Passion, energy and determination

Published: 08 May 2018

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Johanne Gallant is bringing a fresh approach to Canada’s Fredericton International airport, in Lincoln, New Brunswick, where her role as chief executive embraces planning, safety and opening new markets

How did you get into the aviation industry?

I began my career in tourism, where I discovered a passion for growing international markets and developing air service. That led to a full-time career in air service development, and from there to my current role as chief executive of Fredericton International airport, in Lincoln, New Brunswick, Canada. I consider myself lucky to have had great mentors along my journey who invested time and energy in helping me to develop my business and interpersonal skills. This encouraged me to make the change into the airport world, and to take on leadership positions. I try to do the same, and act as a mentor for others who are developing their careers. The aviation world is an exciting one, and it is wonderful to see the next generation bringing fresh energy to the sector.

How has your career progressed?

I have been blessed with an interesting career – I have had the opportunity to work in sales and business development in both tourism and aviation and from there to take on the chief executive role. The airport world is fascinating and ever changing, which presents constant opportunities to learn while developing partnerships, opening new markets, and increasing sales and revenues. This career has been rewarding on so many levels: working with intelligent and dynamic people, learning the airport and airline business, and leading a successful airport. I personally think this is only the beginning of a great career – and no matter what we do or take on, is it important to do it with passion, energy and determination

What have been the highlights?

Opening new markets for a region and seeing the direct economic impact is incredibly rewarding. Also, the first landing of a new service is always a high point for me. I still remember vividly that first Corsair Boeing 747 landing in New Brunswick. It was an overwhelming feeling of achievement to bring a new airline to our province, and to open a new connection for business and tourism between New Brunswick and France. I had the same feeling with Continental when it started its first service to New Brunswick. Bringing that service to our province was a team effort with the business community and the tourism department. It took tremendous effort to convince this airline to open a new market – but it was well worth it.

What does your job entail?

As chief executive, my role includes strategic planning, budget and board management, business development, stakeholder relations, lobbying, human resources, ensuring the safety of our travellers and employees, and environmental stewardship. In the airport world no two days are ever the same, especially if you live in a country with harsh winters. I have a tremendous team at Fredericton, and their expertise, planning, and work ethic help keep us as prepared as possible for any unexpected events.

What challenges do you face?

Managing growth is our biggest challenge right now – it is a great challenge to have. But during exponential growth, maintaining and increasing customer service is just as important – and challenging – as leading your employees through the changes that growth inevitably brings. As a leader, my personal challenge is to continue to improve, grow, and give back to others, by helping and coaching young potential leaders.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The diversity of the business. Whether it is leadership, safety, airline negotiations, business development, human resources, or wildlife control – as a president and chief executive, every day is an adventure

What are the plans for the airport?

Continued airline and passenger growth, completion of a terminal expansion project and ongoing improvement of services. We should start construction of the terminal expansion this summer and it is expected to take about three years to complete. It is an exciting time.

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