Focus On: Aviation Leasing & Finance 37 COMMERCIAL CONTENT

The SundayBusinessPost November17,2019

Jobopportunitiestakeoffinaviation Increaseddemand for a varietyof top talent has led tonewthird-level courses,more internships and attractive salarypackages across the sector,writes LorraineCourtney

A huge factor in the decision by aviation com- panies to locate here in Ireland is the skillset we can offer right across thesector.Theaviation industry is enjoying an un- precedented level of growth, andSuzanneFeeney, director at Robert Walters, said that 2019hasbeenastrongyearfor jobopportunitiesinthesector. “Ireland is a leading hub internationally for aircraft leasing and finance, with over 5,000 people employed in this space,” she said. “Ar- easlikecreditrisk,accounting and finance have remained particularly strong over the course of the year. We have also seenan increasingnum- ber of opportunities opening up within anti-money laun- dering (AML) and corporate compliance. Companies that provide accounting services to aircraft lessors have also been hiring rapidly over the past two years, creating op- portunities for professionals intheareasof accountingand company secretarial.” Roles are becoming more focused on financial mod- elling and there has been an increase in the tax positions that are opening up. “From an accounting perspective, we are seeing continuous and significant hiring,” said Feeney. “We are seeing can- didates who are very keen to move into the sector as salary packages and benefits become more attractive due to increased demand for top talent. Companies remainfo-

Technology. “The Smurfit School of Business Masters in Aviation Finance is the only one of its kind in Europe,” said Feeney. “The coursewas set up in re- sponse to the demand from a growing sector for strong specialist skills, particularly at leadership level. Not sur- prisingly, there is significant interest in sucha course and, given that only a small num- berof applicantsareaccepted eachyear,thecoursenaturally hasahighvalueforemployers and companies. “The programme accepts students from a variety of backgrounds,includinggrad- uates of commerceandengi- neering, andcovers a specific rangeofaviation-relatedskills aswell asmodulesonnegoti- ations, law and economics.” The Law Society also has a number of courses, focusing on aviation from a legal per- spective. “A growing number of the legal professionals that weworkwithare takingsuch courses,” said Feeney. “They arebeginning tosee thevalue from a personal and profes- sional development point of view, and the opportunity it provides to transition into the leasing space.” Feeneysaidthatexceptional academic qualifications are veryimportantforcandidates looking tomove into the avi- ation sector. “There’s such an interest from candidates to break into this sector, but it’s definitely one where experi- enceandqualificationshelpto get your foot in thedoor,” she said. “The roles areoftenspe-

Suzanne Feeney, director at Robert Walters,

cused on taking accountants who have audit experience within aviation. In the past, roles in the avi- ation sector would be filled byschool-leaverswhowould conduct professional train- ing within the industry, but new courses at third level give applicants the edge in an ever-changing industry. “Qualifications are becom- ing more common and there has beena significant growth inthenumberof aviation-re- lated courses on offer at both undergraduate and graduate level. My advice to young professionals looking to en- ter the aviation industry is to seek out relevant qualifica- tionsas themarket continues tobecomemorecompetitive,” saidFeeney.Therearecourses by institutions such as UCD, DCU and Carlow Institute of

Australia and the UK.” Given that roles within the industry typically require travel -with negotiations of- tentakingplaceoverseas–the notion of international travel is not difficult to instil. Robert Walters is a global specialist recruitment firm, established in1985.Thecom- pany has been operating in Ireland for the past 20 years and operates in 31 countries globally. “We are very much spe- cialist recruiters,” said Fee- ney. “We focus on a number of key and core areas. Avia- tionfinanceisoneoftheareas we specialise in, in the Irish market, given the number of lessorsoperatinghereandthe

cialistAndsoacademicqual- ifications and strong grades are preferential in areas of fi- nance, tax, pricing and legal. Withoutadoubt,thisisalways something thathiringorgani- sations lookatwhen they are identifying candidates.” She added, “Opportuni- ties to work from home and flexi-working are becoming increasinglyimportanttoem- ployees. It has become a key part of conversationswehave withbothourclientsandcan- didates. Within the aviation sector,work-from-homeroles andflexibleworkingarrange- mentsaren’tascommonplace. However, over the past six months we have begun to see more firms and lessors

embrace remote access and give their team the opportu- nity to work one or two days fromhome.” Feeneysaidthisisagrowing trend that she expects to see continue on the same trajec- tory. Lessors are increasingly opening up internship pro- grammes to nurture newtal- ent.Manyofthelargeraviation companiesnowhavegraduate programmes. “We are seeing lessors with internship pro- grammes - and this is vital,” she said. “It will have a huge impact on the availability of talent going forward. Tradi- tionally we have found the aviationspaceamoredifficult area to break into. Internship

programmeswill openupthe area for lots more graduates with the right skillset.” Typically, the sector pays stronger basic salaries than other industries in Ireland. “This makes the aviation fi- nanceindustryveryattractive for professionals working in key related areas,” said Fee- ney. “There is a huge appe- tite for these roles, which is also down to the complexity of deals involved in buying, selling and leasing aircraft.” The aviation sector has a globally mobile workforce, more so than any other sec- tor in Ireland, said Feeney. “These include experienced professionalswhohavecome in fromtheUS, theUAE,Asia,

international exposure that a global company likeourshas. We recruit and support com- paniesacrossrisk,finance,le- gal,transactionmanagement, taxandpricingaswellascom- mercial and sales roles.” Robert Walters has exten- sive experience in aircraft finance and leasing talent, sourcing from entry-level roles through to senior man- agement and director level. The future looks bright for the aviation recruitment sector. “We are finding that our candidates are becom- ingmore globallymobile and lookingatrelocatingtoIreland from overseas. This is a trend weseecontinuingthroughout 2020,” Feeney said.

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