Richard Ison

General Manager

My department is called Performance Improvement and works across our Technical Operations business to provide support and development in several ways.

We help business areas improve their processes by using programmes such as Continuous Improvement.  We assist line managers by providing additional management and project support to help them with long term and/or difficult projects.  Members of my team also work to break down interdepartmental barriers and improve process flow between different departments.  Finally our organisational development team work in the area of development and training of our staff.  This not only involves ensuring mandatory training is delivered but also new and exciting programmes are delivered for the betterment of our people.

I work in this area because it allows me to come into contact with a wide range of areas across Tech Ops and also I go home each day knowing I (and my team) have “made a difference” somewhere in the business.

Where did your journey start?

My journey started underneath my 1952 Ford Prefect.  Or more correctly I was under my Ford Prefect when my journey started.  Whilst I was still at high school I loved fixing cars.  My adult neighbour often helped me and taught me skills.  One day he asked me what I wanted to do for a job.  I said I loved fixing cars but I did not want to be a motor mechanic.  He told me of his friend who was an Aircraft Engineer.  I talked to his friend and, to cut a long story short, here I am still in the industry after over 30 years!

Where’s your journey taken you so far within Air New Zealand?

I have been an apprentice Aircraft Engineer, a licensed Aircraft Engineer and then I have held a number of supervisory positions in the field of aircraft maintenance.  I have run planning departments and managed our hangar facilities in Christchurch.  More recently I have worked in business development and managed our Auckland jet engine overhaul shops.  My various roles have taken me to exciting parts of the world and I have had the opportunity to live and work in other countries as well.  A company the size of Air New Zealand gives so many potential opportunities if you are prepared to work hard and work within the team.

Where do you hope your journey will take you?

I am not sure where and when my next career move will be.  But I do know I want to be in a job that not only makes me happy but also gives me the knowledge I am contributing to the success of my company and also the people who work here.

What Air New Zealand value do you feel you best represent and why?

Be Yourself.  I pride myself on being myself and not needing to pretend to be something I am not.  I am sure this makes life easier for those who work around me as they see consistent behaviour from me.  It also allows me to put my effort into my job rather than pretending to be someone that I am not.

What’s the best story you’ve been able to tell after a day at work?

We had an unfortunate incident many years ago when a B747 was being towed.  It’s wing came too close to the tail of a Fokker Friendship F27 aircraft and badly damaged the F27 tail.  I was involved in the substantial repair of the F27 which took several weeks and was a very unique job.  A couple of us engineers agreed to be involved with the test flight before we put the aircraft back into service.  There was a little apprehension on the part of the pilots because of the extensive work that had been done to the aircraft.  But I remember being so proud when the pilot said that, “if you engineers are so confident in your work that you are prepared to fly on this aircraft then I am more than happy to fly  it”.  To me that encapsulates the essence of our business.  We all have to do a good job and trust each other to do so.


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