WOI Founder, Sarah Keates, sat down with Alexandria Colindres, the newly appointed CEO of business aviation registry, The Registry of Aruba (TROA). In this candid interview, Alex discusses imposter syndrome, her vision for success, and how aviation can power through its current crisis.
For those unfamiliar with business aviation, please describe TROA in 3 sentences or less.
The Registry of Aruba brings a bespoke experience to aircraft registration. Since our inception over 25 years ago, we have been developing an aircraft registry that fosters a culture of innovation and provides clients with an unparalleled level of service and support.
You have been at TROA for 8 years, what have been the highs and lows?
My high is getting to work with such a diverse group of people every day. Not one day is the same for me, which is important as I do not thrive around a monotonous routine. My boyfriend loves to say that I like to be the calm within the chaos.
To be completely transparent, my low was coming to terms with my role within the family business. It took time for me to believe that I deserved to be in the position that I was in, not because I was my father’s daughter, but because I had worked hard and strived to gain the necessary skills to be able to prove myself to my colleagues and the industry.
How will your leadership style build on the legacy of your father’s approach?
I have always admired my father’s ability to light up any room that he walks into, along with his humility. He is unpretentious and never believes he is the smartest person in the room. His innate understanding of people’s abilities and how to place them together has served as a very valuable skill that has contributed to our success.
I work hard in understanding each one of my team members’ strengths and weaknesses and place them in roles where they will succeed instead of setting them up for failure. It is never about whether someone has the desire to do something, rather, is that task that they have been assigned suited for their skill set.
What is your 5-year vision for the company?
I do not love limiting myself to one vision, as I tend to adapt and focus on things as they come my way. With that said, I would love to see us expanding our reach further in areas such as South America, Asia, and India.
If one thing is certain, my mission is to grow as a company in which everyone always feels included, appreciated, and able to have opportunities to grow. I do not want to be the only member of my team that shines, I want everyone to be successful in their own right. Together as a team, we can accomplish whatever we set our sights on.
What are the company’s values?
- Bespoke customer service
- Operational excellence
- A great team and winning culture
- Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity, and respect
- Delivering our very best in all we do
- Holding ourselves accountable for results
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, there is significant confidence in business aviation among the business community, what are your thoughts on the opportunities that lie ahead?
I truly believe in finding the positive within the negative. While this certainly has been a rough year for everyone, particularly in the aviation industry, there are always opportunities to grow- even under the most adverse conditions. I find ourselves adapting in positive ways that might have felt impossible before the pandemic.
Our office and the DCA of Aruba is working a lot with video teleconferencing communications (VTC) in various aspects. VTC is being used not just for a meeting but also to facilitate the registration of an aircraft or the certification of a new airline.
Some publications have predicted a “roaring 20s” after the restrictions of lockdown, what could this mean for business aviation?
Fortunately, I believe business aviation was one of the lucky industries that did not get affected greatly by the pandemic. Of course, during the early months of the pandemic everything shutdown. Soon after, however, we noticed a surge of new customers wanting to register their private aircraft with us since larger aviation authorities were still shut down and had not adapted as quickly to working remotely.
While it is true that commercial aviation is at an all-time low, from our viewpoint, business aviation seems to be thriving. Many with the financial means to buy an aircraft that previously had not considered doing so, are taking the leap now.
Additionally, we have seen an exponential increase in the demand for cargo operations, due to the dire need of PPE supplies, which I do not see going away once the pandemic is over. I think this is a result of companies like Amazon facilitating the process for consumers to shop online with ground-breaking delivery times.
How has the company culture evolved over the past 8 years?
When I first started working with the registry it seemed like everyone was working around each other independently instead of with each other. Once I was in a position to be able to change that, I implemented weekly catch-up meetings, cross-training within departments, and with our DCA of Aruba counterparts, as well as periodic bonding trips.
I appreciate the value of team-building exercises. Once, we arranged a trip to Key Largo, where we were divided into teams and had to work together to successfully complete scavenger hunts and kayaked in pairs to get to a certain destination. I noticed that moments like these outsides of the realm of the office leave a significant imprint that allows co-workers to bond.
Some of my best memories with co-workers have been made outside the office and they have shaped the way we work together once in the office.
You prefer to avoid gender politics, but how important is gender parity at TROA?
I wouldn’t say I prefer to avoid gender politics, I just hate when it becomes the only talking point. However, the team at our office happens to be primarily women, our VP of Registration is a woman that has been in the industry for over 20 years and our Head of Finance is also a woman.
The team unintentionally ended up this way. What I love about it is not the fact that we have mainly women at the office, but that they are commanding roles rather than subservient roles. Since I started working at the office I always placed importance on teamwork and ensuring that my staff knew that there would always be room to grow within the organization should they wish to, regardless of their age and/or gender.
Where do you hope to travel when things open up?
Anywhere! I mostly miss going to London, I cannot remember the last time I hadn’t travelled at least once a year to London.
Describe your business style in 3 words