INTOUCH : Managers Abroad – Carly Arnold: general manager, easyJet, London

What prompted you to seek work out of New Zealand?
My husband and I decided to go to the United Kingdom, primarily for travel but also for work experience. We had worked for two and half years post graduation and were ready for change in role. Growing up, I had listened with excitement to my parents talking about their “OE” and was eager to create my own adventures. From completing an intensive AFS exchange programme in France at the end of high school, I also discovered that the only way to really experience the culture was to live there.

Can you provide sketch of your current role?
I have been working as general manager for easyJet at London Luton Airport since March 2006. It is functional role including people management of 500 crew, budget accountability of £30 million and operational responsibility for 17 aircraft. My two main focus areas are flight operations and ground operations at the airport, and I work closely with all our internal teams and third party service partners to deliver safe, on-time and efficient operation.

How does it fit into your career path?
That’s difficult question to answer right now. I am in the process of reviewing what I’d like to be doing in five years’ time. However, my career to date has allowed me to work in both support and functional roles, as specialist and generalist; to understand most areas of the airline business and gain variety of different hard and soft skills.

What are its main challenges?
I love challenges and see them as opportunities. The most demanding are usually those involving people and juggling the strategic and the tactical.

What are the learnings you will take from it?
The three main things I have learned from this and previous roles are:
•Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from your mistakes;
•Be prepared to back yourself and take some risks;
•Be honest and take responsibility for your decisions.
There is no end to what you can learn and I hope to continue actively learning throughout my life.

How do you view New Zealand both as country and economic/business entity from where you stand now?
No matter how you look at it, New Zealand is fairly isolated from the rest of the world and fairly small in terms of market size, which together present significant challenge. In my opinion, New Zealanders as people are desirable, in large part thanks to our “just do it” attitude, our “think out of the box” mentality and hard work ethic. The old Kiwi ingenuity (number eight fencing wire) claims are surprisingly accurate – we do seem able to develop unorthodox solutions to problems and have an edge over some of our competitors because of this. In addition, Kiwis are not generally afraid to rock the boat little and tell it like it is – we’re straight-shooting bunch and that is often rare commodity in the business world. New Zealand businesses can take advantage of this natural ability and apply it to the way they work so as to punch above their weight. With shrinking world thanks to the internet and globalised logistics, the isolation and market size disadvantages will become less of an issue.

What sort of ongoing contribution can you / would you like to make to New Zealand’s economic/social welfare?
I’d like to think that I am an effective ambassador and represent New Zealand fairly well in my business relationships. Whether this might lead to New Zealanders being viewed favourably I’m not sure, but I do what I can. I hope that my experience overseas can be used to complement our economy through broader understanding of business and greater appreciation of other cultures.

•Carly Arnold is member of KEA, New Zealand’s global talent community – www.keanewzealand.com

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