A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Putting diversity and inclusion at the forefront of Avolon’s culture

Firm’s head of EMEA wants industry to move toward idea of ‘thought diversity’

Avolon’s head of EMEA Lynn Guiney: “At the moment in Avolon we have 50-50 in terms of gender balance.”

Avolon’s head of EMEA Lynn Guiney: “At the moment in Avolon we have 50-50 in terms of gender balance.”

 

Lynn Guiney joined Avolon in July 2016 and is responsible for origination in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. With more than 170 aircraft currently on lease to 60 airlines in the region, Guiney and her team are responsible for managing airline relationships across the region’s three continents, with the principle objective of further expanding the firm’s market presence via new aircraft placements, used aircraft transitions, and sales and leasebacks.

After studying psychology and then completing post-graduate studies in business studies in UCD, Guiney had no idea that her career would take her into aviation.

“I had an unusual route into aviation,” she says. “After studying I went off to Italy for six years where I worked in commercial real estate in Milan, so lots of offices and fashion showhouses and shops. It was dealing with people from Donna Karan to Dolce & Gabbana. I loved all of that, the wheeling and dealing nature of it”.

“My start in aviation was through an ad in The Irish Times. It was for an area manager for Shannon Aerospace which is now Lufthansa Technik Shannon. I put in my CV on the basis that I had negotiation experience and I could speak languages. I hadn’t thought about aviation as a sector but I remember when that ad came up it instantly appealed because I could see the potential for combining international negotiation, culture, and travel.”

Aviation maintenance

After working in aviation maintenance for several years, Guiney made a move to aircraft leasing, working alongside former GPA executive Dómhnal Slattery in 2001 as part of RBS Aviation Capital (now SMBC Aviation Capital). “He gave me a job in marketing, but we were quite a small company and I did a bit of everything there. It’s where I learned so much.”

Joining Avolon in 2016 gave Guiney a chance to work with Slattery again, and her role as head of EMEA is one that keeps her on the move. “One of the great things about the job is that every week is different. I certainly travel a lot, but I control my own travel. I could be travelling over 100 nights a year, it sounds a lot when I say it like that, but it’s never a problem for me as I love it.”

Part of Guiney’s work in Avolon involves heading up the company’s diversity & inclusion committee. “This is an area I feel really passionate about,” says Guiney. “Across the world you see a lot more men in the aviation industry than you do women. But has it made a difference to me? Frankly speaking, I don’t think it has put me personally at an advantage or disadvantage but I recognise that the greater amount of diversity and inclusivity there is, the better for the people and the better for the business.

“At the moment in Avolon we have 50-50 in terms of gender balance. What we feel we need is to get away from categories and move toward the idea of thought diversity – to do that you need to have gender diversity, ethnic diversity, diversity among personality types and across socioeconomic bands. For the future, I want the whole aviation industry to embrace that idea.”