Fresh Blood

Paul Bowers

There are certain moments in life that stick with you forever. I vividly remember my first AAAE annual conference at the Dallas Loews (or whatever it was called back in 1993). The airport industry was new to me, and it was quite intimidating to watch industry veterans interact so easily.   

On the last day of the show, I heard my name called over the public address system as the winner of an oriental rug. My first airport show, and I won a prize! It would be the highlight of a stressful new experience. But when I walked over to collect my prize, the person in charge looked at me and told me I hadn't won the rug. I showed her my nametag, but it didn't matter. As it turns out, there was another Paul Bowers in the industry (who I now know), and he won the rug! 

It was tough enough being new to the industry and a first-timer at the show. But having someone dismiss me without much explanation was a bitter lesson that has stuck with me to this day. So why bring this up?

Some say that NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers' unique sense of leadership comes from the way he interacts with teammates - even those on the practice squad, who may never make it into a game. He knows that without the support of the entire team, it's tough to get everyone working together and performing at a winning level. Aaron gets it and goes out of his way to include the newbies.  

The same should be true within the airport industry. Our future is dependent on the fresh blood that is coming in. Taking time to meet the rookies, even mentoring them, will help determine our future successes. Programs like ACC's Young Professionals are needed to break the barriers of our good old boy network.

We all want to feel like insiders, that we belong. With 2016 just getting underway, let's make it a priority to get to know and include everyone on the airport industry team.


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