Trevor Benjamin is an alumni from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach with a Master’s in Aviation Management.
Discuss your career path including your degree from ERAU.
My career path really began when I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelors degree in chemistry. Although I had a great passion to become a pilot from an early age, the idea was still far fetched because I knew that it will take some time to get the necessary financial resources to pursue the career of my dream. Later I was accepted into flying school and qualified as a commercial, multi-engine and instrument rated pilot. On completion of my flight training there were very little opportunities for pilots at our national airline so I operated as a charter pilot for a short time flying to other Caribbean islands while having to seek alternate support for myself. It was at this point I realized that teaching was the only other option that I had. Teaching had now become my full time job and flying was done whenever the opportunity presented itself.
The aviation bug continued with little success on the way forward. However, it was while talking to a flight instructor I was told that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida offered a degree in aviation management and that I should try and get more information should I be interested. I decided to write the school and a few weeks later I received some correspondence about the program and the necessary requirements to be accepted. With the support from the my family I was able to go to ERAU-Daytona Beach Campus in 1986 and enrolled in the Masters Degree in Aviation Management Program. My first first job after graduating in 1988 was as the coordinator of an airshow being held in Trinidad and Tobago. This was followed by several management positions with the private sector and later as the Airport manager at Piarco International Airport. I was sent on secondment to the Government of St Kitts and Nevis as airport manager at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and was appointed as the government’s representative on the first board of directors of the East Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA). On my return home I later joined the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies as the Coordinator for the MSc aviation management degree program at the department of management studies.
My career path continued as these opportunities provided extensive experience and development towards a strong aviation management background which was further strengthened by international training from both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). My career path has allowed me to serve as a former chairman of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and also a former deputy Chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago Civil Aviation Authority and currently as a senior instructor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago Aviation Campus. As an aviation ambassador with a strong diverse cultural background and experience with mentoring the youth in the Caribbean, it has also provided the impetus to work in enriching the lives of many through educational (STEM) and career opportunities using aviation as a building block encompassing all including differently abled individuals.
How did your experience as a pilot assist you in your airport management role?
My experience as a pilot has assisted tremendously in my role as an airport manager in understanding more about the safety aspects and regulations of airport operations. One key item that comes to mind is the importance of a checklist to be used during flight operations and also in the case of an airport emergency. Preflighting an aircraft before take off and runway inspections at the airport before operations are similar and most important as focus is always on safety in the air and on the ground.Being part of a flight crew or part of airport management also allowed the opportunity to become a team player
Can you discuss your STEM advocate role?
My introduction to STEM education began during a visit to a STEM aviation camp at Sun-N-Fun in Lakeland, Florida.The experience was overwhelming and I thought that this would be an opportune time to introduce such a program in Trinidad. I see my present and future role as a STEM advocate in offering independent support to those younger folks and to assist them in the use of science, technology, engineering and math by letting them know it can be better understood and become more interesting when using aviation as a platform. The success was greater than I expected and our STEM program exceeded 600 students which was record breaking. Because of the tremendous response the programs are being extended to several communities nationwide.
What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career?
My greatest accomplishment has been promoting aviation education through STEM with young people throughout Trinidad and Tobago, initiating events that involves grade school children, aviation entrepreneurs, orphaned children, disabled children, well known individuals in the aviation industry and retired aviators. Most recently I proposed and participated in an initiative coined The ABC (Aviation Building Communities) Program. The premise of the event was recognizing that some of the basic concepts used in the Aviation industry are like the basic concepts used in students’ everyday lives. To communicate these similarities, the ABC event brought local youth, together with members of the Aviation industry including police, airport fire fighters, staff from Caribbean Airlines, university faculty and many others.
What advice do you have for graduates who want to change career fields?
Before you decide, it is important to take the time to evaluate your present situation, to explore career option and to choose a career that will be more satisfying for you. I would suggest that you maintain your current position at your place of employment while working on any training to upgrade your skills and qualifications. This will allow you the opportunity to create a new resume for the new career field and job that you have desired. Whether you live on an island or large community, networking is key and one should use all opportunities available whether contacts or other resources to help find a new job. Always have a plan B in the event that things do not go as expected. Go after your dreams as failure should never be an option.