Meet Jared, an inspirational young leader, a go-getter AND Scoot’s General Manager. Read more as he spills his secrets on his success in the travel industry.

He’s one of the youngest travel industry professionals to be the general manager of an airline carrier, but he still made time to chat with KARRYON about his journey.

 

WHAT WAS THE REASON YOU JOINED SCOOT?

Scoot really strongly aligned with my values, were willing (and courageous enough!) to open the door to me, and were super ambitious with their growth plans. It wasn’t just talk either – Scoot really believed they could challenge the status quo, and were willing to invest in the right people and culture to get there.

It was like a kid looking at a train set and being told “don’t break anything, be respectful of the hard work that went in to getting it here, but besides that – just make it better” – which is pretty cool.

 

DID YOU ALWAYS HAVE AN INTEREST IN WORKING WITHIN AN AIRLINE? WHY?

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Me (in the middle) and my penpal Squadron Leader Keen.

When I was in primary school, I remember another kid’s parent coming in who was a commercial pilot for Air New Zealand and talked about his career. It sparked an aspiration in me that lasted on and off for years. I had a penpal at the Royal New Zealand Airforce (yes, we still had those in the 90’s) who was a strike pilot – I spent years obsessing about being a fighter pilot too and actually spend my 10th birthday at the Airforce base sporting the kick-ass bomber jacket mum made me for the occasion, sitting in the aeroplanes and flying the simulator. My mate Karl (in the red jacked) actually went on to join the Airforce.

Annoyingly, I wasn’t a great learner at that age and struggled with numeracy and literacy. At that time in history, it was taught if you wanted to be something as glamorous as a pilot you really needed to be an ‘A’ student – which I was not. I just wanted to play punk music with my mates and go on adventures in the bush. So, aviation was something I forgot about between the age of about 13 through until I re-joined the industry in my early 20’s.

Ironically – I didn’t willingly get back into aviation. I’d been in the music business for a while in my late teens and decided to build a bar with a friend at the eternally wise age of 21 (ugh, never again). Unsurprisingly six weeks later we were closed and nearly bankrupt so I moved to Auckland, stayed with a friend, and took a job as a baggage handler and ‘LAV’ driver at Auckland airport. While I can promise you the least glamorous job I’ve ever done is pump poo off aeroplanes – it did reconnect me with aviation, and for that I’ll forever be grateful.

I learned HEAPS – in three years between New Zealand and Australia I did everything from the poo truck, to towing business jets around, loading bags, assisting with charter operations, fixing equipment, marshalling aircraft, helicopters, I started to learn to fly – all sorts. I was fortunate to have people willing to teach me, great mentors, and many folks who likely simply tolerated this annoying, eccentric kid who had questions coming out of his ears and a problem with authority.

There was one final thing to overcome before landing that two-decade old ambition to work with aeroplanes though. Which was until half way through last year, I was catatonically scared of flying (I was on a diving adventure in quite a remote part of the pacific, in a questionable aircraft in very questionable conditions and had a near miss, hence the discomfort in airplanes for a while). But like all things awesome, you’ve got to conquer a thing or two to get it. I do about 150 days a year overseas, and have had some pretty exciting flights around the more turbulent parts of the planet and haven’t had any sweaty palms in a while (fortunately!).

 

HOW HAVE YOU HELPED CHANGE THE LCC SCENE?

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I don’t think I’ve done anything myself to change the LCC scene. But as an industry and community, we’ve gotten better at a few things. Listening to the customer, and really valuing their business is one.

Listening to our trade partners and understanding their needs – making sure they have an opportunity to earn off selling Scoot, and making sure we have good support for them have been key. We’re not perfect – but we’re getting better every day.

 

DOES BEING A YOUNG LEADER HAVE ANY BARRIERS IN THE AIRLINES INDUSTRY? WHY?

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I think entering the industry without a well-established network at a high level can be a challenge. You’ve got to learn and network at light speed, gather information that helps you make good decisions and work out quickly who and what should be influential.

You also don’t have decades of experience and wisdom to draw on. So, putting ego aside (something I still struggle with!) and asking for wisdom and expertise from the right people and sources takes some practice. I also had to develop my leadership style to suit the role, learn how to interact with a multi-national team, and overcome an element of imposter syndrome.

 

HOW DO YOU HANDLE PEOPLE THAT MAY NOT TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY?

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Easy. Do what you say you’re going to do, and do it well. It’s business – the objective is to make money. So if someone isn’t going to do business with you because you’re young – you take your business elsewhere and make someone else a heap of money and watch how quickly people start to take you seriously.

 

TELL US 3 TECHNIQUES THAT HELP YOU IN YOUR ROLE?

  1. Take no one for granted
  2. Be courageous & accept you can’t possibly be perfect
  3. Ask for guidance when you don’t know

 

WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR BIGGEST ASSET THAT HAS BEEN THE DRIVING FORCE TO YOUR SUCCESS?

I know myself. What I’m good at, and what I need to be better at. What comes naturally to me and what doesn’t. I try and teach others what I know how to do and learn from people who know better than me. Do that every day in a place which affords you the opportunity to grow and you’ll succeed.

Never, ever, settle for mediocre. Remember that in some form or another, today should be an improvement on yesterday. Stay focused.

 

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY? DID YOU SET GOALS? AFFIRMATIONS?

I worked my ass off. Made time for everyone with a question, comment or opportunity, tried to bring value to the business I was in, it’s customers and people every day. I never settled for ‘good enough’ and needed to feed my hunger for success and an ambition to be a change agent.

I didn’t set goals. For some people, I think that long term goal setting is important – but I also think if you focus too hard on one goal, you’ll miss those on your peripheral vision. Look over your day now and again and ask, ‘Is the path I’m on the correct one?’, ‘Am I doing the right thing for the right reasons, am I happy, have I missed something by only looking toward that goal I set a while ago?” Purpose check yourself frequently.

 

WHAT WOULD BE A LIFE LESSON THAT YOU HAVE LEARNT IN THIS ROLE?

Just one?! Woah… I’ve learned that I’m really, really small, and not perfect, and so is everyone else. We’re all individually perfect in our imperfection – but together, as a hodgepodge of personalities, stories, talents, ambitions and characters – we can be big.

 

WHAT TIPS & HINTS CAN YOU SHARE WITH OTHER YOUNG LEADERS?

Know your stuff. Stay relevant. Be respectful of the legacy before you. Stop saying goofy stuff to yourself like – it’s not my time, or I’m not ready, or ‘one day’ and go out and do. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll probably balls up, embarrass yourself and learn heaps – GOOD.

Don’t worry about what will happen if you get it wrong, and think about what will happen when you get it right. Rinse and repeat. Youth gives the benefit of being able to recover quickly. You’ve got so many years to make mistakes, learn, evolve, get better, and do it again.

Take accountability even if it’s not yours on paper. Stop waiting for permission to show initiative and do good work. Accept not everyone will want you to succeed, and get really good at affirming yourself. Value the success of others ahead of your own. Listen to your team and HAVE THEIR BACK FIRST – don’t go out and kiss the butts of senior leadership to progress your own career.

Progress other people to progress yourself.  

Your job is to lead, and leaders show courage, communicate and play politics – get good at that.

 

IF YOU COULD RUN A WORKSHOP ON LCC, WHAT WOULD YOU COVER?

I’d never run a workshop on LCCs. It’d be boring as hell. Complex yield management, ancillary pricing, aircraft type and utilisation, network planning – to me, super interesting. To anyone else – death by powerpoint.

I’d have a go at a ‘modern tourism’ workshop though. And I’d cover a few things that wind me up.

Let’s start with this. Talent doesn’t have a gender, sexuality, colour, nationality, ability or age. We’re all saying it. Let’s start acting it, eh? Talk is cheap, folks.

You know what makes kick ass companies right? It’s kick ass people – and they might not all be like you. You might not like how that makes you feel. It might make you uncomfortable – but if you can’t handle a little discomfort in building the right team rather than a team like you, then you shouldn’t be hiring.

Diversity = security in a business.

It’s ok to stick your neck out. Challenge the status quo. Stand up for what you believe. Try and leave this little blue dot in the middle of nowhere and the people on it in a better place than you found it. Be kind to one another.

It’s also ok to be super competitive and want to succeed. Don’t allow anyone to rob you of your achievements – but try not to be a jerk in accomplishing them.

 

WHO ARE YOU MOST MOTIVATED BY IN THE INDUSTRY?

Alison Webster – CEO of Qantas International.

I’ve never met her but I’ve heard her speak a few times and read a number of interviews. She’s fearless (has made it known she’d like to head Qantas succeeding Alan Joyce), and over a 13 year career has risen to very near the top – earning it every step of the way. I deeply admire her tone internally and externally. I think that comes down to a very, very, effective leadership style, sense of gratitude, ability to focus on the right activity, and a sincere sense of love and care for her people, passengers and colleagues.

James Thornon (CEO) and Brett Mitchell (Regional MD) at Intrepid Group.

A pair of badasses. They get it. They understand the long-term commercial value of their business comes from making responsible, compassionate, loving, intelligent, ethical and practical decisions now. Not later. They hold themselves and their businesses accountable. Their people freaking love them. So do their customers. They don’t know what mediocre means.

Christopher Luxor – CEO, Air New Zealand

I’m proudly a kiwi. I went to School in Wellington and call a little alpine town called Tekapo home (that’s about halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown). So when it comes to Air New Zealand, there’s a whole heap of national pride. When I think about the kind of leader I’d like to be – I look up to Chris. Again, never met the guy, but the carriers results and culture are immediately reflective of the way it’s lead. You’d be forgiven for forgetting they’ve had a fuel crisis, a number of aircraft needing premature maintenance, some pretty wild debates at a governmental level as well as the usual challenges every airline faces day to day. Yet, they’ve delivered another record profit, executed a codeshare with Qantas, and between the leadership team and some 12,000 staff – must be running out of room in the trophy cabinet.  

 

What’s YOUR secret to success within the travel industry?