Over the course of the year, readers of ACI Insights will have the opportunity to meet each ACI World Governing Board (WGB) member. This article features Ms. Candace S. McGraw, Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), and Chair of ACI-North America.
Ms. McGraw was appointed Chief Executive Officer of CVG in July, 2011 and has over 25 years’ experience in aviation, legal affairs and public administration.
Since joining CVG, Ms. McGraw has focused on positioning the airport for the future by completing a 2035 Master Plan Study; consolidating operations into a renovated terminal facility; diversifying revenues through targeted cargo, land and concessions improvements; finalizing a modernized Use Agreement; and introducing low cost air carriers. She is proud to lead a team that has been recognized as the Best Regional Airport in North America for six years. She is active in the local community as well as the aviation industry.
In North America, and specifically the United States, a major concern revolves around airport infrastructure funding. If airports are given more freedom to operate as the businesses we are (which is not historically how the federal government has treated US airports), we must be able to have more control over local funding sources to ensure our infrastructure keeps pace with growth.
Our North American region is faced with similar challenges—and opportunities—as other regions of ACI World. Chief among the issues that must be addressed include cybersecurity, passenger facilitation, noise and environmental concerns. We need to invest in our human assets and other systems to safeguard critical infrastructure but also better integrate systems to ensure a seamless and superb customer experience for the traveling public.
During my term, I would hope to foster and continue the collaborative approach ACI World has taken to address the challenges, threats and opportunities faced by our industry. There is always constructive dialogue and sharing at the WGB meetings that we must ensure is turned into constructive and productive actions. We must empower ACI World’s Director General and her team to continue to do the great work they do every day on behalf of the global aviation system.
I think the issue of workforce development and talent development is a huge challenge to us all. Historically, we in the airport business are focused on air service development, contracts and leasing, operations and planning for the future physical footprint of our spaces. As much as we focus on the infrastructure of the runways, taxiways, etc., I think we need to double-down on our human capital infrastructure.
Even if technology shifts the world of work for different types of jobs, we must have qualified, skilled people in all of our regions to support all the functions that thriving airports require. This is true for training the right people for leadership roles as much as it is to think about those front-line positions. One proactive way that my airport, CVG, is addressing this is that, last year, we created an on-campus employer collaborative—the Strategic Workforce Collaborative. We have brought together all the airport employers, from the air cargo side to the passenger airlines and everyone in between, to talk about the issues on which we can collaborate today to achieve real results—exposing young people to careers in aviation, solving the ever-stubborn issue of better connecting people to their jobs, and creating aviation career pathways on airport, and more. I love this industry—and I hope we can instill that passion for those who come after me.
The future airport may look very different than today in the size and type of aircraft moving people and goods from place to place, but we will have to have seamless connectivity. Technology and innovation will require that we re-imagine the airport experience and work closely with our airline and other business partners to ensure an unforgettably positive experience, regardless of where the traveler’s trip begins or ends. Aviation is one of the most innovative industries in human history—after all, who would have thought that we could fly? We have to embrace what’s next, whatever that may be, and make it work for the benefit of our businesses and passengers.
Ms. McGraw received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Political Science from Duquesne University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. In addition, she has earned the International Airport Professional (IAP) designation.
Her Board affiliations include: Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Northern Kentucky Chamber; Cincinnati Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development; Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; ArtsWave; NKY Regional Alliance; and ACI.
Ms. McGraw’s Awards and Honors include: Recognized “Best Boss of Northern Kentucky”, 2013; Recognized as Outstanding Woman of Northern Kentucky, 2015; Received the YWCA Career Woman of Achievement Award, 2015; Nelson Schwab, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award recipient, 2017; Northern Kentucky University Lincoln award recipient, 2017; Northern Kentucky Business Hall of Fame inductee, 2018; and REDI of Cincinnati first annual Wm. T. Robinson III Onward and Upward award recipient.
The ACI WGB consists of 28 representatives nominated by the regional ACI Boards, plus the Immediate Past Chair of the Board. The number of regional representatives is calculated based on each region’s share of passenger and cargo traffic.
The ACI WGB meets twice a year for strategic discussions on key subjects for airport operators that reflect the concerns and interests of ACI members. They also determine ACI’s worldwide policies, report to the General Assembly, approve the budget, worldwide programme of activities, policy statements and participation in the work of other world bodies, among other duties.