Fiona is a senior stakeholder engagement specialist with over 25 years’ experience working within the aviation industry. She is committed to working closely with customers to transform the customer experience of air travel and to enable the transition to net zero aviation.
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Key Account Director, Aviation
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As Key Account Director for Aviation, Fiona is committed to helping to shape the future of airport operations and infrastructure. She is passionate about what she does, providing strategic advice to help airport operators transform the customer experience and transition to net zero aviation. Fiona has recently been appointed as Deputy Chair of the British Aviation Group’s Airport Consultants Group where she will shape opportunities to deepen industry collaboration, share best practice and lessons learned, and support initiatives which widen access to careers in aviation.
Fiona on her role
I joined Costain three years ago. As Key Account Director for Aviation, my areas of specialism are airport operations and stakeholder engagement. I really enjoy the collaborative aspect of my role and I believe passionately that together we are far stronger than the sum of our individual parts. I am delighted to have recently been elected as Deputy Chair of the British Aviation Group’s Airport Consultants Group, a fantastic forum for the aviation industry to address the biggest challenge of our time; the transition to net zero. In this role, alongside the Chair and my fellow Deputy Chair, I will be shaping opportunities to deepen collaboration across organisational boundaries, to share best practice and lessons learned, and to widen access to our fantastic industry.
What led Fiona to her career
I started my career as a retail buyer for major brands such as John Lewis and Jane Shilton. Once we started a family, I sought a more flexible career where I could balance being challenged with bringing up three sons! I started working with British Airways at Heathrow, initially part time and then moving to full time as the boys got older. In this time, I seized every opportunity to stretch myself and learn new things. I tried my hand at lots of secondments with different teams, building my technical ability and cementing strong relationships across the business.
My first managerial role was overseeing the Terminal 5 readiness project. This role came with a lot of responsibility and was a fantastic chance to show just what I could do. I was accountable for overseeing the recruitment of the teams that would carry out the T5 proving trials, making sure that the new space would work for employees and that they had all been familiarised with the new terminal before its opening.
I went on to lead significant change programmes for BA, honing advanced stakeholder engagement skills. Highlights include managing the Terminal 3 ramp and baggage programme and introducing new ways of working for the team, heading up the T3 and T5 dispatch teams as they efficiently readied aircraft turnarounds, leading the implementation of T5’s biggest ramp change management programme and ultimately heading up a team of over 1500 people in T5 baggage.
I have channelled my years of experience into working collaboratively to establish Costain’s aviation business, working with aviation customers across the UK. Being part of growing something new from the very beginning is really exciting. I love the diversity of our customers and being able to offer them a wide range of services from the wider business, including our energy and technology teams.
What's the most common misunderstanding of Fiona's role?
People are often surprised to hear that Costain can offer a whole lifecycle range of consulting, digital and construction services. We’re really proud of this mix, our 155-years’ experience delivering complex major projects informs our consulting and digital service offerings, while they serve to enhance the effectiveness of our complex programme delivery – it’s a win-win!
How Fiona's role contributes to improving people's lives
We’re committed to being a net zero business by 2035 at the latest. A big part of this is helping our customers to decarbonise their operations. As a business, we are playing an active role in defining the role of hydrogen within the wider energy mix, and how it can enable the transition to sustainable aviation. Flagship projects in this space include FlyZero, where we assessed the turnaround requirements at airports for hydrogen-fuelled aircraft and Connected Places Catapult’s Zero Emissions Flight Infrastructure project, where we explored the infrastructure requirements to support the at-scale adoption of hydrogen. We’re even walking – or driving! – the talk, with our own hydrogen-fuelled car.
Fiona's top tip on a successful career in aviation
Aviation is a bit like Marmite, people tend to either love it or hate it. If you love it like I do, then you get the bug! My top tip for those looking to build a career in aviation would be to learn from those around you – how do they handle successes and how do they respond when things are challenging? I think a healthy dose of realism is important too – a career trajectory is rarely linear, and if you expect a direct route to your dream job, you may well be disappointed. Gaining a broad insight into your chosen field will always stand you in good stead, even if you specialise as your career progresses.
Three things you might not know about Fiona
- I can play the piano accordion and when I was younger, I was in a country and western band. I also used to teach the piano accordion when I was in my late teens.
- I love dancing, especially Latin American, ballroom and Irish dancing – Strictly is always on in our house!
- I’m a real family person, my family and friends mean everything to me.