Discuss your career plan since graduating from ERAU and more about your current role at Fly Victor
I graduated from Embry-Riddle in the shadow of the tragic events of 9/11. As a French citizen I could not fly for the airlines at the time so I ended up working in crew scheduling at ACA (a regional carrier) and then quickly landed a job flight instructing out of Teterboro NJ, a stone’s throw from NYC.
In Teterboro I was immersed in the day to day of General Aviation and with Business Aviation in particular. I quickly fell in love with the dynamic nature of the business and it its OnDemand nature. I instructed, flew for hire, and worked in charter sales and then aircraft management. My interest in the business side brought me to INSEAD and Wharton for my MBA and ultimately to Dassault Falcon where I sold business aircraft for their North American business unit. Whilst I would have liked my career plan to be a lot more “dead reckoning” in pilot speak, I quickly realized, pilotage was a much more powerful skill. I moved on from Falconjet in 2017 and ended up at Victor, putting all my years of experience and savoir faire to work at digitizing the aircraft charter space, a business that remains largely today, an analog affair.
At Fly Victor I am responsible for our entire North American business headquartered out of NYC. We are a London HQ’d company, and Europe’s 2nd largest On-Demand jet broker. Victor uses proprietary technology to serve as a digital middle man between Victor members who want to charter executive aircraft and aircraft operators that need to monetize their fleet. We are applying the e-commerce model to flying private. With offices in London, NYC and Santa Barbara, Victor offers follow the sun service 24/7/365 to our valued members. As the MD (local CEO) of the business I oversee all business operations and manage our North American P&L.
How did ERAU help prepare you for your future career endeavors?
ERAU was seminal in preparing me for my future. The aviation business is a particularly tough business – and it requires passion, grit, discipline, and mastery of several areas of knowledge. It is also incredibly international. ERAU is by far the best institution to give you that global perspective. Whilst a student, I worked side by side with folks from every corner of the world, learnt their customs, their perspectives, and in business that is paramount. You only get one chance at a first impression as the saying goes, so load up on as many experiences as you can beforehand so you can increase your playbook and call on them when the time is right. Despite being seen at the time as singularly focused on aviation, my education at ERAU was wide in scope – I did a minor in math, studied philosophy and did engineering courses. Being well rounded out is vital, and ERAU excelled at that.
What do you believe has been the secret to your success?
A positive attitude, perseverance and a good dose of reality every now and again. Life can be incredibly difficult – so it is essential to be able to accept that you will and should make mistakes and admit that there are many factors that are outside your control. Identifying what you can change, and where and when you can apply efforts to steer a result is key. There is a saying that you should fail fast, and to some extent that is true, but you should really fail with intent. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
What advice do you have for students/alumni who are interested in the private jet charter industry?
My advice goes beyond charter. I would say that students and alumni should really seriously consider careers in business aviation as a whole and to not discount the value of GA (General Aviation). If you are really passionate about aviation, whether you are an aviator, a business person, an engineer, a historian, whatever your calling, business aviation is at the very forefront of it all. The most advanced tech is in business aviation. For example, Combined Vision Systems are being readily deployed on business aircraft all around the world – we will soon probably be able to land without any visual reference. The fastest production aircraft are business aircraft, the next supersonic aircraft will be an executive aircraft – the list goes on.
The pioneering spirit of discovery is still alive and strong in business aviation. It is important to remember that every large step change in aviation has been driven predominantly by GA and more specifically by entrepreneurial ventures. Jimmy Doolittle conquered IFR flight with the backing of the Guggenheims.
The advice I have for today is multi factorial – As a student, what will you do to push the envelope further? How do you make it a reality?
And to paraphrase Thomas Edison, success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Ideas go nowhere without a strong and persistent will to make them a reality. Also don’t discount your dreams – have a vision.
A great line from St Exupery (famour aviator and writer) “ What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”