Welcome to the first of many NHV Employee Spotlight Features, with the goal of shining a spotlight on the pivotal role our employees play at NHV, including; their journeys so far, and how NHV aims to create an innovative, inclusive and dynamic workforce.
Our next feature highlights one of NHV's long standing employees who has had a diverse career history so far at NHV from operations to special projects across Africa and French Guyana to Den Helder Base Manager and now Benoit has recently started in a new role as the Nigeria Base Manager.
Before we start, can you tell us 3 Fun Facts about you:
1. I am crazy about Koi fish, Harley Davidson bikes and rural France.
2. Even though I am getting close to the 50’s, but not planning to slow down yet!
3. My parents thought I should be a cook!
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and who you are?
I studied hotel & restaurant management in Belgium, but soon after graduating, I realised that this was not my future. I then got involved in a large aviation company, European Air Transport (EAT) where I started as a junior and worked my way up in the company by pursuing new studies and courses on General Aviation, A300 and B757 Maintenance perspectives. Eventually, I became a Maintenance Operations Coordinator and around this time, the company moved out to Leipzig in Germany, and I ended up with NHV in Ostend as an Operations coordinator.
As NHV began growing, I shifted my interest and started working as part of the Special Projects team, in which we worked with projects across African and French Guyana. In the Special Projects Team, I had the pleasure to work in projects across: French Guyana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Senegal and Gambia.
I then managed to Den Helder Base for a year until I was reassigned to Nigeria, where I am currently the Base Manager.
What led you to pursue a career in Aviation?
I always had a huge interest in travelling from a very young age, I would travel regularly to Spain during the holidays, on my own with a passport hanging around my neck and assisted by a steward. Maybe not the full reason why I was attracted to Aviation, but this was definitely the initial trigger.
What do you find exciting about the industry and what is something specific about your role at NHV that you love doing?
I see myself as a builder, I arrive to a place, and construct a reliable operation, where it would initially not be possible. The challenge of achieving a satisfying result together with a team of colleagues and friends.
Can you tell us a bit about a favourite project that you’ve worked on here at NHV?
A standout memory was a project that I worked on in Malindi, Kenya.
In 2013 NHV won a short-term contract to support Anadarko with flights out of Malindi and the location was amazing, the set-up was good, as well as the mission took 3 times longer than originally planned which made our set-up very productive and worthwhile!
In 2011 I was sent on a temporary support mission to French Guyana as the Flight Coordinator. When that mission ended, we loaded the 2 AS365’s onto a IL76 cargo aircraft and flew over to Ivory Coast, delivering the first aircrafts to our base in Abidjan and then prepared the set-up of the initial NHV Base in Ivory Coast! This experience helped me to then roll out set-ups and operations as part of the Global Projects team in Kenya, Liberia, Guinee Conakry, twice in Senegal, Gambia and also a second time in French Guyana.
Last year – during the COVID lockdown I was assigned as Base Manager for NHV in Den Helder. And finally, now that COVID allows us better travel options again and since we have 3 x AW139 still in country, my latest assignment is assisting in the development of a Joint Venture/Partnership with 7Star Global Hangars in order to redeploy NHV assets in the region.
How do you define success?
There is 1 simple answer to this: create a revenue with the assets that have been made available.
I have experienced success as creating a great team to work with and seeing the yellow helicopters in the sky!
What are some of the things that you like to do, outside of work?
Outside work I like to stay active, and I mainly work in the garden which is good to stay fit. As well as staying busy with the dogs, as we have 4 dogs at home! I enjoy cleaning up my Koi fishpond which I see as relaxation therapy and driving my motorcycle. I love visiting Normandy and feel very fortunate to have this luscious calming scenery only a few hours away from home.
What are some words of advice you would give to others who are considering pursuing a career in Aviation?
Think twice before you get into aviation, because once you get a taste of it, you can’t live without it!
Thank you Benoit, its been great to hear about your varied experience!