For Manuel Ajamil Andrés, the self-study IATA Diploma in Leadership and Management, with specialization in Airline Customer Service, was a first step in demonstrating his commitment to the industry
Supervised the Emirates Experience section of the airline’s website and all related brand-engagement digital products. Former Emirates cabin crew. Emirates connects the world to, and through, their global hub in Dubai. They operate modern and efficient aircraft, and their culturally diverse workforce delivers award-winning services to their customers across six continents every day.
With a bachelor’s in Tourism and a master’s in Hotel Management, I’ve always been passionate about the service travelers receive. The customer’s journey starts long before they go to the airport to start their trip, and I’ve been lucky enough to put my passion into practice to ensure a great experience at a number of stages of that journey. I’ve helped them choose where to stay and who to fly with as a digital marketing and content strategist. I’ve helped them have a stress-free flight as cabin crew with Emirates. I’ve helped them have a satisfying stay as a member of hotel management staff. And I’ve always believed in investing in improving my understanding and performance through specialized training.
I switched from hotels to aviation so I could be part of the award-winning company that Emirates is. Customer service is really at the heart of any airline; everything we do is about the customer: how we take care of them, how we resolve the situations that arise. And Emirates really takes this seriously. I spent two years as cabin crew, and then took an opportunity within this world-class company to join the Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand department, working on the digital experience from booking to destination. In the last five years, I’ve been part of different teams in the Digital Experience Unit, and I see my future with the airline, which is why I wanted to do an airline-specific course. But it also had to fit my budget.
IATA is, of course, a reference for aviation training. The self-study course in Airline Customer Service, that is part of the IATA Leadership and Management Training Program, was a good opportunity for learning specifically related to airlines, as well as being budget-friendly. I was particularly interested in learning more about management and business development, and I was also really pleased when I saw it offered Harvard Manage Mentor® (HMM) modules.
The course was quite intense, as there was lots of content; not just customer service but also operations. I actually wasn’t expecting to find so much in it ! As former cabin crew, I knew a lot about operations already, but I also expanded my knowledge in many ways. For example, how to deal with difficult situations with customers on the ground, and the importance of having an employee-first culture, to achieve the highest levels of customer experience. There are eight modules from IATA, and you also have to complete 10 modules from the 25 available on the HMM platform. However, with this Diploma you have access to HMM for six months, so you can do the other modules too. I chose modules that I felt would be more useful to me as my career progresses, and some of those were also very intense. But I loved that there were so many real-life examples and video case studies that make them so practical. I studied on the metro while I was commuting to work, and I also worked on weekend mornings to complete the course. It took me two months of intensive studying. Everything is really well written and structured. There’s a summary of the key learning points for each module, and the module test verifies these. That makes it super easy for students to get ready for the final review. This is an online exam with remote supervision. It was the first time I’d had a proctored exam of this kind, and it was interesting to see how they verify your surroundings to ensure the integrity of the qualification. I have to admit that the exam wasn’t as easy as I was expecting. There were 100 questions, which is a lot, and some of them really made me think. However, it made me proud of my achievement when I got the result, and I was even prouder when I received my actual diploma in just a few days!
When you work in digital, you create products and experiences for customers, but you’re not interacting with them directly. Most of my colleagues don’t have the same customer-facing background as I do, and I had really found my previous experience allowed me to bring new points of view to the table. Different perspectives and experiences make a team stronger, and in my multinational team it’s extremely valuable. With everything I’ve learned in the Diploma course, I feel I’m able to contribute to my team even better, applying all the knowledge.
I’ve gained greater understanding, both from the IATA modules and the Harvard ones, of how to communicate, how to delegate, how to treat team members, how to deal with difficult situations and manage crises. And I’m also able to use what I’ve learned with other stakeholders within the company. It’s all very useful.
As for my career, I was delighted to discover that the Leadership and Management Diploma also gives you access to the Aviation Management Professional (AvMP) certification, which isn’t easy to get. I’m now a designated IATA AvMP, which represents the next step in pursuing my career goals in aviation.
Download the outline to explore the diploma, its objectives and key topics.