Over the last few years, ACI-NA has been proud to partner with Edge4Vets to help connect veterans with airports across North America to place them in careers that utilize the valuable skills they learned while serving in the military. Ahead of Armed Forces Day on May 18, ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke caught up with Los Angeles World Airports Director of Airports Administration Paula Adams to hear about LAWA’s work to support the veterans’ workforce in the Los Angeles area.
KB: Los Angeles World Airports has been an incredible supporter of the Egde4Vets program. Why is the program important and how you have developed it to serve veterans and your airport?
PA: One of LAWA’s strategic goals is to expect and support organizational excellence. Edge4Vets helps us meet that goal. We see the value that veterans bring to an airport environment and we are a better organization because of the 53 veterans who work with us across all divisions and levels of our team.
Being able to have someone join our airport system that knows how to work under pressure, who can meet deadlines, work as part of a team, and knows how to manage time is every hiring manager’s dream. These qualities are even more in demand at a large airport, and we know that in the right job, these veterans find wonderful opportunities to put their skills to good use.
Whether it’s with LAWA or one of our partners (e.g., airlines, concessions, retail, cargo), Edge4Vets provides veterans a unique opportunity to meet hiring managers face-to-face, which in today’s job market, is a powerful alternative to the now normal point-and-click path to an interview. In return, companies can learn more about how they can benefit from the skills that veterans bring to the table and may find new ways to bring those who have served our country into a new career.
KB: What successes stories have you experienced through the Edge4Vets program?
PA: The Edge4Vets program allowed us to make connections that might not have been made were it not for the format of the program. Edge4Vets allows a wide variety of airport companies to connect with individuals and learn about them within the context of their life as a civilian and a service member, and support them on a path to a living wage career. We have had a number of Edge4Vets participants who are now employed at LAX, and our hiring partners have been satisfied with the results. LAWA has found similar success in our hiring of Edge4Vets participants and we continue to seek out additional employees. In fact, just this week, LAWA made two provisional job offers to veterans who participated in the May 15 workshop. At that workshop, other airport companies who were there set up interviews with several veterans.
Further, at our most recent event, we heard from one veteran who highlighted “listening” as one of his key skills. After a little discussion and insight from the participating mentoring managers, the veteran elaborated that he was responsible for clearing landmines, which requires someone to have a large amount of self-restraint and ability to quietly listen. As an HR professional, I hear that story and think, “Here’s a person who is going to assess a situation based on what he knows before he acts.” He understands that there are costs to doing something wrong way, and is mindful enough to realize it. That’s a skillset that we can use.
KB: In the airport industry, collaboration between airports and their business and community partners is essential. How is Edge4Vets helping LAWA strengthen existing relationships and building new ones?
PA: The Edge4Vets workshop’s real strength is connecting people. It fosters an environment for collaboration, not only between veterans and airport hiring managers, but also between LAWA and our airport partners, including companies that operate at LAX and nonprofit groups throughout the region. Initiatives like Edge4Vets allow us to broaden our reach to people who may not have previously had the opportunity to consider a career at LAX, and include them as part of our airport community.
KB: If an airport were thinking about rolling out their own Edge4Vets program, what piece of advice would you give them?
PA: Reach out to your local nonprofit groups who support your veteran community and partner with them to funnel qualified veterans seeking employment to your event. Then, do it! Edge4Vets is a wonderful program and provides a benefit for all involved – the airport, our partners and veterans seeking careers. Our service men and women know what it’s like working for a team and all of our airport communities can benefit by adding them to our teams.
Is your airport interested in becoming an Edge4Vets partner? Airports across North America are partnering with Edge4Vets and ACI-NA to help connect veterans to aviation careers. Current participants include LAX, HOU, MIA, JFK and more.