From Financial Services to Aviation Leadership
Noel Hiney, MSc Management (Aviation Leadership) 2017 graduate, looks back on what he has gained from the programme:
Having spent a long and very fulfilling career in financial services, I left Bank of Ireland in 2015. Aviation was an industry that had always interested me, even though I had no direct experience in it (other than some student flying). Shortly after I left the Bank, Dublin City University (DCU) launched its Aviation Leadership MSc and I felt that this programme would be an ideal way for me to get a very strong induction into the sector. More importantly, it would provide me with the opportunity to meet and engage with a network of aviation professionals – there are very few other ways I would have been able to do this.
One of my key objectives when undertaking the Aviation MSc was to get to know the industry, and the people in it, better. The ability to do this has supported me in further developing my involvement in the sector after finishing the programme. I subsequently decided to continue my aviation education and am now doing a part-time PhD on airport business models and stakeholder relationships amongst European regional airports and organisations involved in surrounding regional economies. I have also been part of a professional services team which pitched for some aviation related business and believe, thanks to the DCU MSc, that I am now better prepared to undertake research and advisory work in various aviation areas.
One question people ask is what kind of roles generally open up after completing this course, especially if you are coming from a non-aviation background. I think the best place to start is to assess your current skills and experience and ask what part of the aviation industry this might this be most suited to, for example previous strategy, regulation and government affairs experience in my case. Obviously, some roles are very technical and industry-specific, and it’s likely to be difficult to move into a senior role in these areas straight away without prior experience. But I don’t think that you would have to start from scratch, as the MSc will stand to you and the contacts that you make on the programme can also be your ‘eyes and ears’ for future opportunities in the sector.
One strong recommendation I will make is that you carefully consider your dissertation topic. Pick an aviation subject that appeals to you, and one in which you would possibly be interested in doing further work or study when you finish. Your research journey will give you the opportunity to meet industry experts on your chosen topic, and work/other opportunities might emerge from such engagements. My experience was that industry professionals were very happy to meet me about my research.
I have also had the opportunity to join a network of European aviation researchers, broadening my exposure to industry topics (and contacts) even further. This would not have been possible without the DCU MSc.
If I was an aviation recruiter, I would certainly rate the MSc in Aviation Leadership very highly. It has the same academic ranking as an MBA, it has industry specific modules and it exposes students to contemporary aviation issues and a strong network of industry contacts. And several business subjects are covered on the programme, such as Leadership, Strategy & Innovation and Operations.
Throughout my experience with the MSc in DCU, I found the classroom discussions very beneficial. Across all subjects, the content was very interesting and well delivered, and it was easy to relate the topic to a current aviation issue or challenge. The fact that there were many industry experts ‘in the room’ also meant that class conversations and discussions were very rich. Guest lectures given in DCU by some of the most senior professionals in the industry, including Willie Walsh, Christoph Mueller and Michael O’Leary, further enhanced my MSc experience.
Most people who join the aviation industry stay in it, and I will say again that the strength of the class network (including faculty) has been the most beneficial thing for me. We still meet and call each other if we are looking for a view on something aviation related. And some real friendships have been built and maintained!
I also found the faculty in DCU extremely accessible. Dr. Marina Efthymiou was very supportive throughout my dissertation, and when I was considering further options afterwards. She has an excellent understanding of the sector across Europe from an academic perspective. On several occasions Marina was able to direct me to information sources, and introduce me to people, that I would not have been able to get access to myself. Marina’s aviation colleagues in DCU were also all very supportive to me.
As a Master’s degree programme, the MSc is quite challenging, of course! There is a lot of content to consider and absorb, and much reading and writing to be done. However, it is made that bit easier by the fact that you are studying something that really interests you and can help you to accelerate your personal and professional development.
Overall, I would highly recommend DCU’s MSc (Aviation Leadership) programme.
Interested? Join our upcoming Aviation Leadership programme webinar Wednesday, 25th January, 12pm.
The MSc in Management (Aviation Leadership) is a specialist postgraduate programme designed to provide participants with aviation knowledge in all key aviation sectors combined with an education in strategic management.
The teaching faculty possess academic expertise and a wealth of industry experience, with many having backgrounds across all branches of the industry – airlines, airports, ATC and regulatory offices.
The programme’s Guest Lecture series exposes students to leading aviation managers’ views of the important current issues in aviation and the challenges facing senior aviation managers.