Leadership changes are under way at NBAA, as two long-time senior staffers leave the organization.
Senior vice president of operations Bob Blouin resigned as of August 31 and senior vice president of government and public affairs Pete West will depart on November 1.
As of the middle of last month, Blouin was enjoying some time off and looking for a new position; he will probably remain in the aviation industry. “I don’t have anything lined up,” he told AIN. “I am talking to a couple of people but nothing has come to the surface.”
Blouin, who submitted his first resignation in March and rescinded it a short time later, insisted this resignation had nothing to do with Ed Bolen taking over as president and CEO of NBAA, although it is believed he had applied for the top post. “I would really like to run my own show,” he said.
Blouin observed that Bolen is putting together “a great team,” and he said the addition of Steve Brown as head of operations for NBAA will give the association “a whole new perspective and a whole new focus.”
After seven years on the job, he said, deciding to quit NBAA the first time was not easy. And coming back made him realize that there may be other opportunities available. “Bottom line, what I really feel would serve the community best and me best is that the message gets out that I outgrew the job,” he said. “In a nice way, NBAA afforded me an opportunity to grow.”
According to Blouin, NBAA gave him more international experience, with EBACE, LABACE and the preparations for the first ABACE. “I didn’t do any of that by myself,” he conceded. “Jack [Olcott] was tremendously instrumental, and Kathleen [Bob’s wife] was on the convention side. You just don’t get these things done by yourself.”
During Blouin’s seven-year tenure, NBAA created a safety committee and strengthened the flight attendants committee. It also began the professional development program and the certified aviation manager program. “I didn’t do that by myself,” said Blouin. “Jack supported that…and the board said ‘full speed ahead.’” Blouin said he was particularly proud that the operations service group, which answers the phones and the mail, and the NBAA GA Desk at the FAA’s ATC command center were both created on his watch.
West said he is leaving because both he and Ed Bolen bring the same strengths to the organization. He has been NBAA’s chief lobbyist for 17 years, and Bolen, who served as a lobbyist for GAMA, said he expects to be a highly visible presence on Capitol Hill. As a result, “I am yielding the floor to my distinguished colleague from Kansas,” said West, invoking the terminology members of Congress use during debates.
West said that as a Washington-based, aviation trade association, NBAA’s primary mission is to monitor and affect the legislative and political process as it relates to the interest of the member companies and the broader business aviation community.
“I have been fortunate to be the principal face for NBAA and the business community on Capitol Hill, for the policy officials at the White House and the various administrative agencies within the administration, and at the state and local level,” said West. “It’s been a great 17 years. I feel I’ve been able to help NBAA achieve a lot.”
With Bolen taking over the top spot at NBAA, the organization would have, in effect, two people doing essentially the same job, according to West.
“So Ed has been a dear friend and he’s also been a peer,” said West, who acknowledged that he was a candidate for NBAA’s top job during the first search for a new president last year.
After the flap during the short tenure of Shelley Longmuir as NBAA president, West said it was in that “challenging environment that I started considering more seriously how I might apply myself elsewhere.”
He said that when the association announced it had selected Bolen as president and CEO, “My first reaction was that it was absolutely the smartest decision they could make.” However, despite the prospect of he and Bolen being a powerful team,on further reflection, West came to recognize that Bolen “was clearly going to be a president who needed to be, and appropriately so, the face of NBAA and business aviation in [the political] arena.”
West then decided “it was important to yield the floor of that arena entirely to Ed so that he could have the proper attention as the representative for NBAA.”