The sky is the limit: Advancing my career in aviation

Guest Author by Guest Author | Aug 5, 2020

Building the capacity of the aviation industry is important, not just in helping to respond to emergencies such as the current COVID-19 outbreak, but also in securing the long term sustainability of the industry. Dr. Nor Azlina Mohd Isa, Head, Facilities Management & Development, AirAsia Group talks about how the Global ACI-ICAO Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme (AMPAP) gave her career a boost.

My journey with AMPAP was truly remarkable. Across continents and time zones, I connected and learned, not only from instructors and learning materials but most importantly, from fellow airport professionals throughout the world.

There is a famous saying in the aviation industry “once you have been bitten by the aviation bug, you can hardly recover from it”. The aviation bug has been with me since I was born. With my father working as an Airman with the Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) and growing up next to airports my entire life, I hardly stood a chance.

How my aviation career started and grew

I was very fortunate to land a career in the airport industry from an early stage in my career. I spent two years plus in manufacturing and construction before landing a job at Malaysia Airports after graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Malaya in 1999. After working with Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad for almost 7 years, I received the opportunity to enroll in the Global ACI-ICAO Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme (AMPAP). The modules and overall learning experience make for a unique programme specific to aviation. I enjoyed the face to face and online modules, especially when we had to collaborate in group assignments where the team members were from different continents and time zones, working together to complete the given tasks. I participated in the programme between 2010 to 2011, it helped me develop into a more diverse airport professional as the modules covered a broad perspective of subjects within the aviation industry .

After completing the program, I had the privilege to continue the learning experience by becoming one of the instructors for an AMPAP online mandatory courses, the Airport Planning, Development and Environmental Management (APDE). Each cohort brought a different focus to the classroom, which provided me with a new and enriching experience every time. One important insight was that no matter where we were located around the world, our issues and challenges as airport professionals had some similarity, despite our location and scenarios.

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If you’ve seen one airport, then you’ve just seen one airport – I have heard this from a few mentors throughout my aviation career, and I have personally experienced how true this statement is.  Understanding each airport requires an understanding of all aspects of the airport’s operations, such as the governance and ownership structure, the traffic profile, and the airport’s role.

Managing stakeholders and the future of Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2

My love for the aviation industry has also inspired my doctorate research entitled “Project and Operational Stakeholders’ Perspectives of an Airport Terminal Project Outcome”. The study was a post-implementation project review on one of my most significant work experiences, i.e. the planning and developing the klia2 terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2

I enrolled in the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) programme at Universiti Teknologi MARA in February 2014, while the Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 (klia2) terminal project was about to be completed and commissioned.

The klia2 terminal was a tough project, especially from the perspective of managing the stakeholders’ requirements. Balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders and taking a position for what is best for the long term was a huge challenge, more so when the decision affected project resources.

Having completed the project in May 2014, I started my doctorate journey at about the same time, inspiring me to capture some of the main challenges and as as a result conducting a post-project review, from the perspective of multiple and a collective stakeholders. The stakeholders’ requirements were diversified and sometimes even contradictory. As many in the industry are aware aviation stakeholders are complex and managing them requires an in-depth understanding of the industry as well as an appreciation of their specific contextual requirements. 

Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 Aerobridge

It was an exciting yet controversial aviation project, which is the primary hub for my current employer, the AirAsia Group. I worked on my thesis from 2014 and ended up living through the various stakeholder roles, as I transferred from the development planning team in Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) to the airport operations team and finally moving to an airline, the AirAsia Group in April 2018.

Career takeaways in aviation

My fellow mentors and colleagues from the industry, especially from the International Airport Professional Community of Practice (IAP COP), which was formed in 2012 by AMPAP graduates, have also inspired me to ensure that my portfolio in the industry is diversified so that I can fully understand the critical survival issues for airports and airlines as well as other players in the industry. There is a lot more to learn from this dynamic industry, and I am rooting for innovation and technology to play a massive role in the introduction of several ground breaking changes in aviation. Without my constant drive to learn more and finding ways to acquire this knowledge, I don’t believe I would be where I am today in my career as leading aviation professional.

Dr. Nor Azlina Mohd Isa currently works as the Head, Infrastructure Development, AirAsia Group. She completed her AMPAP accreditation in 2011 and has since become one of the instructors for future students.

AMPAP is the world’s only course-based accreditation programme for airport executives delivered both face-to-face and online. All individuals who occupy a management position within a civil airport organisation are eligible to apply. For airport management professionals, the International Airport Professional (IAP)  designation is the global standard of excellence.

The article was provided by a third party and, as such, the views expressed therein and/or presented are their own and may not represent or reflect the views of ACI, its management, Board, or members. Readers should not act on the basis of any information contained in the blog without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without appropriate professional advice.

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