Alexis Smollok received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Aviation Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She currently works as the Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge (SAC) of the Baltimore Field Office for the Federal Air Marshal Service.
Discuss your career path since graduating from Embry-Riddle?
After graduation, I worked as a Sales Representative for DHL Airways, the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey – Aviation Department where I started as an Operations Supervisory at Newark Liberty international Airport. I took an assignment in the “new” Security Unit at JFK International Airport and immersed myself in the Airport Security Field as I found it fascinating. My career progressed and I was promoted over the years into various Airport Security and Law Enforcement Management Positions all three NY/NJ Area Airports (EWR, LGA and JFK). Unfortunately and while working at JFK, I was able to witness first-hand the devastating effects of terrorism on families after the Pan Am 103 incident. Finding the Airport Security and Terrorism field fascinating and while still young enough and wanting to make a difference to serve our country with my skills, I applied for the FBI and was accepted into New Agents training. I started my career with the FBI in 1996 and after several years working as a “field” agent, accepted a promotion to FBIHQ, assigned to the Civil Aviation Security Program. While assigned to the program, I served on numerous, inter-agency working groups involving threat mitigation from an aviation perspective. As a result, I was selected to represent the FBI at the White House, Homeland Security Council as Director, Aviation Policy for a year and that was an incredible opportunity. I had the honor of working on many notable cases and proudly represented the Bureau on various working groups with the U.S. Military prior to transferring to the Federal Air Marshal Service, where I am currently the Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge (SAC) of the Baltimore Field Office.
How did your degree prepare you for a career with the Federal Air Marshal Service?
My degree is the foundation of knowledge that has afforded me success within the aviation industry. While a degree often enhances knowledge and application, it has also rendered intangibles such as an exceptional work ethic, integrity, perseverance, and determination; igniting an internal drive to pursue opportunities that otherwise would not have existed. As a direct result of my degree, I am more capable of collaborating with others to achieve a desired outcome, conducting detailed research to discover findings and disclose basic facts, and communicate effectively with a diverse population.
What are some of the professionally rewarding experiences you’ve had since your time at Embry-Riddle?
The most professionally rewarding experience I achieved at Embry-Riddle is the direct role I have played in implementing policies and procedures aimed at enhancing aviation security. It is an indescribable feeling of accomplishment to take part in such a prestigious task of protecting the American traveling public.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to pursue a career with a government agency?
Pick a career path that you not only love, but have a passion. Learn everything you can about whatever aspect of the industry you choose and work very hard (but don’t forget to have fun with your experiences). Another word of caution, time does seem to pass faster as you age.