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July 2021 President's Message

Getting Unstuck

It’s easy to spend our time reflecting over the last 18 months or so and simply attribute personal or professional inertia to the pandemic or its hangover. However, there may be other forces at play that can be masked if we don’t look deeper.

As aviation experiences the significant uptick in post-COVID passenger demand, companies are working hard to anticipate and respond. Airlines are cycling up their systems, manufacturers are increasing production, suppliers are gearing up, and all around our industry is the hum of anticipation and excitement about the potential opportunity in the coming months. In fact, any organization that has waited until now to pivot their operations to the ready position is already significantly behind. 

We sometimes wait for permission to get unstuck ourselves. As many of you know, I recently left a job and company I love to take on what I saw as a tremendous opportunity. When they found out about my decision, many friends and family members were in disbelief. They were shocked I would walk away after 28 years to start anew in the passenger world, and relocate to a different city and state away from my sons and daughter-in-law and many of my dearest friends. I know to many it looked a bit arbitrary, but the truth is, I’d been stuck for some time. The discomfort of continued inertia had become harder to contemplate than jumping off into the unknown. It didn’t have anything to do with my former team, which included the best team I’ve ever had among all the amazing teams I’ve had the privilege to lead. For me, it had to do with not growing personally and professionally. 

Interestingly, in my last few weeks before departure, I had dozens of my friends and colleagues tell me how proud they were of me. A few even said they were envious of my decision and opportunity. Nearly everyone was incredibly kind and supportive. I’ve been at my new company for three weeks now. I leave nearly every day feeling tremendous joy about what's ahead and the extraordinary chance I have to influence the future. However, I don’t think my decision took courage as some have said. It mostly involved tenacity and grace. Tenacity has been important to fight through the goodbyes, moving, and learning about my new city and company. Grace comes in when I falter and feel overwhelmed. 

Most of you have fought through tough challenges and changes. Several of our IAWA members and Board members have changed jobs in the last year and many more are poised for opportunity. Knowing and leveraging your special talents will move you forward, even if you can’t see it in the short term. And remember, whatever you do, own your decisions and don’t ever apologize for who you are. We must all bring our best selves to every part of our lives so our companies, family, and friends can benefit from what makes us unique. That’s also how aviation will continue a healthy recovery - by leveraging the diversity of experience, talent, and thought available through our people. 

During my transition, several mentees reached out to me and asked how they should think about their future opportunities. My advice to all of them was the same: among all your choices, find the thing that scares you the most. Go do that. You’ll never regret it. I am proud to say, the entire IAWA team reflects the grit, passion, and spark that has made us more successful in the last year than anyone could’ve expected.  Together, we’ve demonstrated how to get unstuck. 



Bobbi Wells