Serendipity: Sometimes Things Happen for a Reason.

ryanavatar When a person turns thirty-years-old, the idea of being a “young person” has pretty much gone away.  You’ve passed the milestones of adulthood: you are old enough to drive, old enough to drink, old enough to get drafted (if that ever came about), and old enough to rent a car — which has become something of a 21st century right of passage at the age of 25.

But once you are 30; you’re an adult and there isn’t much left that’s off limits to you — except maybe an AARP membership — and that’s nothing I’ll look forward to. By this time, it’s assumed that you’ve got your life together and are past the entry-level jobs, have some sort of meaningful relationship, and are well on your way to personal success and happiness.

For me, I’ll remember my 30th year on planet Earth to be something of an interesting and strange year — one that became a perfect example of serendipity in motion.

Most everyone who reads my blog knows that I got hit with a layoff in March. Along with my team in the marketing department at Daniel Webster College, I was let go as part of a reorganization of that department.  For me, it was the end of a two-year employ at the college and a ten-year close relationship with DWC as a student, alumnus, volunteer, and employee (in that order).  It seemed like my life with DWC as an important part of my life ended with a 15-minute phone call on a Friday afternoon — and it wasn’t even ended by a person who had been part of my DWC family, but rather was a department head who had only known me for four months.

I was obviously crushed by the layoff and what followed was nearly four months of emotional roller coaster rides as I reflected on where my life was compared to where I hoped it would be when I first started my post-college career six-years earlier.

But after all that self-reflection I finally came to the conclusion that the layoff happened for a reason — because now I had the renewed spirit to go back to what has been my passion — aviation.

Though my Bachelor’s degree is in aviation management, I haven’t actually worked in the corporate aviation sector since I graduated six years ago.  My former position at the Collings Foundation was far more focused in non-profit marketing and publicity management, and though DWC had a flight department and an aviation program, I found myself doing little to actually promote that unit because it seemed the program was being purposely cut-back (note: this is just an opinion — it might just be the effect of the industry).

In effect, my participation with the aviation industry was waning — and I certainly wasn’t happy with it.  But now that I was unemployed, nothing was holding me back to find a niche back in the industry again.

So, I committed myself to finding a great position in corporate aviation — and thank goodness the Phoenix area is a haven of business aviation activity.  At any given moment in the Valley of the Sun, you’ll find at least a dozen aircraft of various sizes in our skies — so there’s a lot of options.

Unfortunately, the price of fuel and the soft economy has done a lot to curb hiring at many aviation companies, so jobs aren’t exactly overflowing from the career pages and job boards — especially on the administration side.  Only the most successful and solid businesses would venture to hire — and I was fortunate to find one — or rather it found me.

upperlogo Back in September 2007, right before I moved to AZ to join my wife already down here, I got an “out of the blue call” from a Vice President at Cutter Aviation in Phoenix who had been surfing around and came across my personal website highlighting my experience in website development for aviation enterprises. He was interested in hiring me as a contractor to rebuild the company website — one that was in serious need of redesign.

What was ironic is that I had just returned from visiting my wife in Phoenix the night before.  I clearly remember seeing Cutter Aviation through the window on the Southwest Airlines flight I was on — especially memorable because Cutter has the old air traffic control tower from Sky Harbor Airport installed as part of their terminal and office building.  I remember saying to myself “Hey, I should find out more about Cutter” right before we took off.

So when I moved down, I met with the folks at Cutter and they eventually hired me as a contractor to do the redesign.  While I worked on that project, Cutter contracted me to do other things — advertisements, email campaigns, postcards, etc.  Very quickly I found myself getting well acquainted with this company — a well established company.

Unlike many corporate aviation companies, Cutter Aviation has been around for eighty years.  Many companies out there, other than airlines, have been around for less than 50 years — due in part to the birth of modern business aviation happening after WWII.  Others have endured mergers and buyouts — turning from familiar family operations into large corporate megaliths.

Cutter remains family owned, operates eight locations around the Southwest, and has a diverse offering of services — fuel to maintenance, charter to aircraft sales.  With such a vibrant product mix and position of markets, I easily recognized the stability of the company and the strength of the brand.

So when the layoff happened in April, I obviously looked at Cutter as the best opportunity for me. Though the folks I worked for as a contractor had an interest in my work, I wasn’t sure if they would have a spot for me. There wasn’t an immediate opening in marketing the company and I knew summer is a time for conservative hiring for aviation companies — as it’s the slowest time of year (especially in the arid desert!)

After a few months of looking around, I thought the Cutter opportunity wouldn’t happen in time — but my patience paid off at the end of July.

A position for a Corporate Communications Coordinator — combining marketing and PR — was posted and I immediately applied.  It seemed like a perfect fit for me, easily able to capitalize on my marketing and publicity strengths.  I knew I could apply my passion… and really do something great for the company.

A week and a half later, after the standard background check and interview, I had an offer extended to me — and a week after that I reported for my first workday.

It’s the end of the first week, and I am more excited than I have ever been in regards to my career.  The company and the people that make it up have been fantastic to me and show a genuine love for what they do.  Their enthusiasm is contagious and combines well with my already-present passion for the industry!  In just the first week, I met with most of the managers within the various business units and have some great plans for the next six months to build business and communications.

What’s more, they already gave me something of a promotion — at least in the form of a title.  Everyone felt that the title of Corporate Communications Coordinator was a bit misleading, as I was going to be leading the production of marketing and communication programs.  So as a result, I have been re-titled as Manager of Marketing & Communications, a direct report to the Director of Corporate Marketing.

I cannot tell you how excited I am.  I have no problem getting up in the morning, and find myself energized and happy on my way to the office — even while fighting I-10 traffic!  Each day I go into the breakroom, upstairs in the FBO building, and look out over Cutters ramp and take in the view of the airport and our ramp — eating up the sight of those beautiful planes and being reminded how much I love aviation.

And serendipity shows that… aviation loves me too.

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6 Responses to “Serendipity: Sometimes Things Happen for a Reason.”

  1. Tyson

    Your recent success has already spread though some of the DWC Alum around here (I MAY have had something to do with that…) They send their shout-outs.

  2. Ryan Keough

    Thanks Tyson! Give them all a shout-out for me too!

  3. Rob Finfrock

    Congrats once again, Ryan! There’s no doubt in my mind Cutter made the right choice… and yes, Serendipity Happens.

    Let me know if they ever send you to the ABQ location — can’t imagine why they would, but ya never know….


  4. Rand Peck

    Hello Ryan,
    Congratulations on landing at Cutter, it sounds like a wonderful opportunity. But from my perspective, 30 is still a kid; so enjoy it. Don’t write off DWC though. That department head will move on or will be moved on and new opportunities will surface.

  5. Gordon R. Vaughan

    Congratulations. I’m impressed with companies that can keep growing under the same owners for years and years. They must be doing something right.

    I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how Phoenix is growing, growing, growing (my daughter’s moving out there, too). I was still surprised, though, to realize it’s the 5th biggest U.S. city now, right after Houston.

  6. Dan

    Ryan – you know I can’t be any happier for you even though all of your design skills are highly questionable…nudge, nudge, wink, wink

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