The View from Here

The Culture Question

Airline Pilot Training in Virginia

I’m generally a guy who likes to be in the background most of the time. For example, I really don’t like getting my picture taken. And while I want to bring attention to the great work we do at Paragon Flight Training, I’m not always keen on being the spokesperson. There is an exception though.

I love it when people ask me why we have such a great culture at Paragon Flight Training. As a man of few words, I can simply respond, “Be a good human.”

How easy is that principle for establishing a positive corporate culture? Well, maybe it’s not always easy to be a good human but it’s so much easier than not being one! The nature of our business is that, while we have a core group of employees handling day to day and big picture activities, our flight instructors come to us for approximately a year to gain their certification and hours while teaching our students how to fly. That means approximately 80% of our staff leave us each year. (I liken it to college football players – they are here preparing for the big leagues.)

When you have such (positive) turnover, you have to “hire the person and train the pilot”. It takes a significant time commitment on our part to do that, and I spend up to eight hours during the onboarding process with every individual we hire, regardless of their role, discussing customer service and our mission and values. You can’t manage people through policies; you manage people by being honest, empathetic and genuine – and by holding people accountable. When you hire the right people, a culture with high expectations is a draw that pays dividends all around with happy staff, happy customers and the feeling that you work for the best flight training company in the industry.

Without sharing the entire list (although you’ll see them prominently displayed if you visit our facility), here are a few excerpts from our mission, values and guiding principles:

  • We will be obsessively focused on providing an exceptional customer experience within every aspect of the company, our products and our services.
  • We will always act with the highest level of integrity and honestly…
  • We ensure safety is of the upmost importance in everything we do.
  • We align our values before interests.
  • We’re welcoming and kind.

In writing this, I feel like I’ve put everyone on notice to call us out if you think we’re not being good humans. That’s okay, though, it will just make us work that much harder to maintain the positive energy that propels us forward – and keeps us putting our customers interests ahead of our own.

‘The View from Here’ is an occasional blog series written by Chris Schoensee, President of Paragon Flight Training.