This story is from the May 2019 edition of Australian Aviation, where we sat down with Jodie Bevan – Regional Sales Director, Turboprops, Asia Pacific Textron Aviation.
A career in aviation had long appealed to Jodie Bevan. From humble beginnings as a young aviator working multiple jobs to pay for flight school; today Bevan heads up Textron Aviation’s Turboprops sales for the India Pacific and Asia Pacific regions.
In this role, Bevan represents some of the most produced and best-loved aircraft in the world. Models in Bevan’s portfolio include the iconic Cessna Skyhawk 172, Beechcraft Baron and Beechcraft Bonanza.
With a role that oversees more than four-dozen countries, Bevan supports Textron Aviation’s growth in these regions. Her success is in part thanks to a sound understanding of the needs of her customers, stemming from her own experience as a pilot and business owner.
Bevan spoke with Chris Frame in April 2019, about how a career in the aviation sector has helped shape her life.
How did your early career start and what drew you to the aviation industry?
I completed a degree in IT Systems and Technology at Monash University in Victoria, focusing on business and marketing. After graduating, I moved to Adelaide to work with Internode. There I worked my way up through government and corporate sales. While at Internode I completed a Certificate IV in training and assessment and became a sales team trainer.
It was while I was in South Australia that I began my flight training with Adelaide Biplanes in Aldinga. Here I took my first aerobatics lesson in a Super Decathlon! From there I moved to Perth, where I completed work for my private pilot licence and worked with the Red Bull Air Race in 2009.
At the age of 22, I started a flight training school with a business partner. After two years in Perth, we moved the flight school to Melbourne. Business at the flight school grew, and we progressed from leasing the training aircraft to owning several aircraft.
During this time, I continued to pursue aerobatic flying, competing in six competitions around Australia each year.
Eventually, I sold my shares in the flying school and began consulting to help build other businesses in the aviation industry, while later taking on a position with Matt Hall Racing, the Australian Red Bull Air Race pilot in New South Wales.
What are some of the barriers or difficulties that you have had to overcome in your early aviation career?
I was 21 years old and living interstate from my family when I began learning to fly. Like many young aviators, I took on multiple jobs to gather enough money to complete my flight training, while keeping a roof over my head.
At one time I was holding down four jobs, as what started as a flight lesson every four to six weeks, soon became a regular weekend occurrence for me.
When it came to the challenges of starting a flight training business, the barriers were once again financial. Fortunately, this time I had the support of some incredible financial investors who each offered us a loan. They believed in the success of the business plan and I am very happy to say that each one was repaid in full before the term of the loan was due to be completed.
What drew you to Textron Aviation?
In 2016, I made a career move with the goal of expanding my aviation experiences into the international market. To achieve this goal, I applied for a role with Textron Aviation, home of the Cessna and Beechcraft brands, in the USA.
After applying for this role, I participated in a series of phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, and online tests. I was successful in these, which led to the offer of a position with Textron Aviation as Director of Turboprop Sales for India Pacific and Asia Pacific.
In this role, my experiences around Australia as a pilot, owner of a flight school as well as being an aircraft owner and operator, all enabled me to engage in meaningful discussions with flight training academies, business owners, CFOs, flight instructors, and aircraft owners or operators.
I get a lot of personal satisfaction at Textron Aviation, which allows me to connect aviation businesses to one another and support the industry’s growth.
What does your role at Textron Aviation involve?
In my role, my tasks vary from day to day. There are 53 countries within the region that I oversee. In some of these countries, I work closely with teams of Textron Aviation’s local authorised sales representatives and Authorised Service Facilities to support clients’ technical and financial enquires.
In other countries, I am the direct link to the factory. I enjoy supporting aircraft owners with personalised operating cost analysis, discussing operating specifications and performance features.
I work with fleet operators to maximise their efficiency, engage with various aviation regulators and industry professionals, as well as support the export for new aircraft from the USA, and finally, importing aircraft into our region.
What is the forecast for the Asia Pacific region and how do you support this?
The aviation industry is currently in a rapid growth phase for Asia Pacific and Australia, with a rising need for pilots, aircraft engineers, and other industry professionals.
This growth presents opportunities for international partnerships and other various business opportunities. As a result, I have been supporting many flight training organisations and airlines for the acquisition and the growth of their Cessna and Beechcraft training fleets.
What are some of the benefits of working with Textron Aviation’s portfolio of well-known brands?
I specialise in the current Textron Aviation piston aircraft product line: the Cessna Skyhawk 172S; the Cessna Skylane 182T; the Cessna Turbo Stationair HD T206HD; the Beechcraft Bonanza G36; and the Beechcraft Baron G58.
I was drawn towards working with the industry leader in aircraft manufacturing because they hold many historic accolades.
For example, the Cessna Skyhawk 172 is the world’s most-produced aircraft, with more than 45,000 deliveries. It remains the most popular flight-training platform globally.
This aircraft is approved for spin training in the utility category. It is robust in the circuit pattern, simple to repair, cost-efficient, and holds the highest resale value for its category at approximately 77% of its value after 10 years.
Another great aircraft is the Beechcraft Bonanza, which holds the record for longest continuous production of a civilian aircraft. It celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017. Additionally, the Beechcraft Baron 58 model celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year.
These aircraft are well designed and assembled and quite predictable in flight, and they continue to be upgraded and equipped with the latest technology in Garmin avionics and other redundancies.
What are some of your career highlights, working within the aviation sector? How have these experiences impacted your life?
I have experienced amazing career highlights with Textron Aviation. I have had the privilege of working with teams, both within Textron Aviation as well as with our clients, to exceed our collective expectations and find unique solutions.
I’ve had the opportunity to support a diverse client base in their aircraft acquisitions. This includes working with many leading flight-training organisations, which I enjoy, given my business background.
All these career highlights impact my life and my family. Aviation is very much a part of our lives and led me to meet my husband, which positively changed both our lives. We frequently travel, fly and meet up with other aviators in all corners of the world to share flying and travel experiences.
Our daughter will certainly become an international citizen as a result of our love of aviation, and we hope that she will experience many countries, cultures and languages during her upbringing.
What is the best pathway to a career in aviation?
The aviation industry is a very welcoming industry. It offers opportunities for people from diverse career backgrounds. Regardless of the career path you’ve taken, there’s likely an opportunity to follow that career within aviation.
Aviation is so diverse, that it really doesn’t matter what subjects you study at school or university, or whether you’ve started off as a student pilot, or have skills in maintenance, finance, legal, marketing… you name it… there are pathways to aviation for anyone who sets their mind to it.
Working in the aviation industry makes the world feel smaller and more accessible. You are instantly connected with a network of individuals in every country. This opens you up to any cultural and language experiences and broadens your horizons. It is a very rewarding industry to be a part of.
And finally, do you have a favourite aircraft?
I have many favourite aircraft! They range from basic models with a simple cockpit to others with highly advanced flight characteristics.
I have to say that my eyes always wander to an aircraft with a tailwheel and I really appreciate a machine with aerobatic capabilities, be it a modern design or an antique.