Challenges of an Operations Manager
in my last blog entry, I promised to give you an insight into my work as a Cross Border trainee at the airport in Stockholm. As luck would have it, I am currently filling in for the operations manager on an interim basis while he is on vacation. It is safe to say that the past few weeks have been the most intense time of my first year as a trainee. In short – there are a lot of interesting things going on right now.
An operations manager has to deal with a wide variety of topics. Staff planning, taking care of cabin reports as well as aircraft delays and ensuring quality controls as well as proper documentation throughout the department are all part of the work. In addition to that, there are routine tasks – such as overseeing the man-hours of the department and approving invoices – that have to be done on a daily basis.
One of the most fun – yet at the same time difficult – tasks is the scheduling of staff. For every flight catered, a certain number of trucks and loaders have to be available. This number depends on a variety of factors such as the aircraft type and configuration as well as the turnaround time amongst others. Due to sickness and other unpredictable events, the originally planned schedule is undergoing constant change and as a result, alternative solutions often have to be developed on short notice which makes this task a rather challenging one.
Other important and interesting parts of my current role are the daily discussions and meetings with the staff. During the peak season, employees are facing constant pressure due to a high workload and very tight schedule. Therefore, an essential task of every department head is to keep up the motivation within the group while – at the same time – demanding the best possible performance of every individual. I have to say that this is a really tricky task since every person has a different personality and therefore reacts differently. It is fascinating to experience these differences and to learn how to deal with them.
All in all, my current role feels like a recapitulation of the entire assignment in Sweden. These past four weeks as an interim operations manager allowed me to ‘get my feet wet’ and helped me to get a better understanding of what it means – as well as needs – to be a manager. On the one hand, I realized how much fun – all troubles aside – it can be to work as a department head. On the other hand, I was able to identify areas in which I still have a lot to learn. It was a great experience for which I am very thankful.
In a little less than five weeks, my first year as a Cross Border will already come to an end. In late August, I will be transferring to my new assignment and therefore, my next blog entry will be published when I am already with the Operational Excellence team at the airport in Frankfurt. Personally, I am really looking forward to this challenge and I am sure that I will have plenty of new and interesting topics to talk about. Stay tuned!