What appealed to you about UNSW and your degree?
After exploring a few university options it was that most of the lecturers were actively working in the industry that led me to choose UNSW. My objective was to learn practical skills and knowledge. I already knew aviation was a complex industry so it was important to me that those I was learning from would bring that appreciation to the course content. I made the right decision.
What is the most valuable thing you took away from your time at UNSW?
The diversity of disciplines and with that the opportunities that it brought. One unit I was reading legislation the next I was calculating terminal capacity. Related to that was the appreciation of being open to learning new things in the industry. When I enrolled I was already working in aviation security so assumed that would be my favourite subject. Whilst I enjoyed it, including learning different aspects, it was access to parts of the industry that I had never really given much thought to or appreciation for that I gained most from.
It was this degree that led me to have a keen and continued interest in human factors and organisational culture. To this day I am an active advocate of holistic security; putting the human at the heart of the solution drives better outcomes.
Where has your career taken you?
All over the place figuratively and literally!
I’ve worked for the Australian aviation security regulator in Australia, Singapore and Indonesia; seconded into Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation; employed by ICAO in Thailand working across Asia-Pacific and now in the UK via Dubai with Arup as their Global Aviation Security Leader.
Whilst I’ve continued to specialise in aviation security, I’ve been lucky to have a wide range of experiences within it: I’ve worked in threat and risk, capacity building, regulatory and oversight, technology developments, culture change, design and contributing to the world’s sharing of such expertise. And through that I have met some of the industry’s greatest minds and characters and - most treasured - friends.
Unlike many other aspects of the aviation industry, the catalyst for security is one we all wish didn’t exist. I do however feel incredibly privileged to have had access to the wide-ranging elements of the discipline.
What innovations do you think the industry needs?
The complexity of aviation is driven by the interdependencies and interfaces between systems (physical, societal, environmental and government), humans, technology and data. The greatest successes will come with an increased recognition of these interdependencies and the greatest innovations will come from those solutions that are designed and delivered as enablers rather than problem solving alone.
For example, is a security technology solution successful if its sole focus is threat detection at the expense of human factors, passenger experience, integration with space and consideration of cost? Is it an inhibitor or enabler that the last bastion of the human to human interface in an airport is the passenger screening checkpoint?
What would your advice be for those currently studying or considering the study of Aviation at UNSW?
Network, network, network…it’s a small industry! And use the opportunity to really stretch yourself. The degree content is practical, so it’s an ideal opportunity to absorb, test and grow before you put those learnings in practice. Challenge your peers and the teaching staff to better each other’s thinking and application. The industry is epitomised by continual improvement; you’re now part of it so start that contribution early.