I added this brief intro to my message because there’s a bit of turmoil right now, at the Association of which I reference, but I’m not going to comment on this, but my message is to focus more on the people who make an association successful.
You never know what opportunities are just one simple moment or decision away. In the mid-2000’s, I was the new Defense Purchasing Compliance Officer at Rolls-Royce, and we had two new leaders who wanted our company to play a role in the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). Being one of the few leaders, who had experience working with the government, I got selected.
This past week, I attended the AIA Supply Management Councils (SMC) Spring meetings, which marked my 14th year at AIA, representing my company, with most of this time holding down an elected ExCom/Leadership seat on the SMC board.
It is bittersweet to say that this is the beginning of what will be my last year as I will be retiring next year.
During this time, I have had some unique opportunities and met some incredibly wonderful and dedicated professionals, representing over 300 companies.
Ironically, and I believe a bit unprecedentedly, I served as two different companies’ representatives, because a few years ago, I retired from Rolls and almost immediately went to work for General Electric Aviation. In another stroke of incredible irony, GE’s AIA rep was retiring and they immediately handed the role to me. So all-in-all, I was basically gone from the AIA for a total of 2 weeks, in between roles, over the past 14 years.
My first AIA event was in Charleston SC where, along with an incredible meeting, I got to see Fort Sumter-a real treat for a Civil War buff like me. There are too many “perks” to mention, but during these years I’ve seen the 737 production line at Boeing, the F-16 fighter assembly line at Northrop Grumman, Dealey Plaza and the Texas Book Depository in Dallas, the F-35 fighter assembly line at Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest heat treat oven at Vaught (now Boeing), the A-320 assembly line at Airbus, watch an NHL game from a suite in DC, have a reception on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and race an Indy car, on a simulator, in good-old Indianapolis.
As much as these places were very cool, none of them compare to the incredible people I’ve met and had the fortune to work with. It’s always a huge risk when you start naming people because YOU WILL forget people who truly deserve to be mentioned.
Dana Hullinger, Kurt Ravenfeld, Mark Swofford, Sue Vrzak, Lori Harper, Briggs Forelli, Ralph Denino, Daniel “Danny” Olmes, Trowbridge Littleton, Dave Melcher, Marion Blakey, Brianna Houghland, Mark Miller, Shawn Burkle, Bev Gaskin, are just some of the great leaders who have spent very valuable time at AIA, and whom I call very good friends.
Current members and longtime associates Clare McGarrey, Anne Shybunko-Moore, Greg Bloom, Paul “PK” Kling, Vern Heyer, Jeff Miller, and Monika Nielsen, who still support AIA and are just incredible leaders, professionals, and most importantly great friends!!!
Although “formal” retirement is still nearly a year away, in the coming months, I hope to be mentoring my eventual replacement and wish them the very best as they go forward representing GE Aviation. I’m sure this person will do as well, and likely far better, than I.
During retirement, I will be doing some public speaking (I know – who would of thought “Quiet Kent” was a public speaker 😊?), posting messages on my blog, and spending a great deal of time with family and friends supporting our charities. This is no sales pitch because we sell nothing - just positive messages and resources!!! If you’d like to check out our business; 46:10 Ministries, go to our web site: https://godandourcountry, or better yet, join our website for bi-weekly messages and trustworthy resources. Our non-for-profit charges no fees and accepts no advertising. We would love to share our messages and resources with you!!!
In closing, I want to very very sincerely thank everyone I have had the fortune to work with at AIA. But I really want to single out the best industry leaders and dear friends, whom I’ve mentioned before but cannot mention enough.
Clare, Anne, Greg, Vern, Jeff, PK, Brianna, Mark, and Monika…thank you, thank you, thank you, for being such good friends and for always showing up when our many teams needed you. I HAVE BEEN SO BLESSED TO KNOW YOU AND CALL YOU FRIENDS!!!