Alumni Career Spotlight: Ryan Antisdel

Ryan Antisdel, DB 2011

Ryan Antisdel, DB 2011

Ryan Antisdel is a 2011 graduate of the Master of Business Administration program at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  Ryan was interested in aviation, but his interest in using his degree within another industry called to him more.

Through hard work, perseverance and focus on his goal, he has been able to cross into the automotive industry and successfully utilize his ERAU MBA degree to pursue his career passion.

As an alumnus of the MBA program at ERAU Daytona Beach, tell us how you ended up in the automotive industry and what you like the most about your current position/company.

Working in the automotive industry has been a life long goal. My very first job began as an entrepreneur, and it involved starting my own car detailing business. As time progressed I held various positions with several motorcycle dealers, including BMW, Ducati, Honda and Triumph. During my time at ERAU, I worked as a graduate assistant with the EcoCAR program as an outreach coordinator, which was sponsored jointly by GM and the Department of Energy. The EcoCAR program gave me a great deal of insight into the difficulties of engineering a hybrid vehicle along with exposure to media highlights such as meeting Federal Congressman John Mica.

Immediately following my time with EcoCAR, I was selected to join BMW Manufacturing for a 6-month internship and worked for the Human Resources department while specializing in Technical Training. The highlight of this position was being surrounded by major manufacturing, German culture, and being able to drive camouflaged prototypes that other people dream of even seeing.

All of the positions mentioned above helped to open the doors for a job at American Honda Motors as a Sales Analyst. My favorite part about this position is having the ability to see exactly how vehicles are sold and marketed from the factory, regional, or field level. Another great part about this position is being able to meet unique Honda Dealer Principals; one for example has a family history in automotive racing. The general public goes into a dealership and has no perception of how much effort and coordination it takes, months in advance, to make it all work. Honda developed this position to help entry associates gain essential skills and knowledge before becoming a District Sales Manager. Obtaining a role that contains a diverse portfolio of training and encourages questions is exactly what I require to further develop a solid foundation in the automotive industry.

As your career positions have been in a typically non-traditional industry for Embry-Riddle alumni, how did your ERAU degree prepare you to be successful in this industry?

ERAU gave me a unique insight to the world of aviation and the complexities of that business. While a class may have focused specifically on Boeing vs. Airbus, I was always thinking in terms of automotive companies like GM vs. Toyota. Aviation and the automotive industry have similar fundamentals. They all require engineering, design, manufacturing, logistics, product planning and sales/marketing to name a few. ERAU prepared me to think of the corporation as a whole and conversely on an international level. Instead of load factor per flight per day, I am now thinking in terms of vehicle sales per dealer per day. While the labels may have changed, the task and objective remain the same: maximize sales to remain competitive.

During my studies some of the courses actually had case studies within the automotive industry which were beneficial, and if they didn’t, I would be the student who always would try to make the problem fit into the automotive industry. I still recall an instance where Lamborghini was working with Boeing on new composite structures, both for their upcoming products that were being developed. Even though an Italian supercar has very little in common with a several hundred passenger aircraft, there is still a connection; you just need to look closely.

A degree from ERAU prepared me in too many ways to list, even my 65 hours of flight training helps with understanding some vehicle dynamics. However, it is the combination of my degree and the applied experiences that have led to my success in this industry.

What advice do you have for a current MBA student, that would help them after graduation?

Start applying for internships, graduate assistantships and part-time jobs during your first semester. While I was fortunate to have an amazing 6-month internship at BMW Manufacturing, I waited too long and missed the opportunity to have a second one. The key is to take the initiative and apply right away. Secondly, if you have a passion for a certain field or company, look at all of your options. For example, I had to apply to BMW North America and BMW Manufacturing separately. You want as much experience as you can obtain before you start applying for a permanent position, so do not sit idle and expect to be handed a job. Another piece of advice would be to not rely on anyone but you. I had several reliable connections that fell through along with many of my colleagues, and that was of course very discouraging. Never give up and always keep looking ahead.

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I Have A Business Degree – Where Do I Find My First Career Opportunity??

By Sandi Ohman

An education in business provides a broad knowledge base, which is helpful in transcending across many industries.  However, it can present a challenge – having so many opportunities that you don’t know where to start looking.

To start, here are some questions to consider:

  1. If you have had an internship during your education – did you like it? If so, check out the opportunities at that company or similar companies.
  2. If you didn’t fully enjoy the internship, what parts of the internship did you enjoy?  Try focusing your career search on those aspects.  For instance, you liked the social network & website duties – check into marketing opportunities.
  3. Not having had an internship doesn’t mean you can’t find a career-launching position – it just means you will need to know yourself or do some self-evaluation to figure out where to start.  What do you like to do?  Consider what you liked about other work experiences or the classes you took – what kind of careers include those elements?  This could involve more education specializing in those areas (certificates, graduate degree, another few classes), but that can be a small investment for the work you will do the rest of your life!

Completing your degree at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) doesn’t mean you can only find work in the aviation/aerospace industry.  Your education should have prepared you to experience a shorter learning curve in this industry, but you can definitely cross over to other markets.  ERAU alumni have found their careers leading them into a variety of industries, including the following non-aviation related areas:

Commercial Banking, Consulting, Global Business Environments, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Military, Sports, Transportation, and Wall Street & Financial Markets

Once you have determined career areas you are interested in pursuing and research the companies in that industry, resume and interview specifics for that industry and start applying.  An internship after college is still an option for many recent graduates.  This is an excellent way to start in a new industry and let the employer evaluate performance before a full-time opportunity is offered.  We hear from employers from non-aviation/aerospace industries that didn’t know about ERAU previously but gave a graduate or student an opportunity and now want to recruit ERAU students/alumni because they are so impressed.  ERAU students and alumni can successfully cross into other industries!

Networking is so beneficial to the career search – before and after you have the job!  LinkedIn is an excellent resource for networking, along with professional organizations for that industry.  Check out the ERAU online Alumni directory eaglesNEST and ERAU alumni and Career Services LinkedIn groups to start the networking process.  There is also a list of aviation/aerospace professional organizations on the Career Services website.  There are just as many organizations for other industries as well.

Ultimately, your first career position might not start in the career/industry you were hoping for, but every experience offers learning opportunities (both personal and professional) and a chance to begin molding your experiences toward the career you are pursuing.  Often we tell students, “you get out of it what you put into it,” and this applies for the career search process and the experiences you obtain along the way.  If you are willing to learn new things, improve skills, grow personally and professionally, and continue pursuing your dreams, the likelihood of obtaining those dreams increase greatly!

Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services.  Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida. 

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: Thomas Hollinger

Thomas Hollinger, PR/DB 1996

Thomas Hollinger, a 1996 Aerospace Studies graduate, has over 16 years of experience in the aviation industry, primarily in aviation insurance. In 2006, Thomas joined Phoenix Aviation Managers to lead the Pleasure & Business unit. After a few years in this role, Thomas was asked to run the Atlanta regional office and most recently, was promoted to the home office to oversee other operational areas within the company as a Senior Vice President. A commercial multi-engine pilot with an instrument rating, Thomas enjoys flying the company’s Cessna 182 when he gets the chance. Thomas was a panelist on the Alumni Industry Panel this past November and actively recruits Embry-Riddle candidates for entry-level underwriting opportunities within his company.

Not many students know that there are some great opportunities in aviation insurance. Can you share a little about the field?

The field of aviation insurance offers a variety of career opportunities.  These career paths provide great fulfillment for those with a passion for aviation by encompassing close ties to the aviation community while serving in the broader financial sector.  The most common opportunities available for entry into this field are in claims, underwriting or as an insurance broker. Yet, there are many more roles required in the overall insurance operations such as IT, accounting, safety/loss control services, regulatory compliance and more.  Beyond these functional roles, there are many specialties within aviation insurance, each providing a different direction to take in a career path.  These specialties include General Aviation (corporate aircraft, personal aircraft, FBOs, flight schools, charter operators, agricultural, etc.), airlines, manufacturer’s products, workers compensation, satellite/space and reinsurance.

How did you work your way up to the Senior Vice President level?

By developing a genuine interest in learning all facets of the aviation insurance business and applying the knowledge I gained to each subsequent position. This allowed me to progress in my career and take on expanded responsibilities.  While absorbing the many elements of the aviation business, I focused on mastering my direct area of responsibility, taking charge of producing the best possible outcome in that role.  As I progressed in each role, I would measure the results and adjust the strategies and projections in consideration of the various forces at play.  I have taken the same business approach to managing my own career.  As I faced situations along the way, be it an unforeseen organizational change or new potential opportunities, I would perform a thorough analysis and make my decisions based on what gave me the best possible chance to succeed, both professionally and personally.

What do you look for in prospective Underwriting Trainee candidates?

An ideal candidate for an Underwriting Trainee position in general aviation underwriting will have a Bachelor of Science in an aviation-related degree with an element of business administration.  At Phoenix Aviation Managers, having a pilot’s license is preferred but not required unless the candidate wants access to fly the company’s Cessna 182.  A candidate with an aviation background is almost essential and much preferred to having a pure business or insurance background with no exposure to aviation.   While aviation can quickly become contagious, the best formula for becoming an aviation underwriter is by already having experience in and around the aviation environment.  Also, I like to see candidates that express an interest to be involved in aviation insurance for the long haul, with a vision to progress their career in this field.  When I perceive that the candidate is just looking for a temporary diversion while pursuing a professional flying career, then the investment in training and development for the insurance role could prove to be futile.  I look for sincerity in candidates that see the great benefits of having the opportunity to progress in a business career that also allows them to keep their roots firmly planted in aviation by serving an important role in that industry.

What is the best advice that you ever received related to your job search or career?

To sum it up in a small phrase, “Go for it!”   That’s what I have lived by and I suggest to anyone else seeking an opportunity.  If you see something that you want and you believe in it, you have to go after it and in many cases ask for it.  Opportunities do not seek you out (except for a fortunate few), and when you do find something that suits you, you have to aggressively pursue it.  Embrace that we all become sales people in our career searches, and the product that we sell is ourselves.  When faced with competition for a desirable job, you have to make the extra effort to market yourself as “the candidate” for the position.  In these days where so much recruiting and job posting is done by the internet and email, don’t just be one of many Word docs sitting on someone’s computer or on a server somewhere.  Follow up on what else is required of you for consideration and reemphasize your interest and qualifications.  Do it by email or, even better, by phone if you can.  Getting a phone number may require some resourcefulness, but that can be recognized as a positive too.  Keep in mind that there is always a point of going too far, and there may be some cases where it just wasn’t meant to be.  It’s important to move on.  You should recognize when it’s time to focus your energies and resources on the next “Go for it” opportunity.

What You Missed at the Annual Alumni Industry Panel

Students and alumni gathered on Thursday, November 4, 2011 to hear five Embry-Riddle alums talk about their respective careers and dole out valuable advice for those seeking work in the industry. If you were one of the smart ones who attended, you know how beneficial the event was for job and internship seekers.

Alumni panelists answered questions from both the audience and moderator, Lisa Kollar. After  the 90-minute long panel event, students, alumni, Career Services staff, and the panelists congregated in the COB Atrium to network and talk about job and internship opportunities. Job seekers that attended had the chance to stand out and get valuable facetime with prospective employers.

Panelists included:  

All five panelists did an excellent job of conveying to students and alumni the importance of completing an internship, the value of networking as part of the job search, and the fact that one’s career path may take many turns. They spoke of the Embry-Riddle community and how tight bonds are out in industry. Many said their companies regarded Embry-Riddle candidates as a preferred choice when making hiring decisions. They shared personal insights into their own experiences and offered sage advice to college students embarking on a career in the industry.

If you missed the event, we have you covered. You can view the 2011 Alumni Industry Panel discussion online now (panel discussion starts at 3:27 on the video). 

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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