For Sabrina Weber, obtaining the IATA-UNIGE Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) in Aviation Management*, in 2012, was a bridge to advancement.
Responsible for aircraft lease management, transaction management and remarketing, lease and loan restructuring and investor relations. DS Aviation is part of the Dr. Peters Group, one of Germany’s leading providers of real asset investments and asset management solutions for asset categories such as aviation and real estate.
I’ve always been passionate about aviation. When I was still in high school, looking for a summer job, I headed straight for the local airport. During my master’s degree in Economics, I contracted air transportation for my internship, for a tour operator that later became my employer, and I did my thesis on the newly emerging business model of vacation airlines. I’ve always known that, whatever I did in my career, had to be in the field of aviation.
I started out as a supervisor at an airline catering company, then went back to the tour operator, working as an air transport specialist. After a few years, by chance, I saw an advertisement for a further education program specializing in aviation and realized that specialist training could help me advance my career.
I didn’t have a specific career goal in mind; I just wanted to broaden my knowledge and gain further skills so I would be ready when the right opportunity presented itself. I knew my options were limited with my employer, even though they were open to offering me new experiences. I wanted to move up the ladder and gain more senior roles.
This advertisement spurred me to research what else was out there. I found an MBA program and other diplomas from different organizations and universities, all with a focus on aviation, but as part of broader economics, finance and business qualifications. And then I came across the IATA-University of Geneva diploma program*.
I was attracted by the Diploma in Advanced Studies in Aviation Management*, offered jointly by the University of Geneva and IATA because I liked the mix of theory and practice it provided, compared to the other, more academic offerings. I saw that many of the classes were delivered by people who not only work in aviation currently but are prominent figures in the industry, including in key organizations such as ICAO. Also, as I had a master’s degree already, I was able to do only the modules specific to aviation and didn’t have to repeat anything. It was exactly what I needed.
In general, the delivery of the course was very high quality. The instructors for the aviation subjects had a lot of hands-on experience, and for the theoretical classes, we had knowledgeable academics. We could ask questions as we went along, always sure of an answer, and the work we did on our own was often practical, requiring research and application. I also realize now that it was very far-reaching and forward-looking. For example, the environment and sustainability are only now considered relevant in the business world, yet we were talking about it on the course back in 2012!
After I got my diploma, the company I was working for gave me a bonus and I got a new position. I was looking for bigger challenges, though, and I felt more self-confident about getting them with this qualification. Any job in the aviation industry requires a lot of background knowledge, and I felt I had gained an enormous amount. Traveling to Geneva once a month, taking classes with people from all over the world, was a big part of it. I loved learning from other students’ different perspectives, and not just culturally.
Aviation has lots of stakeholders, and studying alongside someone who was responsible for strategic airport development, or works in the safety department of an airline, opens your mind to others’ considerations and concerns. Also, I’ve grown my global network and made new friends all over the world. I even went to a betrothal ceremony in Bangkok!
Fourteen months after completing the diploma, I was hired by my current employer in a completely different role from my previous one. Acquiring, managing and remarketing aircraft assets for a boutique lessor requires working with airlines, which means I need to understand how they think and what their needs and priorities are.
I also need to have a good understanding of international aviation-related law, which is different from our national commercial law. The knowledge and skills I gained with the University of Geneva-IATA qualification, including project management basics and an improved analytical approach, provided a great foundation on which to build, and which supports me in the great variety of tasks I face at work. For example, I set up a reporting tool for a newly-launched institutional investment fund, and I’ve even trained colleagues on the investment side of the business in aviation considerations. I feel like I understand airlines and other stakeholders better, which improves the interaction and enables the delivery of flexible, favorable results and solutions.
When I look forward to the future, I won’t hesitate to take additional courses with IATA – in fact, I already took a certificate in Airline Business Management. I’d like to deepen my knowledge about specific topics, like aircraft insurance, for example, or do an aviation-related leadership program that will open up even more opportunities for me. Maybe one day I’ll even become an instructor myself!
*The UNIGE DAS has been replaced with the IATA-University of St Gallen DAS
Find out how a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Global Air Transport Management can help your career!