FLIGHT DEPT OF THE YEAR
Fleet of GV, G550 and 2 Citation Xs help Deere execs do business around the world
A reconfigured fleet and new hangar contribute to agricultural giant's expanded international mission.
Scheduling and administration
Scheduling and administration team gathers in the atrium for a portrait. (L–R) Mgr Flight Administration Dorette Kerr, Aviation Coordinator Linda Hughes, Senior Schedulers Cindy Raschke and Katherine Carroll, and Contingent Aviation Coordinator Jamie Ristau.
Dorette Kerr is mgr of flight administration, with responsibility for scheduling and administration of the department. She is also responsible for contract flight attendants when the department uses them.
Kerr joined Deere in 1990 in the company's risk management department. When the previous scheduler retired in 1997, Kerr applied for the job and was successful. Soon after beginning her new career, Kerr began attending NBAA schedulers and dispatchers events where she learned how much more she could be doing for the department.
Becoming more involved in international trip planning and working with vendors soon led to an expansion of the scheduler's function at Deere to accommodate new duties as well as a growing department, now called Scheduling and Administration (S&A). Along the way, Kerr took on leadership positions in the NBAA S&D group.
Today she supervises 2 senior schedulers, along with 1 aviation coordinator who handles financials and another who works for the department on contract. Kerr emphasizes the value of regular training. S&A staff members are required to attend either the S&D or administrative professionals conference every 2 years.
Scheduling software training is required every 3 years. In addition, members must complete a minimum of 2 personal/professional development courses each year offered through John Deere Learning, NBAA professional development programs or webinars, the American Management Assn or Fred Pryor seminars.
S&A department duties are written into the flight department's ops manual and IS-BAO standards. The department handles all aspects of trip planning, including passport and visa arrangements. The S&A team also created and maintains the department website.
Providing a work/life balance for her staff is important to Kerr, who was continuously on call before staff were added.
To attract and retain quality employees, her department has incorporated several company-supported flexible work arrangements including flex hours (providing phone/office coverage from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm), telecommuting and after-hours rotation.
The S&A department uses FOS scheduling software. After-hours flight following is done through John Deere Security. When a trip is completed, the department posts flight logs and reconciles invoices.
Measure of value
While the primary focus is on accomplishing the travel mission, the department does pay careful attention to costs.
"With every flight request we show the direct cost and the fully allocated cost of providing transportation," says Field, "so the people authorized to approve the flight can make the cost/benefit considerations. We look at every flight through a financial lens so the approver can see if it makes sense.
"But," he continues, "we also incorporate the intangibles. And at times those intangibles come down to something as basic as 'If you've got to be somewhere, you've got to be somewhere.' There's a lot of value in showing the customer you cared enough to come meet with him. And that's why we depend on business aviation."
Mike Potts is an aviation consultant and freelance writer. He worked in corporate communications for Beech and Raytheon Aircraft between 1979 and 1997.