Tell us about…
The moment you decided to establish ACS
After working in the US during the 80s, my wife and I decided to move our family back to the UK. On our return I took an opportunity outside the aviation industry for the first time in my career. However, almost as soon as we returned the country entered into recession and before we knew it, we were struggling to pay the mortgage. So I decided to go back to what I knew, opened my book of contacts in the aviation industry and founded ACS in the basement of our house.
Your best idea for ACS
Globalisation. In the early days of ACS I was flying around the world looking for opportunities to do business. As a small business at the time, I had to seek out new markets and find solutions in extreme situations to win business from my already well-established competitors, and that led me to places ranging from war-torn Somalia to the former Soviet Union post-perestroika. I realised then that local knowledge gave such an advantage, and therefore, despite the myth that because aircraft travel around the world it doesn’t matter where you are based as a business, we needed to open businesses around the world. I opened our first international office in Moscow in 1995 and we haven’t looked back since.
Your three essentials for a productive day at the office
- Be visible: as a director I feel you should show your face in every department in the office every day.
- Keep an eye on the numbers: developing a business is about improving things when the numbers tell you to. If customers are not booking, the numbers show it. If the market is slow, customers are unhappy or our competitors are doing something we aren’t. You need to spot the problem quickly and react. To win, we need to offer the best service and invest in the right markets all the time.
- Do what my PA tells me: keeping to a strict schedule is the only way to be productive, and my PA holds my schedule.
What gives you a sense of achievement
Positive feedback from customers telling us we came up with a solution where our competitors were unable to; seeing our involvement in international events, from arranging aircraft for roadshows to delivering relief to the Philippines, and knowing that our expertise has made a difference; and watching our businesses around the world grow.
Your favourite pastimes outside of work
- Exercise: a few years ago I built a gym in the office for the staff and decided that after years of unhealthy living I was going to get in shape. Since then I have been having personal training sessions five times a week and I feel great.
- Football: my brother used to play for our local football team Queens Park Rangers. He used to leave tickets for me to see him play in the 70s and now I take my family to go and watch them regularly.
- Music: I love live music. Along with regular concerts I have been going to Glastonbury festival regularly in recent years.