Winter 2018

Private Aviation & Premium Travel
The driving force...

As the head of an aviation services company with facilities across the world, one would expect Rob Smith to be hopping from one country to the other every day, and hardly have any time for family or leisure. Let’s find out from Smith himself:

Smith, who earned a degree in Electrical Engineering at Clemson University, and an MBA in Finance from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), has been with General Dynamics for more than 25 years. He has held a number of managerial positions there, last serving as Director of Contracts and Estimating.

Smith is married and has two daughters aged 11 and 12.

What is a work day like for you?

Every day is quite different but where possible I try to have some sort of a routine. Each morning, I dedicate some time to a workout and read through my emails. From there, I may visit one of our facilities, check-in with a project team on how they are tracking, spend time with our customers or work closely with out parent company General Dynamics.

If I am in Basel (Jet Aviation headquarters), I enjoy making it home for dinner with my wife and daughters.

What are your hobbies ?

Time is always a challenge but where possible, I very much like hiking, travelling and spending time with my family. I’m also a big follower of US college football and try to watch some when I can (even though it creates some late nights in Europe!).

Was it hard for you to adjust to doing business in cultures radically different from your own?

Because Jet Aviation is located in all business aviation hubs around the world, we must be sensitive to different cultures. I very much enjoy learning about and experiencing different cultures and always enjoy the opportunity to visit and see it all in person.

How would you describe your leadership philosophy?

Transparency and driving a culture of open dialogue, both within my team and across the organisation, is something I always try to instil. It is key to building trust, accountability and engagement.

I would say delegation is also something I always encourage – both to set colleagues up for growth and success and to ensure different views and opinions are considered. From a customer perspective, I strive to be very responsive and try to set the example for our team.

Are you flying almost all the time or do you get to spend time in the headquarters?

While the nature of our business and customer base makes it necessary for me to travel regularly, I try to balance my time and spend around half of it at our headquarters and my home base in Basel.  The rest is spent at one of our global facilities or attending trade shows, board meetings or General Dynamics-related business.

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