she is not equipped for any business role these days.  I also want to see evidence of passion, commitment, teamwork, a career plan, etc.  Lastly, a person needs to have good “fit” with the organization, share the organization’s values, etc.  I look for people who can excel in their present role, but also have the ability to grow with the business.

How has your Embry-Riddle experience helped you to advance to your current position?

Embry-Riddle was excellent preparation for my career in business aviation.  The MBA program gave me broad exposure to business, from accounting and finance, to marketing, analysis and strategy.  I can honestly report that I have used almost every course in practice.  In addition to the general business curriculum and aviation coursework, Embry-Riddle provided great exposure to the industry (reference my comment above about developing relationships with industry in order to get your “foot in the door” with a good company).  An Embry-Riddle degree is seen as a good pedigree and indicates not just educational attainment but also a passion for the business.  I certainly made the right choice going with Embry-Riddle for my graduate level education.


Alumni Career Spotlight: Nathalie Hildingsson

Nathalie Hildingsson was an international student working on her degree in Business Administration when she was selected for a Route Network Planning internship with Delta Air Lines in Atlanta during the summer of 2010. The following spring, Nathalie then completed an internship with Lufthansa Systems Americas in Miami, FL.  When she graduated in Spring 2011,  she applied for OPT work authorization.  Lufthansa offered her a full-time position on the Bid Marketing and Management team and Nathalie accepted.

While at Embry-Riddle, Nathalie was a member of Delta Mu Delta, International Honor Society in Business and a member of the College of Business Student Advisory Board.  Her extracurricular activities included the Embry-Riddle Track and Field Team, working as a student assistant for the College of Business and serving as a Peer Mentor for First Year Programs.

Nathalie Hildingsson

Nathalie Hildingsson, DB 2011

What are you working on now, and how did you get where you are today?

I am working as a Bid Manager for the Americas region at Lufthansa Systems in Miami. Lufthansa Systems is an IT provider for the airline industry and we provide products that cover all of an airline’s business processes. We have products and services for everything from infrastructure services, like hosting and desktop services, to applications for revenue management and revenue accounting, weight and balance, flight planning, navigation charts, and more recently, wireless in-flight entertainment.

I started my full-time position with Lufthansa Systems in June 2011 after completing a five-month internship with them. During my internship, I was working with marketing and event planning, but a few months before the end of the internship, they offered me a position as a Bid Manager. At first I was nervous since I did not have any background working with bid management; but at the same time, I was excited for the opportunity to prove myself in a different field.

When I accepted the internship with Lufthansa Systems in January, I had no hopes that it would lead to a full-time opportunity. First of all, I was an international student which means that it is a longer process to hire me when compared with a US citizen. Second, I knew that Lufthansa Systems is a German company, and my German skills were, so to say, very limited. What I realized afterwards is that Lufthansa Systems is a company that operates all over the world and my daily working language is actually English, but also that companies will be willing to look past shortcomings, such as not speaking German or even being a US national, if you can prove to them that you will be an asset and your services will help improve their chances of success.

What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?

Be professional, personal, and always work a little harder than people expect from you. This has been my motto during school, professionally, and also as a Track and Field athlete. Everyone knows that it is important to work hard and be professional, but I truly believe it is always important to be personal. There might be several candidates that are qualified for a position, but, at the end of the day, they will pick the person who they believe they can sit next to 40 hours per week and enjoy it.

What career advice would you like to share?

Get a job on campus – it will give you an opportunity to connect to people that you normally would not have a relationship with. In my campus job, I worked with students, professors, and visitors to the campus. I developed a really good relationship with my professors and the staff at Embry-Riddle while working for the Dean in the College of Business. I still keep in touch with some of them and I know that I could ask for a favor if it was ever needed. Working on campus also prepared me for my internships, and even for the job that I have now.

Network – if someone gives you an opportunity to network with people, take it! You never know who you will meet, and how those people can help you in the future. It will also give you a great opportunity to learn from others.

Do an internship or two – I did my first internship with Delta Air Lines in Schedule Planning, and it was a great experience. First of all, I had flight benefits for a summer and was able to fly to Brazil, Denmark and to several destinations within the US. That was just a perk though! The most valuable experience was learning to work for management and live up to their expectations. When I came to my second internship with Lufthansa Systems, I already felt comfortable working with management, and I was able to impress them more than during my first internship with Delta.

Find your passion – I sometimes thought that the aviation industry just had one type of job to offer, and I had to pursue that to become successful. I later learned that this industry has so many different opportunities; you just have to find what your passion is and then go for it. In my opinion, you will only be truly good at your job and be most productive if you enjoy what you are doing. This is something that I found when I started working for Lufthansa Systems and I think the feeling will continue to grow in the future.

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

Embry-Riddle has definitely opened doors for me, and I am sure that it will continue to do so in the future as well. My first contact with Lufthansa Systems was at the Career Expo in 2010; they were exclusively looking for Embry-Riddle students since they were aware of the aviation experience and background we have. At Riddle, we are exposed to the aviation industry in a way that other schools cannot compete with.

I meet and talk to people constantly that are somehow connected to Embry-Riddle. It really does feel like a family out there of Embry-Riddle alumni. However, do not fool yourself and think that you are better than others because you have an Embry-Riddle degree. We earned the degree and now we have to continue to impress and prove why we are the leader in aerospace education.

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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